Incorporating the Kernel

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-08-26 Print this article Print

Earlier this month at LinuxWorld in San Francisco, Red Hat announced that it was including the GFS in Fedora Core 4. The GFS is a scalable, 64-bit cluster file system for Linux. It can support up to 256 x86, AMD64/EM64T or Itanium nodes. Red Hat bought the GFS as part of its acquisition of Sistina Systems in 2003. After the acquisition, Red Hat worked to make the proprietary GFS available under the GPL. "GFS is highly valuable technology that now has the opportunity to improve even more rapidly in the open-source community," said Paul Cormier, Red Hats executive vice president of engineering.
Some large enterprise Linux customers like John Engates, chief technology officer for Rackspace Ltd., a managed-hosting provider in San Antonio, say they believe the Linux vendors now are able to incorporate these new features and functionality into their distributions more incrementally than was previously the case.
Click here to read more about how work on the Linux kernel is picking up speed. But there is still a lot more work to be done, especially in regards to mapping more of the pieces into the development process, said Dan Frye, vice president of IBMs Linux Technology Center in Beaverton, Ore. "All the device drivers from all the different manufacturers have to be open-sourced and moved into the upstream tree to make this fully robust and rock solid," Frye said, adding that the community is working on this and is making progress, "but we need to get [the manufacturers] into the process, rather than standing alone." While the 2.6 kernel provides all the basics, there is still work to do, as the kernel is not good enough for every workload, Frye said. "We need better large page support for application binaries, and better scalability through the IPV. You know, its tweaking, its thousands of patches that are small stuff," he said. Frye said there was a huge amount of work going on, some of it very difficult, such as "memory add/delete … [and] specific types of large page support for certain types of workloads. There is also a lot of work still to be done on system throughput for the hardest workloads: large SMP [symmetric multiprocessing] running transaction processing-type things. Theres also lots of work to be done there, as you have to get fine-grained scalability in every subsystem." "There is also still a lot of work to do around serviceability to get first-failure data capture in a reliable way throughout the system. This is increasingly driven less by technology than it is by customer workloads," he added. Frye said the Linux kernel development team at the technology center was also working on core security, functionality and a higher level of certification, as well as on Samba, networking, protocols, performance analysis, and finding hot spots and serviceability. It is also working on enabling its hardware, and is spending an increasing amount of time on storage, he said. The team is also spending much more time working on GCC, as the rest of the tool chain is in good shape, Frye said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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