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Linux 2.6 Arrives


The long-awaited Linux 2.6, with significant improvements across the board, has finally arrived. However, it won’t be adopted by major Linux distributors until the summer of 2004.

Linus Torvalds released the long-awaited Linux 2.6 on Wednesday night, although it wont be adopted by major Linux distributors any time soon.

The release, which Torvalds announced to the Linux-kernel mailing list, comes almost three years after the last Linux release, 2.4, in January 2001. (Late beta versions of the 2.6 kernel have been available since July.) The source code is now available at The Linux Kernel Archive.

In his announcement note, Torvalds wrote, “This should not be a big surprise to anybody … since weve been building up to it for a long time now, and for the last few weeks I havent accepted any patches except for what amounts to fairly obvious one-liners.”

Linux 2.6 isnt flawless. “Some known issues were not considered to be release-critical, and a number of them have pending fixes,” Torvalds said. “Generally, they just didnt have the kind of verification yet where I was willing to take them in order to make sure a fair 2.6.0 release.”

Torvalds will continue to track the Linux 2.6 tree, but now that Linux 2.6 is a stable release, he will begin to turn his attention to the next version of Linux, 2.7, and Andrew Morton will take over as the maintainer of Linux 2.6.

Commercial releases of the 2.6 kernel by major Linux distributors still remain months away. Red Hat Inc. wont be adding 2.6 until the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 product line comes out in 2005. SuSE Linux AG will include 2.6 sooner with its summer 2004 release of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.

This new version of Linux brings several improvements for enterprise users. It now supports up to 32 processors, 64GB of memory with 32-bit processors, and new file systems such as IBMs Journaling File System (JFS) and Silicon Graphics Inc.s XFS. Version 2.6 also supports Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA), which will aid it on advanced multiprocessing systems.

Linux 2.6 also includes fundamental improvements in how it deals with devices, which should make it easier for OEMs to deploy Linux on their computers. In addition, this Linux has improvements to almost every element of the operating system, from system processing to networking to expanded support for embedded devices. For more technical details on Linux 2.6s changes, see IBM’s “Towards Linux 2.6” white paper and Joseph Pranevich’s “The Wonderful World of Linux 2.6.

A version of this story first appeared in eWEEK.

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