Linus Torvalds made a Mother's Day gift to the world in the form of the 3.10-rc1 kernel prepatch. With this release, the merge window for the 3.10 development cycle has closed, so we know which features to expect this time around.
As has recently been announced on the main kernel.org page, the main kernel.org server (known as “hera”) was recently compromised by an unknown intruder. This person was able to gain “root” access, meaning they had the full run of the system. Speaking as just one of many members of the kernel development community, I can say that this episode is disturbing and embarrassing. But I can also say that there is no need to worry about the integrity of the kernel source or of any other software hosted on the kernel.org systems.
Over the course of the last month or so, numerous people have asked me for my opinion on what’s going on with the ARM architecture in Linux. It seems time to broadcast those thoughts more widely. For those who don’t want to read the whole thing, the short version is this: Linux on ARM is a victim of its own success and, as a result, is going through some growing pains. That has created a lot of noise, but all that’s really needed is a bit of house cleaning.
Linus Torvalds announced the release of the 2.6.38 kernel on March 14. Like its predecessors, 2.6.38 incorporates a lot of work - over 9,500 patches from over 1,100 developers. There are a number of useful changes, including some important scalability improvements, but, in my mind, the most interesting theme behind this kernel is that of making advanced features Just Work.
So, as most people will have heard, the 2.6.34 kernel was released on May 16. Back in February, I was predicting a mid-May release, so I hit it almost exactly. That says nothing about my prediction skills, though (which are horrible) and a lot about how the kernel development process is going. It has become a very predictable, nearly boring affair.
It has now been almost exactly five years since kernel development community tentatively started using the git source code management system with the 2.6.12-rc2 commit. That was an uncertain time; nobody really knew how long it would take the development process to get back up to speed after an abrupt core-tool change. As it turned out, git was almost immediately useful, and has only become more so since. Making the development process work is git’s main claim to fame, but, as a side benefit, git also makes it possible to learn a lot about how our kernel is developed.
Linus has released the 2.6.33-rc1 prepatch, closing the merge window for this development cycle. This kernel has a few features which will shake things up, with dynamic tracing being near the top as far as I am concerned. But, perhaps, the most interesting addition is one that almost nobody expected: a reverse-engineered driver for NVIDIA graphics chipsets called “Nouveau.”
So I’ve just returned from Tokyo, where I attended the 2009 Kernel Summit and the first ever Japan Linux Symposium. My body clock is expected sometime later this week. It was a tiring but rewarding week, and not just because the sushi was so good.
The Kernel Summit went well. There are not a whole lot of earthshaking decisions to report from there; the real news seems to be that the process is working quite well despite the record pace of change and no serious changes are required.
So I am hitting the road next week. It should be no surprise that LinuxCon and the Linux Plumbers Conference are coming up. I have a talk (the well-travelled Kernel Report) and the kernel developers’ panel, both on Monday; I fully expect to be tired by the end. There’s a lot of other interesting stuff happening at LinuxCon, which is being held for the first time ever. I’m looking forward to seeing how it comes out.
After a development cycle lasting exactly three months (June 9 to September 9), Linus Torvalds has released the 2.6.31 kernel. This cycle saw the inclusion of almost 11,000 different changes from over 1100 individual developers representing some 200 companies; a minimum of 16% of the changes came form developers representing only themselves. In other words, over the last three months, Linux kernel developers were putting 118 changes into the kernel every day. That is a lot of work.