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Latest Linux Kernel Hits

A great gift was left under the Christmas tree for the Linux community this past weekend. Referred to by its creator Linus Torvalds as "Woozy Numbat," the present is otherwise known as the 2.6.10 Linux Kernel release.

The tenth stable version of the 2.6 Linux Kernel includes a long list of patches, fixes and updates spanning the range of the operating system's operations.

"Ok, with a lot of people taking an x-mas break, here's something to play with over the holidays (not to mention an excuse for me to get into the Glvgg for real ;)," Torvalds wrote in an e-mail posting announcing the release.

As is typical in kernel development, 2.6.10 includes items that did not for whatever reason make it into its 2.6.9 predecessor.

"A fair number of patches that were waiting for 2.6.9 to be out are in here, ranging all over the map: merges from -mm, network (and net driver) updates, SATA stuff, Bluetooth, SCSI, device models, janitorial, you name it," Torvalds wrote when the first 2.6.10 release candidate was announced in October.

When the second 2.6.10 release candidate was announced in November, Torvalds noted that the changes were almost as great as those in the first release candidate. At the time he advised members of the Linux Kernel Mailing List to "calm down" as from that point forward he only wanted to have bug fixes made until 2.6.10 was officially released. "Otherwise we'll never get there," mused Torvalds.

Long lists of driver updates are also part of 2.6.10, which was out on Friday. As Torvalds notes, "many of them of the small and trivial kind, others less so."

Among the patches are a wireless extension patch, as well as updates to USB, IDE, SCSI, ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture), as well as core device model and PCI updates. Architecture updates to ppc64, m68k, uml, parisc and arm are also part of the new kernel.

The 2.6 kernel branch was first officially released just over a year ago. The 10 stable official releases of 2.6 over the last 12 months shows a slower pace of releases than its 2.4 predecessors.

Between January 2001 when 2.4 was released and December of that year, 17 versions of the kernel were released (source - http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v2.4/). The test 2.5 branch, which ultimately led to the 2.6 kernel, started in December 2001. To date, Torvalds has not initiated a 2.7 test branch, instead all kernel development efforts are happening in the 2.6.x branch.

The 2.6 kernel is currently included in Novell's SUSE Linux, Mandrake and Red Hat's Fedora Core project. The upcoming Red Hat Enterprise 4 release and Debian "Sarge" release will also be running a 2.6 kernel.

The final kernel release for 2004 caps a banner year for Linux, with companies big and small jumping on the open source operating systems bandwagon. The demand for Linux is expected to grow during the next four years. According to research firm IDC, the overall forecast market revenue for Linux is expected to exceed $35 billion by 2008.