New Linux Boosts Monitoring

Also in Kernel 2.6.13: Xtensa architecture.

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."