The next stable update of the Linux kernel will bring advances in file system event monitoring and the Xtensa architecture as well as the ability to load another kernel from the currently executing Linux kernel.
While the 2.6.13 release candidates are being tested, the final stable version is expected to be released in the next few weeks, kernel developers said. With it will come significant changes, including inotify, a file system event-monitoring mechanism designed to replace dnotify, the de facto file-monitoring mechanism supported in older Linux kernels.
The inotify tool is a fine-grained, asynchronous mechanism suited to a variety of file-monitoring needs, including security and performance.
Also included will be the Xtensa architecture, which is a configurable, extensible and synthesizable processor core and the first microprocessor architecture designed specifically to address embedded SOC (System-on-Chip) applications. The new kernel will also add kexec, a set of system calls that lets users load another kernel from the currently executing kernel, and kdump, a kexec-based crash-dumping mechanism for Linux, said Greg Kroah-Hartman, a Linux kernel developer at Novell Inc., in Portland, Ore.
The devfs (device file system) will be disabled in the new release, which also contains the Complete Fair Queuing disk I/O scheduler, designed to maintain a minimal worst-case latency on all I/O reads and writes, developers said.
Coming in future kernel releases are Xen virtualization technology; FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace), which makes it possible to implement a fully functional file system in userspace; the Reiser 4 network-based file system; and Version 2 of the Oracle Cluster File System, which will be the first clustering component added to the public kernel.
Some enterprise Linux customers, such as John Engates, chief technology officer for Rackspace Ltd., a managed-hosting provider in San Antonio, say they believe Linux vendors now are able to incorporate new features and functionality into their distributions more incrementally than they could previously.
However, there is still a lot more work to be done, especially around 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 the different manufacturers have to be open-sourced and moved into the upstream tree to make this fully robust," Frye said, adding that the community is working on this and is making progress, "but we need to get them into the process rather than standing alone."
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.
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