RealTime IT News

Linux 2.6's Sweet Sixteen

The second new Linux kernel release of the year is out with a myriad of changes to mark its sweet 16.

Among changes in the 16th major release in the 2.6 kernel branch include Oracle's OCFS2 cluster filesystem, support for the Cell processor and numerous fixes discovered by Coverity code analysis.

The previous kernel was released at the beginning of the year.

The Oracle OCFS2 clustered file system was officially open sourced last year by Oracle and is one of several clustered file systems vying for a piece of the Linux market.

OCFS2 competitors include Red Hat's Global File System (GFS), Veritas Storage Foundation Cluster File System and Sun's SAM FS and QFS.

The Cell Broadband processor also gets some attention in the 2.6.16 kernel release. First released in February 2005 and a joint effort of IBM, Toshiba and Sony, the Cell is the engine behind the upcoming Sony PlayStation 3 (which is expected to be running Linux), as well as a 400 gigaflops IBM BladeCenter.

Among the patches for the Cell processor in the 2.6.16 release is one that adds platform detection code. If a note published by the patch's author is any indication, it's not entirely clear how accurate the platform detection code will be at the outset.

"I can't really get a conclusive answer from the firmware people what to check for, so I just try scanning for anything that starts with "IBM,CPB," which should be correct for all hardware produced so far and for systemsim," Linux kernel committer Arnd Bergmann wrote.

The Transparent Inter Process Communication (TIPC) protocol gets Linux kernel support in 2.6.16. TIPC is a protocol cluster communication service originally developed at Ericsson Research.

Last year, embedded systems vendor Wind River open sourced its VxWorks TIPC implementation.

Linux's implementation of the Datagram Congestion Control Protocol (DCCP) protocol expands with this release.

DCCP is a transport layer protocol that, according to its technical abstract, is intended to provide, "a congestion-controlled flow of unreliable datagrams."

DCCP is expected to overcome the congestion control limitations of UDP to provide better communication for delay-sensitive applications. Linux 2.6.16 adds DCCP support for IPv6 , among its numerous DCCP patches.

The effect of the Coverity code analysis effort is also apparent in the 2.6.16 release.

Among the fixes resulting from Coverity code analysis is an entry is Linux kernel commit. Other fixes include a NULL pointer deference, an entry removing "dead" code, and one titled "Fix array overrun."

Coverity is currently engaged on a Department of Homeland Security grant that is looking to help improve open source code quality.

Coverity also has a previous arrangement with the kernel community that has helped to improve code quality as well as demonstrate a low level of defect density.