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Linux Weather Forecast

This page is an attempt to track ongoing developments in the Linux development community that have a good chance of appearing in a mainline kernel and/or major distributions sometime in the near future. Your "chief meteorologist" is Jonathan Corbet, Executive Editor at LWN.net. If you have suggestions on improving the forecast (and particularly if you have a project or patchset that you think should be tracked), please add your comments to the Discussion page. There's a blog that reports on the main changes to the forecast. You can view it directly or use a feed reader to subscribe to the blog feed. You can also subscribe directly to the changes feed for this page to see feed all forecast edits.

Forecast Summaries

Current conditions:  the 2.6.31 kernel was released on September 9.  The 2.6.31 development cycle, lasting exactly three months,  saw the addition of almost 11,000 individual changes from over 1100 developers representing almost 200 different companies.  2.6.31 has  408,000 more lines of code than 2.6.30.

Some of the more interesting changes in 2.6.31 include:

  • Performance counter support for the x86 and PowerPC architectures.¬† Performance counters have long been an out-of-tree feature; 2.6.31 will finally make this important hardware capability available in the mainline kernel.
  • Support for char devices in user space.¬† The immediate application of this feature may be to provide support for the legacy Open Sound System driver architecture.
  • fsnotify, a new infrastructure for handling notification of filesystem events.¬† In 2.6.31, fsnotify will provide a unified implementation underlying the inotify and dnotify APIs.¬† In the future, it is intended to support the addition of an API¬†so support malware scanning applications under Linux.
  • New support for ATI¬†Radeon graphics chipsets, using kernel mode setting and the (also merged)¬†TTM¬†memory manager.¬† These components should bring much better support for Radeon hardware, but this code remains a work in progress for 2.6.31.
  • Storage topology support, which will help Linux provide high-performance support for future storage devices, has been merged.

See this article for more information on where code for the 2.6.31 development cycle came from.

Near-term forecast:  the 2.6.32 kernel should be released sometime in late November or (more likely) early December.  The merge window for this cycle was closed with the release of 2.6.32-rc1 on September 27.  Some features which will appear in 2.6.32 include:

  • devtmpfs - an automatic device filesystem designed to improve boot times and reliability.¬† This addition is controversial, so there is a small possibility that it could be reverted.
  • Quite a few scheduler changes aimed at improving performance and interactivity.
  • A¬†new power management core, which will eventually support finer-grained runtime power management (and more efficient power use) on a wide range of systems.
  • The HWPOISON¬†subsystem, which makes use of hardware support to add fault tolerance in the face of memory errors.
  • Intel graphics chipsets can now perform framebuffer compression.¬† If the contents of the frame buffer compress well, compression can significantly reduce the amount of memory scanning required to keep the display current.¬† That, in turn, can lead to up to 0.5W¬†of saved power.
  • Support for a number of new diagnostic tools, including timechart and scheduler latency tracing.
  • The kernel shared memory (KSM)¬†subsystem; KSM¬†scans memory for pages with identical content. Duplicate pages are replaced with copy-on-write links, resulting in significant reductions in memory use.

The current development release, as of this writing, is 2.6.32-rc6, released on November 3 (note that, as the result of a silly mistake, the 2.6.32-rc2 release never happened).  2.6.32 is now in the stabilization phase.

The forecast has been divided into a number of specific subject areas.

  • Core Kernel Developments: schedulers, real-time support, event management, and memory management.
  • Virtualization and containers: Xen, KVM, control groups, etc.
  • Filesystems: ext4, btrfs, and other ways of storing data.
  • Security: technologies and enhancements for keeping Linux systems secure.
  • Networking: Network channels and other technologies for connecting systems together.
  • Hardware Support: Topics of interest in hardware support.
  • Miscellaneous: Topics which do not fit under any other heading.
  • User Space: user-space code which forms an important part of the low-level platform.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Updated November 11, 2009

 

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