Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Now is the time to see how well the feature-frozen kernel works on your hardware, with your load.

A lot of people ask me, “When do you think the 2.6 kernel will be released?” My response to that question usually is, “Well, how well is the 2.5 kernel working for you?” Inevitably, during the resulting conversation where I plead with the person to please at least run the kernel once on their hardware, they respond with one of the following reasons why they have not tried 2.5:

  • Too many drivers are broken.

  • Modules are broken.

  • Alan Cox says it's not ready.

  • It might eat my filesystem.

Here are my responses to these reasons:

  • “Too many drivers are broken.”

    The reason why a reasonably large number of drivers do not even compile in the kernel tree today is no one has proven the driver is even needed. Usually drivers are broken due to API changes during the development cycle, when it is not a trivial change to fix. Examples of this problem were the large number of block layer changes and the removal of the cli() function.

    The only way these drivers will ever get fixed is if people say they need them fixed, as they are still using that kind of hardware. If you run across such a driver and you have the hardware, post to the mailing lists that you really want this driver fixed and that you are willing to test any changes people make. The kernel-janitors' mailing list is a very good place to ask this, as a lot of people there are looking for small tasks like this to accomplish.

  • “Modules are broken.”

    Modules have been working for quite a while now. Make sure you get the latest version of the module-init-tools package. If you are use an RPM-based distribution, get the .src.rpm file in that directory, rebuild it and install it. This file preserves backwards compatibility with 2.4. Debian users can apt-get module-init-tools, and all others can use the module-init-tools source tarball in that directory. (Make sure you read the documentation on how to install it properly.)

  • “Alan Cox says it's not ready.”

    In this message, Alan Cox stated that a number of things were still wrong with the 2.5 kernel, things that needed to be fixed before it could be called 2.6.0-test. His complaints about the IDE and tty layers have basically been addressed since then. (He has been pushing the 2.4 IDE changes to Linus, and the tty layer has had a number of locking problems fixed.) The major objections of people wanting to use the 2.5 kernel are gone. His other points about drivers building and things generally working are going to be addressed only by being tested by a large number of people, running the kernel on a wide range of machines. So what are you waiting for?

  • “It might eat my filesystem.”

    Sure, any kernel might do this; make sure you have backed up any data you really cannot live without. But this is true for any kernel release or operating system. Now, I don't recommend using the 2.5 kernel in a production environment yet. Others are already, read the latest newsletter from OSDL about how they are starting to do this for their datacenter. But, I will state that I run the 2.5 kernel on all of my machines except for my firewall, and it runs particularly better on my laptop than did the 2.4 kernel (due to the better ACPI support and scheduler changes.) I have never had a data loss due to the 2.5 kernel yet. (Knock on wood.)

So, there go all of the arguments. The only way kernel developers will know that the 2.5 kernel is working well enough to declare it a stable 2.6 kernel, is for people to actually run it on their machines. And for that we need you to actually run the kernel.

Remember, any bugs you might find can be filed in the new kernel Bugzilla, where it will be filed to the proper developer. It's a good alternative if you don't want to wade through the mess that the Linux-kernel mailing list can become at times.

Go forth to build and reboot!

Greg Kroah-Hartman is currently the Linux USB and PCI Hot Plug kernel maintainer. He works for IBM, doing various Linux kernel-related things.

______________________

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Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

where is the src.rpm he is talking about? There are modutils, but that version is older then the one on my redhat 9 system. Guess i should take the tar.gz then.

/Esben

DO NOT USE MODUTILS SOURCE RPM

Anonymous's picture

Do not use the modutils source RPM. After installing this, I get errors trying to boot a 2.4 kernel (/bin/insmod unable to run /bin/insmod.old), and the 2.5 kernel will not boot for an unknown reason.

As 2.5.66 is still a testing kernel, it is to be expected (if highly annoying) that it will not boot, however breaking my 2.4 fallback option is just inexcusable.

Hopefully building the module-init-tools package from source works.

Re: DO NOT USE MODUTILS SOURCE RPM

Anonymous's picture

Perhaps the root filesystem is ext3 but the kernel has ext3 compiled as a module rather than built-in and there's some problem with your initrd for 2.5.66.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

fea's picture

OK. Today I tried 2.5.66. After much trouble, I finally figure out that the default vt console was not good. So, I got the thing to boot. However, I cannot get the mouse or keyboard to work. The input devices section of menuconfig is where it is done somehow. I have ps/2 mouse and keyboard.

How do I enable these input devices with 2.5 configuration tools ?

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

When I attempt to boot 2.5.66, I get a message saying the usual Uncompressing the kernel... Booting Linux... then no more text appears on the screen, despite the system appearing to boot (there is hard disk access, etc.). In this case, I assume I have the same problem with the default console.

What did you do to overcome this problem? I've tried using both the generic text console and one of the framebuffer consoles, but neither seems to work when booting with default parameters.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

You have to select "Input device support" (make menuconfig)

CONFIG_INPUT: x

x x

x Say Y here if you have any input device (mouse, keyboard, tablet, x

x joystick, steering wheel ...) connected to your system and want x

x it to be available to applications. This includes standard PS/2 x

x keyboard and mouse. x

x x

x Say N here if you have a headless (no monitor, no keyboard) system. x

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

What a stupid thing to have disabled (input device support configured as a module, causing the VT option to not appear) by default. Do the people asking for testers really value the testers' time?

Encrypted partition?

Anonymous's picture

I gave 2.5.65 a try the other day and I could not mount my encrypted partition. It complains about cipher doesn't exist (or something like that) eventhough I loaded the module aes. Is it mount (2.11z) problem or kernel problem?

Re: Encrypted partition?

crimsun's picture

What steps are you taking to compile and mount your encyphered partition? What distro?

Re: Encrypted partition?

Anonymous's picture

I use debian SID (unstable) kernel source and crypto module source. I use standard make-kpkg to make the crypto modules and follow the Crypto API howto to setup and mount the encrypted partition. Very standard, no tricks involved.

I notice that the cipher module name in 2.4 kernel is cipher-aes while the module in 2.5 is aes. This's probably why mount fail to find the need cipher module.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

How easy is it to compile your own kernel under redhat 8.x? Is there anything special I would have to do to make it work? I'm just curious if things like kuduz need anything in the kernel to run properly. Thanks.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

unixjon's picture

Pretty easy the key is to make sure the .config is set

correctly via menuconfig / xconfig whatever you want

so here are basically the steps I took to get myself

up on 2.5.63 with patch -bk5 applied

cd /usr/src

untar the linux kernel

cd linux-2.5.63

patch -p1 < /tmp/patch-2.5.6.3-bk5

make clean; make mrproper

make oldconfig

make menuconfig

make bzImage

make modules; make modules_install

make install

I then had to edit /boot/grub/grub.conf and tweak the boot

device remove the LABEL section and replace with /dev/hda5

And reboot.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

crimsun's picture

It is a very straight-forward procedure; I believe Greg covered the only caveat in your needing the new module-init-tools if you plan to use modules with 2.5. Afaik Kudzu needs nothing special in-kernel.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

It panics directly after setting up mtrrs on my dual athlon tiger mp box ....

I seem to remember it doing exactly the same thing last time I tried it, back in the 2.5.40's and 2.5.50's.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

crimsun's picture

Does it do this as well with -mm4 ?

I gave 2.5.65 a spin last night.

Anonymous's picture

Compiled just fine (if anything it compiled a bit faster than 2.4.x has). The chnages to the layout in menuconfig took a little getting used to.

Booted fine. Had to change the name of the sound module in /etc/modules.conf (I generally prefer compiling into the kernel, but my Turtle Beach Santa Cruz occasionally goes wonky and unloading/loading the module seems to fix it).

Just two problems:

1) Access to USB harddrives doesn't appear to be buffered as well in 2.5.x. I have an Archos Recorder, which appears as a scsi harddrive when plugged in via USB. I keep most all of my music on it and play it w/ xmms. I noticed consistent blips in the music every time the Archos hd was accessed. This doesn't happen w/ my 2.4.19 kernel.

2) The mouse wheel on my Logitech TrackMan Marble+ stopped working when I booted the 2.5.65 kernel.

Other than that it seemed just fine. I didn't leave it running very long, as I didn't want to listen to blips everytime time xmms tries to read a new block of the song, and it turns out I've grown very used to having the mouse wheel work (it's quite handy for scrolling windows and adjusting the font size in Mozilla).

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

skaeight's picture

Linux is such a mess. I just really can't find a distro that I like, that will allow me to do everything I want it to do. Redhat comes somewhat close because granted it doesn't necessarily have a ports system or anything, but rpms are easily found for redhat. However I really don't like the fact that if I want to use up2date I'm going to have to fill out a survey every two months...i'm just starting to feel like they're becoming like that large company in seattle. Also I just don't like the idea of learning redhat not 'linux'.

So then I tried debian, its ok. I got debian unstable installed after a little bit of work. I love the idea of debian and I love it's spirit. The only thing is I know its going to end up breaking eventually being that I'm running sid because I want packages that aren't from the stone age, and I just don't feel like I have a whole lot of control over the system. The packagers basically run my sytem which is good and bad I guess (makes it easy easy).

Then i thought, why don't I give slackware a go. But I dont know, it really has very primitiave package management and do I want to be scouring the web for a library I need. I actually do have a life and if I spend more than an hour or so at my computer my girlfriend starts to get jealous ; ).

Gentoo seems a little immature, and i really don't want to sit there compliling my whole system. I do occasionally have to actually get work done on my machine as I'm still in school and finals are approaching. So where does all this lead me?

I think I may be heading over to FreeBSD. It just seems right to me. I know someone's goin to say well hows it different than gentoo, u still have compile ports. But ah....they have pkg add, their ports system has precompiled packages which I find very nice, to have a choice to compile or not. There I'm not going to have to worry about a particular distributions not allowing me to compile the kernel the way I want to because there only is one "distribution." From what I've read everything is integrated together becuase it's all developed by the same group.

I just can't find the right distro. If I'm missing something please let me know, becuase I've heard good things about what linux 2.6 is supposed to do and I'd like to try it out sometime.

Ya gets what ya pays for, Bluto.

Anonymous's picture

Red Hat pays a great deal of money to support the up2date service.

I personally have purchased a contract from them, that gives my company priority access when the public servers get flooded due to sendmail or ssl sploits or whatever. I figure that way my company can help prevent Red Hat from collapsing like the dot-bombs, and keep producing their serviceable distro and updates.

If you aren't able to afford to pay for a service that costs real money to provide, you shouldn't be whining about having to fill out a few surveys. After all, that's pretty cheap for 24x7 download access, I think Red Hat's stance is admirable (on this PARTICULAR issue, that is) personally.

Think about it.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

In Redhat you can use apt and synaptic(gui) from http://www.freshrpms.net to update rpms

They have also new packages.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

yes, I recommend this too. I found myself in a similar situation (can't settle on a distro) but I have been very happy with the combination of Debian's package manager with the newer, shinier packages of Red Hat.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

skaeight's picture

Sorry for all the spelling errors, I didn't read it all that closely before I posted it.

Doesn't boot on my work machine

Anonymous's picture

It won't even boot on my work machine, an IBM Desktop with a P4 and intel chipset. It stops after printing "Ok, booting the kernel.", which is very early in the boot process (right after uncompressing the kernel).

I've tried various combinations of ACPI/APM disabled and enabled and would have tried adding some printk's, but one of the first things it does in start_kernel is printk the banner.

The only console enabled is the standard VGA one.

(It also won't run on my SunBlade100 at home, but it gets much further. It oopses because the pci device lists are messed up - null pointers &c. This is a known problem.)

Re: Doesn't boot on my work machine

crimsun's picture

Both of the previous (above) replies are correct; you need to set CONFIG_INPUT to 'y', because CONFIG_VT depends on it being set to 'y'. I was helping someone I know debug this just moments ago (he used a Red Hat 8.0 .config, which sets CONFIG_INPUT=m, so he doesn't even see the Virtual terminal options under Character devices).

This is really a gotcha, so we need to yell loudly about this caveat on lkml.

Re: Doesn't boot on my work machine

Anonymous's picture

These three comments were a tremdous help. Thanks very much. I was struggling with just this problem. Had no idea what to do. Now the kernel I made boots. Wow.

Re: Doesn't boot on my work machine

Anonymous's picture

I know the sounds stupid, but where are these options? I have looked all over in menu config.

Are they called something different in 2.5.72?

Rodger

Re: Doesn't boot on my work machine

Anonymous's picture

You need to enable the virtual console. It's disabled by default (only God knows why). So your system is booting but not showing you anything.

Re: Doesn't boot on my work machine

Anonymous's picture

did you try to enable the virtual terminal support? also, input support

has NOT to be compiled as module (not sure about this last)

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

I thought I read somewhere that Linus put a moratorium on magic number assignment... that means an alternate method for device drivers needs to become the primary interface for future development. What is going to fill that need, I thought it was devfs?

New Module Init Tools Breaks Redhat

Anonymous's picture

Once the new 2.5 module tools get installed. Redhat no longer knows how ot build an initial ramdisk for 2.4 kernels...say goodby to kernel updates. mkinitrd uses the wrong version of insmod.

I used almost every single version of 2.3.x during development without much problem. But I have still never run 2.5 sucessfully. Almost, but not quite. 3dfx drivers generate just noise on the screen.

Re: New Module Init Tools Breaks Redhat

Anonymous's picture

I have this problem too. But now it get fix by:
1/ fix mkinitrd script as in the following
here

2/ rm the "initrd-2.4.x.img" and recreate one by
mkinitrd /boot/initrd-2.4.x.img 2.4.x

e.g. mkinitrd initrd-2.4.20-13.9custom.img 2.4.20-13.9custom
N.B. mkinitrd is the patched one.

It works in Red Hat 9.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

The article prompted me to do the right thing. I downloaded 2.5.65 , compiled , booted .. kernel panic. That's why i'm not testing the kernel. I think this is the first kernel that i haven't been able to compile and use, since around 1.3.x.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

gregkh's picture

Mind posting the oops message in bugzilla.kernel.org so the kernel developers know about this problem?

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

After some tinkering , i managed to get a bootable kernel. Noticed one bug , 'make modules_install' fails if you don't create /lib/modules/2.5.65 first. Although i can get 2.5.65 to boot, modutils complains about QM_MODULES being missing. Im using modutils 2.4.24.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

crimsun's picture

Are you using module-init-tools as well? (Most distros should provide this -- at least in their 'unstable' flavours)

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

I've been running 2.5 on my desktop computer quite a while and didn't have major problems. 2.4 is good, and 2.5 is even better for me.

In every case the latest 2.5.60 feels somewhat faster (responsiveness, block device I/O, ....) and I'm sure they're close or pretty close to releasing 2.6.0-test. IMHO the only things that remain to be fixed are little bugs and porting older drivers to newer APIs.

The only problem I'm having now are modules not working though I'm using the latest modutils 0.9.9 (modules just don't get loaded, no error messages). Maybe it's just me not having followed the installation instructions properly...

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

By the way for the module-init-tools package it is not only debian but also Mandrake-Linux in the latest 9.1 (soon to be released) include the module-init-tools package, simply :


urpmi module-init-tools

to get it installed.

Chmouel Boudjnah -- http://www.chmouel.com/

Gentoo as well!

Anonymous's picture

And Gentoo users have it as well: emerge sys-apps/module-init-tools. I warn you that, as of this writing, the package is masked, meaning you'll probably have to do something like the following:

ACCEPT_KEYWORDS="~x86" emerge sys-apps/module-init/tools

I've not made a switch yet, but when the ingo-linus patch was announced, I gave it a try. I was suitably impressed. I may get brave and go for it; the -ck line of kernels has enough of the 2.5 whizbang features to keep me happy for now, though.

Or, heck, I may switch this week. The new (and relatively minor!) kernel changes that helped interactive processes are really quite impressive to behold, if you've been put off by 2.4's performance as a desktop system.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

I have built several (the latest two being 2.5.58 and 2.5.59). Half the time the beast doesn't compile nicely. (and yes, I use new config scripts that I don't use for compiling 2.4.20 which I do use in production). Yes, there are a truckload of things that are broken (of 160 modules I use for 2.4, the current 2.5 builds I've tried generate about 30, so functionality is really lacking). It's tough to use a kernel for a long time when a pile of needed pieces are missing. Something half working and half broken is still half working (and worth fighting with). If the module isn't even there, you can't even fight with it (workarounds, bug reports, etc). At the authors urging, I will try 2.5.x again, but I do have a lot of bizarre hardware requirements (not just sound but firewire drives, scanners, tv tuner, cdrw and dvd, oddball networking requirements etc.). It's not that much fun to run a system with half the functionality gone.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

You're exactly the person they were addressing in the article above. They want to know if people are still using some of the oddball hardware; until they hear from you, they're not going to bother porting those drivers to the new APIs. I know I wouldn't want to waste my time porting drivers for 1x proprietary-interface CD-ROM drives if no one's even going to use it. Get on the kernel bugzilla site and tell them!!!

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

So you REALLY want a lot more testing to happen?

MAKE A SIMPLE HOW-TO FOR THE REST OF US!

Many of us that are not core kernel developers can't find instructions on how to add the 2.5 kernel to existing major distros. It amazes me that people write these articles complaining that not enough testing is going on, but they do not point to instructions, how-tos, etc that will let the masses easily participate in the testing.

We need a one or two page HOW-TO that tells users of existing major distros how they can compile and add the 2.5 kernel as a boot option.

As I have been told, if I recall this properly, there is more than just compiling the kernel. On some distros you need newer kernel utils or modutils, or some such. There are LOTS of people that would love to test the 2.5 kernel, but are not full developers. Some as Sysadmins that compile a kernel but need to be told about the other items needed to run 2.5. Some are hobbyists, some are managers and sales staff with linux laptops.

O.K.! We read your article. We know how to use bugzilla, we want to use the 2.5 kernel. Tell us how to help you.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

I second this motion.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

Amen to the howto request. If it takes gcc3.3 to build it, then where is the advisory that we'll need to dl and make bootstrap yet another vesion of the compiler? I've got a RH 8.0 system here, but with bluecurve ripped out and the real kde 3.1 installed.

I've been trying to build it intermittently since about 2.5.40, but have not succeeded in either getting thru a make xconfig session, or past about 20% of the build before it discovers there is something it just absolutely has to have, like a file thats supposed to be in the unpacked kernel sources archive, but cannot be found. And its not in the src tarball either.

So I have to agree, its no where near ready for prime time if we cannot build it and check it out on a fairly modern system.

--

Cheers, Gene

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

crimsun's picture

I'll continue to configure, compile, and run 2.5 with gcc-2.95 (2.95.4 Debian prerelease), so 2.5 should build just fine with at least 2.95.3 (as noted in the notes) -- older versions miscompile portions. gcc-3+ is not required but certainly works fine (as long as you're not tracking HEAD).

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

I agree, I would love to be able to give back to the community from a tester stand point but I'm not in the mood to spend 10 hours sifting through deja news to get caught up on the 2.5 build process either.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

gregkh's picture

Sorry, I don't know of a "simple" howto.

Basically if you know how to build a 2.4 kernel, go read Dave Jones's

execellent summary of what has changed in the 2.5 kernel. It will clue you

in on what needs to be changed or watched out for when building a 2.5

kernel.

It's linked to off of the very good kernel newbies status page.

Re: MAKE A SIMPLE HOW-TO FOR THE REST OF US!

Anonymous's picture

I absolutely agree! I remember a similar document created for 2.4 testing, that got me started with that release. I've tried using 2.5 several times, but could never even get the kernel to compile. A cookbook for the major distros would go a long way.

Even better... the major distros could release testing kernel packages, making it easier for the casual tester to get some experience with 2.5 and start reporting problems.

Nvidia also needs to get on the stick and release a compatible driver. There are too many people using Nvidia equipment that can't test without a driver. They are becoming a serious problem.

Re: MAKE A SIMPLE HOW-TO FOR THE REST OF US!

crimsun's picture

Nvidia's official stance is that they don't support non-vendor or non-vanilla stable kernels. There are patchsets to use to get the accelerated Nvidia drivers working with 2.5 (or 2.4-rmap), however; I've used them for quite some time. See http://www.minion.de/ . I'm using 2.5.65-mm3 with 1.0-4191 just fine.

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

Ever want to see Linux uptimes on Netcraft higher than 49.7 days? It won't happen unless someone fixes the tcp timestamps to match the new jiffies changes:

http://voidmain.is-a-geek.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=139

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

crimsun's picture

Iirc there are several approaches this alleviate this issue, but Linus hasn't seen one he's fully satisfied with. Patches are welcome...

Re: Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5

Anonymous's picture

I have searched for the last month for anything on the Linux Kernel Mailing List that would indicate that someone/anyone knows that this problem exists. If you could point me to some conversation that indicates Linus (or other key kernel hackers) know that this problem exists I would be happy.

I would be more than happy to contribute my patches that solve the problem, however, when my patches are applied the kernel will not boot. :) In other words, you don't want my patches. I don't even feel worthy enough to bring the issue up on LKML but was just hoping that someone who *is* worthy might bring it up or at least make mention of it.

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