Linux Kernel News - October 2013

Mainline Release (Linus's tree) News

Linus Torvalds released 3.12 on November 3 2013 after seven 3.12 rc cycles. This time around, instead of opening the merge window right after the release, Linus chose to delay it by a week. The 3.13 merge window will be open on November 10th. In this release announcement, Linus started a discussion on bug-fix only 4.0 idea. The switch from 3.x numbering could happen roughly a year from now, after 3.19 or 3.20 is released. There is a desire to not let 3.x release numbering get too large. Hence, very likely after 3.19, major release number will be changed to 4.0

Please read the announcement at Linux 3.12 and follow the discussion on Linus's bug fix only 4.0 release idea which was originally suggested in a keynote session at the LinuxCon Europe. In addition to the obvious boredom from a bug-fix only release without the new feature excitement, there is also a concern that there will be a rush to get features into the last release prior to the bug-fix only release. This rush could make the maintainer job harder than it already is.

If you haven't had a chance to watch the video for the LinuxCon Europe keynote session, Linux: Where Are We Going - Dirk Hohndel, Chief Linux and Open Source Technologist, Intel and Linus Torvalds, Fellow, The Linux Foundation, please do. It gives you insight into what Linus's view of the role maintainers play, managing complex software project such as Linux, and keys to effectively compete in open source in general. A few quotes from Linus Torvalds from the discussion:

The reason I do open source is A. it is fun and B. it works. I am a Live and Let Die kind of Darwinistic person. The companies that learn to get things upstream will waste less time. If you are a company that thinks that your tiny little change to the kernel is what gives you the competitive edge you may need to rethink your economic plans. You have to have something bigger to keep you afloat in the long run. Don't worry about others knowing what you do, learn to compete in the open. It is hard and not a lot of people want to be in open competition.
"Developers are slightly moronic woodland creatures, it doesn't help giving them more time" - while answering a question about allowing a week between one release and starting the merge for the next.
On maintainers role: It is fun, and difficult. Maintainers need to be responsive, responsible, and be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year. They also need to say no to patches that aren't right.
On kernel license change question. It will not change and will be GPL2. Linus doesn't see any reason to change it. "We give source and you give back" is the message.

Stable release News

As of this writing the latest stable releases are as follows:

    Stable 3.11: Current latest version is 3.11.7 Longterm 3.10: Current latest version is 3.10.18. Projected EOL is September 2015. Longterm 3.4: Current latest version is 3.4.68. Projected EOL is October 2014. Longterm 3.2: Current latest version is 3.2.52. Projected EOL is 2016. Longterm 3.0: EOL version is 3.0.101. Went EOL on October 22 2013. Extended stable 3.8.y.z: Current latest version is Extended stable 3.5.y.z: Current latest version is Longterm 2.6.34: Current latest version is Projected EOL is mid-2013 Longterm 2.6.32: Current latest version is Projected EOL is mid-2014 Linux RT stable releases are numerous. Please checkout linux-stable-rt.git for their latest versions.

LinuxCon Europe and co-located events News

LinuxCon Europe and Kernel Summit were held from October 21-25, 2013 in Edinburgh, UK. Linux Conferences provide opportunities to developers to come together to discuss new ideas and solutions to problems in face to face meetings. In addition to face to face developer meetings, Linux Conferences also feature talks and presentations on various Linux Kernel and Linux Kernel eco-system topics by Linux developers and Open Source experts. Read on for my thoughts and take away from the LinuxCon Europe and sessions I attended.

Keynote: We Won. What's Next? - Mark Hinkle, Director of Community, CitrixAn inspiring talk on what's next for Linux and how Linux and open source methodology could benefit closed fields such as Medicine. How in the next 5-10 years, all of us in open source could showcase the power of knowledge sharing to other industries. Sharing knowledge in building medical devices could help lower the cost of health care. Power Capping - Keeping Linux Within Power Limits Efficiently - Jacob Pan, Intel Corp - Jacob Pan, Intel Corp.

This talk summarized the techniques available to Linux to respond to power and thermal limits, contrasting their effectiveness. It also detailed power-clamp, a new technique to manage power through idle injection. Results presented in this talk show how power-clamp can provide high efficiency operation as compared to previous power capping techniques. All and all very informative talk. I would have liked to see not just the power savings with each of these method, but also the latency to come back up into fully operational state. A transaction benchmark is used for these measurements. It would have been good to measure how long it takes for the server to start processing at full peak after it has been moved out of each of these low power states.

Hunting down races in the Linux Kernel - Eugene A. Shatokhin, ROSA

This talk gave an overview of tools that could be used to detect data races in the kernel. KernelStrider, a component of KEDR Framework that collects data about the operation of the kernel modules in runtime was discussed. The data are then analyzed by an "offline" detector in the user-space to actually reveal the races. The tool instruments the target kernel module. Unfortunately these tools are not open yet and something that might happen in the future.

OPW: Bringing Women into the Linux Kernel - Moderated By Sarah Sharp, Intel Corp.

Sara Sharp said "In 2006, the GNOME foundation started the FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW) in order to introduce more women to open source. Women who are accepted as OPW interns receive $5,000 to work on an open source project for three months. Women can apply to many different FOSS projects, like Debian, TOR, Perl, Wikimedia, and Wordpress. This year, the Linux kernel joined OPW for the first time, and the response was amazing!". In this talk, the OPW interns shared their projects and their plans for future. A few of them are still in the middle of their projects and committed to completing them. It is awesome to hear their achievements and kudos to all of them and their mentors. The OPW program is looking for corporate sponsors for their upcoming session that starts in December. Intel and Linaro are the current sponsors.

Please visit the event home page linuxcon-europe_2013 for comments and insights from this panel discussion.

Final Thoughts

Next up is the 3.13 merge window and decisions on bug-fix only release coming out of the discussion which is active at the moment. The good news is that the Linux kernel will continue to evolve and there is more fun to be had well into the foreseeable future. Next up is the Korea Linux Forum scheduled to be held from November 13 - 14, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea.

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