RealTime IT News
Linux Kernel Hits 2.6.24
By Sean Michael Kerner
January 25, 2008

The first new Linux kernel of 2008 is now out, showcasing improvements that run the gambit of bug fixes to new performance and feature enhancements.

One addition found in the new 2.6.24 Linux kernel is the new ability for write-throttling code.

"This prevents one heavily-used block device from starving the other devices. so it's great for throughput enhancement," Joel Berman, director of marketing at Red Hat, told InternetNews.com.

Berman also said the new kernel's inclusion of what are known as kernel markers would prove very useful for developers. Kernel markers are used for deep tuning and debugging.

"This gets us closer to Dtrace, and makes SystemTap easier to use," Berman said. Dtrace is the Sun Solaris technology that uses dynamic probes to monitor system performance. SystemTap is a similar approach for Linux.

The Linux 2.6.24 kernel also improves kernel utilization by way of new group scheduling technology. Berman explained that new approach fairly allocates groups' CPU usage.

For example, if there are four active groups, each group gets 25 percent of the CPU. If one group is made up of 10 users, another group has 100 and the other two have one each, the 100 in one group share their 25 percent of the machine.

Berman also noted that i386 and x86-64 sources for the kernel have been merged into one pool. That effort will help in quality assurance and removing duplication in patching.

Linux 2.6.24 also makes improvements for embedded developers. Jim Ready, CTO of MontaVista Linux, told InternetNews.com that that the inclusion of high-resolution and tickless timers for processors such as ARM MIPS should bode well. Both features are key components of a real-time Linux kernel.

"This is important for consumer and mobile devices that cannot run on Intel architecture," Ready said.

While the 2.6.24 Linux kernel has some specific areas of interest for Red Hat and MontaVista, a number of other other interested parties also made contributions.

According to the Linux Foundation's Linux Weather Forecast, more than 10,000 individual changesets were included during the 2.6.24 development cycle. Those changesets resulted in almost 300,000 lines of code being added to the kernel.

While Linus Torvalds is officially responsible for releasing the 2.6.24 kernel, the Linux Foundation Forecast noted that the new version's contributions came from 950 developers representing over 130 companies.