Introducing the 2.6 Kernel

Scheduler and audio improvements are only two of the features you'll notice when the 2.5 development series becomes 2.6. Here's a kernel hacker's view into the near future.
New Sound Layer

The long-awaited merge of the advanced Linux sound architecture (ALSA) began in kernel 2.5.5. ALSA has a number of improvements over open sound system (OSS), the previous sound layer. Most importantly, ALSA provides a much more robust and feature-filled API than OSS. ALSA drivers and the accompanying user-space library (alsa-lib) allow for the creation of advanced audio applications with minimal effort.

ALSA supports a large number of sound devices and provides a backward-compatible OSS interface. For users who still require or prefer OSS, however, drivers most likely will remain through 2.6.

A Look to the Future

It may be a bit irresponsible to begin looking past 2.6 before it is even released. It is interesting, however, to consider what we may see (or at least want to see) in the 2.7 development kernel. With luck, we will see the long-desired tty (terminal) layer rewrite. The tty layer has grown into a large and confusing hack.

Also high on everyone's wish list is a SCSI layer rewrite. Currently, the SCSI layer is too dumb and its drivers are too smart. It also may be possible to unify parts of the IDE and SCSI layers into a generic disk layer. Whatever the case, the SCSI layer needs a bit of cleanup.

After these items, the rest is uncertain. It is risky to make any predictions; the above are mere observations on what we need today. As always, the actual work in 2.7 will depend on the itch the developers feel like scratching.

Regardless of the future, the 2.6 kernel looks great—excellent scalability, swift desktop response, improved fairness and happily cooperating VM and VFS layers.

email: rml@tech9.net

Robert Love is a kernel hacker who works on various projects, including the preemptive kernel and the scheduler. He is a Mathematics and Computer Science student at the University of Florida and a kernel engineer at MontaVista Software. He hates fish.

______________________

White Paper
Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI

Linux has become a key foundation for supporting today's rapidly growing IT environments. Linux is being used to deploy business applications and databases, trading on its reputation as a low-cost operating environment. For many IT organizations, Linux is a mainstay for deploying Web servers and has evolved from handling basic file, print, and utility workloads to running mission-critical applications and databases, physically, virtually, and in the cloud. As Linux grows in importance in terms of value to the business, managing Linux environments to high standards of service quality — availability, security, and performance — becomes an essential requirement for business success.

Learn More

Sponsored by Red Hat

White Paper
Private PaaS for the Agile Enterprise

If you already use virtualized infrastructure, you are well on your way to leveraging the power of the cloud. Virtualization offers the promise of limitless resources, but how do you manage that scalability when your DevOps team doesn’t scale? In today’s hypercompetitive markets, fast results can make a difference between leading the pack vs. obsolescence. Organizations need more benefits from cloud computing than just raw resources. They need agility, flexibility, convenience, ROI, and control.

Stackato private Platform-as-a-Service technology from ActiveState extends your private cloud infrastructure by creating a private PaaS to provide on-demand availability, flexibility, control, and ultimately, faster time-to-market for your enterprise.

Learn More

Sponsored by ActiveState