Linux.conf.au: Latest Linux kernel release due early March

2.6.33 to include reverse-engineered drivers for nVidia chipsets

LWN.net president and key kernel contributor Jonathan Corbet

LWN.net president and key kernel contributor Jonathan Corbet

The latest release of the Linux kernel, 2.6.33 is expected to be out by the beginning of March and among its new features is a reverse-engineered driver for Nvidia graphics chipsets.

Jonathan Corbet, Linux kernel contributor, co-founder of LWN.net and the lead author of Linux Device Drivers, Third Edition, will give Linux.conf.au attendees a full update on the Linux kernel at the conference on Wednesday. He told Computerworld version 2.6.33 is “pretty well along in production”.

“All the features have been added and we are testing stablisation now,” he said. “One of my favourite things would be a driver called Nouveau.”

The driver has been reverse-engineered for Nvidia graphics chipsets, which constitutes a major part of the desktop market. Nvidia doesn’t cooperate in terms of drivers so the effort has involved about a dozen developers from all over the world, including Australia.

“It has been a master reverse engineering effort,” Corbet said. "In the last year we’ve seen a great deal of work done on graphics drivers.”

For any one kernel release there are about 1100 developers involved. Bug fixes make up a substantial part, but there are also more extensive changes. The last kernel update, 2.6.32, was released in December 2009.

The latest Linux kernel will include dynamic ftrace, which allows a sysadmin to add a probe to the system and see what's happening and answer questions about the operating system and user programs, including mission-critical applications.

“It’s our answer to DTrace in Solaris,” Corbet said. “It won’t be entirely there but we’re a whole lot closer.

“If you’re looking at an organisation like a bank’s transaction processes or Google, they are really dependent on dynamic tracing.”

Tracing has provided one of the biggest challenges for the upcoming kernel release. The other major piece of work has occurred around scalability — not just very large systems, but very small ones too.

“It goes in both directions. The challenge is keeping up the pace of development.”

About 2000 developers work on the Linux kernel worldwide and about 50,000 changes are made to the code every year.

“The market for Linux is better than ever, especially when you consider it’s increasingly embedded in system such as smartphones,” Corbet said.

He added Windows 7 was still relevant for the desktop and he didn’t expect that to change but the desktop was giving way to other personal devices such as smartphones and E-readers.

“Nearly every electronic book reader out there runs Linux,” he said.

Corbett co-founded Linux Weekly News when he began his own Linux consulting business.

“We thought we’d take all the effort we were putting in to following what was happening in the industry and it was a way of drawing attention to our consultancy,” he said. Today, more than 4000 individuals and 100 companies subscribe to the site

Tags linux.conf.auopen sourcenvidialinux kernel

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12 Comments

Alexander Peter Kowalski

1

Good Luck "Penguins",

Your OS has come a LONG ways since I first tried it in Slackware 1.02 (circa 1993/1994 iirc) & you're making BIG STRIDES to making it even moreso, via efforts like the ones being reported on here.

Kudos!

Sincerely,

APK

P.S.=> Trying to do the SAME here, albeit for MS, in this report/conversation I am having w/ one of their senior mgt. fellows over at "/., here -> http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1467692&cid=30384918 (slashdot, but, considering this is a *NIX place, did I really HAVE to explain what /. is (root iirc? I think not, lol!))... apk

Mark

2

Admission that Linux Desktop is dead...

Tony

3

The desktop is dead, period. Any movement there is likely to be small. It's not even worth discussing. Mobile internet devices are the new battleground. Linux has the momentum at the moment, who knows what the future will bring. It will be interesting to watch.

DaveLoper

4

Thanks Jonathan and all the other individual and company contributors to this latest kernel. Your hard work and efforts are appreciated by many, many people in the world. We appreciate you all very, very much!

Ben

5

Linux Desktop Dead??? You must be kidding.. Or it simply shows your ignorance and the fact that you have not tried a recent desktop.. It is fast and smooth and reliable. I begrudgingly now occasionally need to boot ms windows up to and doesn't that just reaffirm how slow and painful it is to boot and use.. I shudder when I do it.. Thanks goodness it is extremely rare and only to use some old program that I can't be bother setting up again.

Wake up and try before you make STUPID comments like the linux desktop is dead.

zico

6

I can't agree more with Ben. Linux desktop is many things, but definitely not dead.

Recent ones that I have used (like Ubuntu and Open SuSe) are getting better and better with every release. The fact that I don't have too boot up MS Windows to do some graphic work, even play some games or FULLY enjoy multimedia shows that Linux desktop is alive and kicking.

Marcel

7

The linux desktop is alive!
I recently removed XP from my sons P4 system in favor of ubuntu. Only a few months after a reinstall XP had become horribly sluggish again, but these problems are over now.

At this moment there is nothing I cannot do running Linux and I even get a beautiful work-environment.

What more can one ask for?!?

Ian

8

Desktop is dead as much as COBOL as dead

gfsd

9

long live supercomputers with linux:)

waa

10

The Linux "desktop" is alive and well on my Nokia N900 - Oh and it can make phone calls too!

http://maemo.nokia.com/

Not affiliated, just a HAPPY open-source/Linux (and now Nokia) Fan

Siv

11

@ian

I suspect a lot of the children posting here won't get your comment, but I totally agree.

Thise who think that mobiles are replacing desktops obviously haven't got a real job. Also anyone who thinks "the cloud" is the way to go want their bumps feeling.

MD: Why are all our staff sitting around doing nothing?
IT: Err .. Google's servers have gone down and are not expected back up until the end of the week!

or ...

MD: Why are all our staff sitting around doing nothing?
IT: Err .. Our ISP is having problems, they say once the new servers are installed we should be back up until the end of the week!

or ...

MD: Why are all our staff sitting around doing nothing?
IT: Err .. A local contractor has just dug through our fibre optic lines, once our ISP can get someone out we should back up by the end of the week!

Oh yes, I think NOT!

Alexander Peter Kowalski

12

@ SIV: You make some points, but, I have to clarify that I'm not in the "illustrious group" you refer to, in your post above (lol, & I tend to agree with you)...

SO - Per your statements, which I'll quote here next below:

----

"I suspect a lot of the children posting here won't get your comment, but I totally agree." - Siv

Per my subject-line above? I've done COBOL (77 std. first, back in 1984 whilst in academia on my 1st degree in this "art & science" of computing (CIS/Business Admin), & then later again in 1993 on my 2nd degree in this field with the COBOL-85 std. (straight CSC))

PIC statements & all... ugh!

----

"Thise who think that mobiles are replacing desktops obviously haven't got a real job." - Siv

I'm somewhat inclined to agree. However, there IS a LOT of opportunities for folks on Mobile Phones & coding them (JAVA for instance, is the "reason why" I have gone back, yet again, for more formal coursework in academia recently (for learning more "advanced topics" in it, & also to learn to program mobile devices (via emulators on PC's)).

I think it has a future, by ALL means, but I agree with you, 110%, that mainframes (yes, they'll be around, even though "Client-Server" costing + clustered performance has made them less practical), midranges, & servers + PC's will always be there too...

----

"Also anyone who thinks "the cloud" is the way to go want their bumps feeling." - Siv

Heh, you sound like an older gent... this is NOT a "putdown" (which SO many youngsters TRY to use, saying OUR (yes, "OUR" because I am in my mid 40's now myself) ways, & experience is largely "useless" out there today - but, many older folks continue to learn & grow, like anyone should, but we also have our decades of experience professionally as well as academically on our sides as well... they do not!)

Anyhow/anways - Just thought I'd "put that out there" is all...

APK

P.S.=> I replied here, albeit "off topic" but in response to your statements is all... I just don't want to be in the "CROWD" you're referring to is all, so...

Thanks for listening! apk

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