Linux 3.10 Kernel Receives Two Updates in One Day

There were two updates for a stable Linux kernel yesterday. Is the process too fast? Linux Kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman has a plan to slow it down.


The stable Linux 3.10 kernel received not one, but two updates in the span of less than seven hours on Aug. 20, after a small development mishap. The new updates provide additional driver and stability support for Linux 3.10, which was recently designated as a long-term supported kernel, which will be maintained for at least the next two years for use by enterprise Linux and consumer electronics organizations.

The kernel is the heart of an open-source Linux operating system, providing system architecture, file-system, networking and driver support.

At 9 a.m. PT on Aug. 20, Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman announced the 3.10.8 kernel update. At 3:44 p.m. PT, Kroah-Hartman announced the Linux 3.10.9 kernel.

"What happened was that a patch that was reported to be broken during the RC [release candidate] review process, went into the release, because I mistakenly didn't pull it out in time," Kroah-Hartman told eWEEK. "So, I just did a new release with that patch removed."

"Not a big deal, mistakes happen at times," Kroah-Hartman said. "This one was mine, the patch was correctly reported as something that shouldn't have been applied, but I missed it until after it was too late."

A similar quick update was also made to the Linux 3.0.93 kernel, a few short hours after the 3.0.92 kernel was released. As is the case with the Linux 3.10 kernel branch, the Linux 3.0 kernel is also a long-term kernel release.

In terms of the actual updates that landed in the 3.10.9 kernel release, there are stability updates for various USB drivers as well as for the ARM processor architecture.

"It looks like the normal set of stable kernel patch updates to me," Kroah-Hartman said.

Kernel Update Cadence
Kroah-Hartman maintains a very regular release cycle for Linux kernel updates with one to two stable releases a week.

"They consist of patches that are applied to Linus [Torvalds'] tree, where the maintainers of the subsystems have marked them to be back-ported to the stable trees," Kroah-Hartman explained. "Sometimes, they mark patches that later turn out to cause problems, and so, quick releases to back those broken fixes out, like what happened yesterday, happen."

The complete detailed rules on how a patch is applied to the stable tree, as well as direction on what types of patches are allowed, are documented on the main Linux development site, as well.

As a result of the rapid updates yesterday though, Kroah-Hartman noted that there is now a larger discussion going on about the speed of stable kernel releases. In a Linux Kernel Mailing Linux posting, Kroah-Hartman is now proposing a slowing down of the stable release process. Part of the proposal involves Kroah-Hartman's waiting for a development RC to come out with a given patch in it, before that patch lands in a stable release.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.