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Virtualization: Article

Linux Kernel Released

Linux Kernel Released

The 2.6 production version of the new state-of-the-art Linux kernel was released Thursday in time to turn it into a stocking stuffer -coal in the case of Microsoft. The source code is on the Web at and at

The milestone is a big deal for Linux; it's been almost three years since the 2.4 kernel went into production and the new kernel is expected to push the OS deeper into mainstream computing and on to more desktops.

The father of Linux, Linus Torvalds, said, "With the new kernel, I think we're getting closer to Linux for everyone."

Computer Associates' Linux guru Sam Greenblatt, one of the Greek chorus to sing 2.6's praises, talked about it "fostering the growth of horizontal scaling and in the acceptance of the Java desktop on Linux. Also the User Mode Linux brings Linux closer to virtualization than ever before."

Be that as it may, it'll be a long time before 2.6 actually goes commercial. Although Red Hat's enterprise code already includes a few 2.6 facilities like threading, the company doesn't intend to make 2.6 the basis of its systems before 2005 after trying it out this spring in Fedora, the mission-uncritical replacement for Red Hat retail code. SUSE, forever playing Avis to Red Hat's Hertz, is aiming to commercialize 2.6 at the enterprise level this summer.

Recently, large ISVs were still complaining about the solidity of 2.6 although the widgetry is supposed to be the most stable initial Linux production kernel ever.

The new kernel is supposed to bring significant performance and reliability improvements to Linux such as scaling to upwards of 64-CPU systems, faster threading, added memory support, enhanced disk drive performance and storage access, broader embedded chip support and gussied-up desktop capabilities for plug-and-play, studio-quality sound, USB and firewire.

Andrew Morton, whose work is sponsored by the Open Software Development Lab (OSDL), which has tested the kernel, will be responsible for maintaining the thing.

In a birth announcement, so to speak, to the Linux mailing list, Torvalds said, "It's not the totally empty patch I was hoping for, but judging by the bugs I worked on personally, things are looking very good." In Torvalds' opinion the bugs that are still there are obscure, hard to find, and configuration-specific.

Development and testing of the 2.7 kernel, the post-2.6 operating system, is officially supposed to start early in 2004. Presumably 2.7 will work on the tradeoffs Linux had to make in going from 2.4 to 2.6. The 2.4 kernel, for instance, was supposed to be able to handle 32 gigs of memory. The limit with 2.6, which is also a tad slower than 2.4, is only 24GB.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at) or paperboy(at), and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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