RealTime IT News

Tweaks, Regressions in Latest Linux Kernel

The third stable major Linux Kernel update of the year, v. 2.6.13 was released this week. The new kernel includes a long list of updates, a few enhancements and even an odd regression.

Among the new enhancements to the Linux kernel is "Kexec," which allows for a fast reboot without the need to go through a bootloader.

Also included in the new kernel: the Inotify file system event monitoring mechanism. Inotify uses a more efficient API than its predecessor dnotify, ensuring a more granularity of monitoring for performance and security tasks.

Not all patches submitted for the 2.6.13 kernel are new.

"Some revert back to 2.6.12 behavior - you've seen the discussions, and I'm sure we'll end up discussing things further for a long while still, but the plan is to release 2.6.13 with known behavior characteristics," Linux creator Linus Torvalds wrote in a mailing list posting about the release.

The 2.6.13 version is the second kernel to be released since Torvalds and the other kernel developers changed from the BitKeeper system to Git for the 2.6.12 release in June That release was plagued by a pair of critical flaws that were fixed just days after the release.

A new kernel release "process" is also in the works, though it doesn't apply to the 2.6.13 release. The new process is supposed to help streamline development and improve the frequency of releases. The 2.6.13 kernel actually went through seven different release candidates before being finalized.

"As many of you are aware, we were talking (not enough) about the release process at LKS {Linux Kernel Summit} this year. This ain't it," Torvalds wrote in post to the Linux Kernel Developers list.

"But the good news is that I'll try the new release process after 2.6.13 is out," Torvalds continued. "Which means that we should try to let people know about the fact that if they want to merge stuff, they should do so in the first two weeks after the 2.6.13 release, and no later (also, no earlier either, by now)."

The changelog for the 2.6.13 kernel release also reveals the kernel developers' effort to improve code quality with the Coverity code checking engine.

At the beginning of August, Coverity issued a report claiming that the defect density in Linux had declined to 0.16 from 0.17 between December 2004 and July 2005.