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Where Is the Linux Kernel Going?

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2007-06-21 Print this article Print

For the immediate future, stablizing new features is the order of the day, but after that, power management takes center stage.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Last week, at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit held at the Googleplex, some of Linux's top kernel developers discussed the state of the Linux kernel today and where it might be going.

Among the kernel developers present were Andrew Morton, James Bottomley, Chris Wright, Ted T'so and Greg Kroah-Hartman. About the only top Linux kernel developer who wasn't present was Linus Torvalds, the originator of the kernel.

In a panel discussion chaired by Jon Corbett, a Linux developer himself and editor of LWN.net, the group took on many contentious issues. After introductions, in which the quiet Morton unexpectedly added a note of levity by remarking that "If you don't know who I am you shouldn't be here," Corbett started the panel off by asking, "Is the quality of the current kernel [Linux 2.6.21] horrific?"

Many in Linux development circles felt that too many "not ready for prime time" features were added in the 2.6.21 kernel. Such features included the introduction of the "tickless" kernel and a new IDE (integrated drive electronics) sub-system, along with major changes in how Linux deals with ACPI (advanced configuration and power interface).

Morton fielded this one, noting, "Back in the 2.4 days, we worked on technology for others—a technology that could be turned into a product—and for ourselves. With Linux 2.6, we are concentrating more on creating that technology instead of creating a product. Our major feedback now comes from the vendors. They're the customers. I'm not sure I believe them, but they say it's OK."

Still, "We need to work on regressions more," Morton allowed, conceding that "2.6.21 was perhaps a bit more buggy than it should be."

Much of the work on the soon-to-arrive 2.6.22 kernel is being devoted to stabilizing these new features. Bottomley observed that the Linux kernel developers must deal with the "tension between new features and stabilizing those features." He urged users to remember that, "If you're running Fedora Core 7, then you're helping us to stabilize and test the kernel."

Read the full story on Linux-Watch.com: Where Is the Linux Kernel Going?

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor of eWEEK.com's Linux & Open Source Center and Ziff Davis Channel Zone. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.
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