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Linux Weather Forecast

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Revision as of 16:46, 11 January 2009 by Corbet (Talk | contribs)

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Welcome to the Linux Weather Forecast. This page is an attempt to track ongoing developments in the Linux development community that have a good chance of appearing in a mainline kernel and/or major distros sometime in the near future. Your "chief meteorologist" is Jonathan Corbet, Executive Editor at LWN.net. If you have suggestions on improving the forecast (and particularly if you have a project or patchset that you think should be tracked), please add your comments to the Discussion page.

There's a blog that reports on the main changes to the forecast. You can view it directly or use a feed reader to subscribe to the blog feed. You can also subscribe directly to the changes feed for this page to see feed all forecast edits.

Forecast summaries

Current conditions: the current kernel release is 2.6.28 (released December 24, 2008). Some of the features in this kernel include:

  • Many block layer improvements, including support for emergency head parking (when a laptop is falling off a table, for example), better solid-state storage device support, and more.
  • The "ext4dev" filesystem has been renamed to "ext4," signalling that this filesystem is getting close to ready for production use.
  • Support for wireless regulatory compliance.
  • The kernel now has support for ultrawideband radio which, in turn, is the basis for a new wireless USB layer.
  • Support for Nokia's Phonet protocol.
  • Kernel memory management support (the Graphics Execution Manager) has been merged for the Intel i915 driver. This is an important step forward for proper 3D graphics support in Linux.
  • A number of memory management improvements, mostly aimed at large-system scalability.
  • The container freezer, another piece of the large "containers" puzzle.
  • Quite a bit of low-level kernel tracing support, including tracepoints and the low-level trace buffer, has been merged.

Some statistics: the 2.6.28 kernel incorporated almost 9,000 changes from almost 1300 developers. This makes it a slightly smaller development cycle than its predecessors, but it is still a lot of code to merge over the course of less than three months.

See the KernelNewbies.org 2.6.28 page for a vast amount of detail about this release.


Short-term forecast: The 2.6.29 kernel will most likely come out in March, 2009. The merge window for this development cycle closed with the release of 2.6.29-rc1 on January 10. Some of the key features in 2.6.29 will be:

  • Kernel-based mode setting for graphics adapters - for Intel hardware in particular, at this time. The addition of this code is the beginning of the end of a multi-year effort to rationalize our handling of 3D graphics hardware and provide a top-quality graphical experience to Linux users.
  • The development version of the Btrfs filesystem. Btrfs is widely expected to become the default Linux filesystem in the future, but it remains in a developmental stage currently and should not be used for production data.
  • The squashfs filesystem. Squashfs is a compressed, read-only filesystem used in embedded systems and in live CD distributions. It has long been packaged by distributors, but has only now made it into the mainline.
  • The Linux networking subsystem now has native WiMAX support.
  • As usual, dozens of new drivers have been merged.

All told, some 8800 changesets were merged for the 2.6.29-rc1 release, making this development cycle a relatively large one.

Specific areas of interest

The forecast has been divided into a number of specific subject areas.


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