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Torvalds: Last call for input on Linux kernel 2.6

Oct 27, 2003 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Yesterday's release of Linux kernel 2.6.0-test9 offers the “last big chance” for input on the next stable Linux kernel, according to Linux originator Linus Torvalds as quoted in a press release from the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL). This suggests that Torvalds will produce just one more test release — 2.6.0-test10 — which, if no show-stoppers emerge, he will likely rename as 2.6.0 and turn over to… stable kernel maintainer Andrew Morton.

“Now is when we want big companies and software vendors to step in and hammer on the kernel so we can get their ideas into the final production release of 2.6 Linux,” said OSDL Fellow Linus Torvalds. “This is their last big chance.”

Testing, testing, . . .

The OSDL press release calls upon major Linux customers, independent software vendors, and leading systems providers to test the new release. The Lab encourages testers to take advantage of OSDL test workloads, available online at OSDL or on Sourceforge, and to report back on their experiences and results.

According to the OSDL, Torvalds and Morton established stable APIs, including Posix and thread interfaces, when they released the first 2.6 kernel test version in July. Since then, the OSDL has performed a non-stop series of performance and regression tests on the kernel at OSDL facilities in Portland, Oregon and Yokohama, Japan. OSDL publishes its tests results online.

The OSDL testing infrastructure automatically tracks the progress of kernel development, checking new patches when they are released. The Lab's Linux test infrastructure consists of OSDL's Scalable Test Platform (STP) and Patch Lifecycle Manager (PLM) systems, plus a compile regression test platform. The Lab publishes these testing results here

OSDL has created a set of database workload tests based on a Fair Use implementation of key Transaction Processing Council (TPC) tests, and provides source code for other test suites, including an updated version of the AIM7 and AIM9 tests. All OSDL test code is freely available under an open source license.

New features

“The new 2.6 Linux kernel really broadens the markets where Linux can replace legacy platforms,” said Timothy Witham, OSDL Lab director. “It has key new features that allow Linux to scale dramatically up to support 32 or more processors and down to run in a wide variety of consumer and industrial devices, including hundreds of new low-cost embedded processors.”

The OSDL lists the major improvements in the new 2.6 kernel compared to the current production 2.4 Linux kernel released in January 2001 as:

  • Improved scalability. It has been tested on up to 64-way systems. It is ready for production use on 32-way machines.
  • Added new CPU scheduler, memory management and file system code. Supports up to 8Gb of memory on IA-32 systems.
  • Faster threading. New Native Posix Thread Library for Linux (NPTL) results in test times on 100,000 threads reduced from 15 minutes to 2 seconds for significantly faster system performance under heavy loads.
  • Enhanced driver layer. I/O devices such as disks perform better and are easier to manage. New features include: Logical Volume Management (LVM), sysfs, device mapper, reduced lock contention.
  • Support for many more embedded device applications. uClinux integration brings new support for low-cost, low-power CPUs without memory management units which are commonly used in embedded devices.
  • Improved desktop features. Hot plug devices, including firewire and USB, are dramatically improved. Mouse, video, and sound are smoother and perform better. New Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) brings professional music-studio quality audio.

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