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Linux Software

Linux Kernel 2.6.20 Released 240

diegocgteleline.es writes "After two months of development, Linux 2.6.20 has been released. This release includes two different virtualization implementations: KVM: full-virtualization capabilities using Intel/AMD virtualization extensions and a paravirtualization implementation usable by different hypervisors. Additionally, 2.6.20 includes PS3 support, a fault injection debugging feature, UDP-lite support, better per-process IO accounting, relative atime, relocatable x86 kernel, some x86 microoptimizations, lockless radix-tree readside, shared pagetables for hugetbl, and many other things. Read the list of changes for more details."
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Linux Kernel 2.6.20 Released

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  • so (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:05PM (#17883508)
    how much of SCO's stolen code is in this version?
  • by reset_button ( 903303 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:08PM (#17883522)
    In a widely anticipated move, Linux "headcase" Torvalds today announced
    the immediate availability of the most advanced Linux kernel to date,
    version 2.6.20.

    Before downloading the actual new kernel, most avid kernel hackers have
    been involved in a 2-hour pre-kernel-compilation count-down, with some
    even spending the preceding week doing typing exercises and reciting PI
    to a thousand decimal places.

    The half-time entertainment is provided by randomly inserted trivial
    syntax errors that nerds are expected to fix at home before completing
    the compile, but most people actually seem to mostly enjoy watching the
    compile warnings, sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, scroll past.

    As ICD head analyst Walter Dickweed put it: "Releasing a new kernel on
    Superbowl Sunday means that the important 'pasty white nerd'
    constituency finally has something to do while the rest of the country
    sits comatose in front of their 65" plasma screens".

    Walter was immediately attacked for his racist and insensitive remarks
    by Geeks without Borders representative Marilyn vos Savant, who pointed
    out that not all of their members are either pasty nor white. "Some of
    them even shower!" she added, claiming that the constant stereotyping
    hurts nerds' standing in society.

    Geeks outside the US were just confused about the whole issue, and were
    heard wondering what the big hoopla was all about. Some of the more
    culturally aware of them were heard snickering about balls that weren't
    even round.

    • Ahhhh... yes... The National Championship in Armpitoval!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by oever ( 233119 )
      For those of us outside of the US: Anheuser-Busch [anheuser-busch.com] is a brewery conglomerate, probably a bit like Bavaria [bavaria.com].
  • by Professr3 ( 670356 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:09PM (#17883530)
    Where would we be without lockless radix-free readsides? I don't even know what that means, and I'm a CS major!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I admit to not knowing what they are either, but here it is - radix tree [wikipedia.org]. Sounds like a pretty nice tree data structure, an alternative to your hashtables, balanced trees, etc. designed for sets of strings.

      Since I love the PHP and PERL implementations of associate arrays, I guess it's neat to have these data structures implemented directly in the kernel! Sounds like they might be using them as a sort of in-memory data store.

    • Re:Too many tlas? (Score:5, Informative)

      by xenocide2 ( 231786 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:35PM (#17883708) Homepage
      This comment hurts my brain. You bitch about TLAs but they're not even acronyms. Do you even know what TLA stands for?!

      Lockless means it's doing something without locking everyone else from the data. Sometimes this means optimistic resolution (everyone try, and if it looks like it screwed up, try again!), sometimes it means keeping local read copies, sometimes it means something new and/or crazy. Lockless approaches are used when you have data that lots of threads must share but efficiency concerns or non-blocking requirements force you away from simply using a lock and blocking when someone else is playing with the data.

      A radix-tree [wikipedia.org], as opposed to "radix-free", is a data structure used in certain applications, with operations dependent on the length of the key rather than the amount of data stored. In 2.6.20 [kernel.org] (and others), it's used to organize some information about the page cache.

      This code is associated with the RCU, which you may recall is part of an SCO lawsuit. If you're interested in any other feature or changes, the kernel newbies site is instrumental!
      • by aug24 ( 38229 )
        Aw, come one, give the buy a break cos he's clearly not that clever. He can't even (sort of) spell 'Profess3r'.


  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:22PM (#17883606) Homepage

    What is the purpose of being relocatable on x86? I don't remember reading anything about that so what is the point? Is that already possible on other architectures or is x86 the first (as it often is)? I realize the point of making user programs relocatable, but the kernel? The only thing I can think of is that this either has to do with paravirtualization (to speed it up when the kernel isn't at the base of address space), or for replacing the kernel on a running system (can't remember the name, but the idea would be to load the new kernel, transfer into it, then copy it down to the base of memory as you're executing).

    Can any explain this one to me?

    • by diegocgteleline.es ( 653730 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:38PM (#17883724)
      It's useful for kdump users. Kdump uses kexec to execute a new kernel in a non-standard localization of the memory. Until now kdump people used a different kernel that was compiled to be run in a different memory localization from the standard one. With this feature, you can use the same kernel to do a standard booting and a kexec boot without carring a additional kernel image around.
    • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:41PM (#17883742) Homepage

      This feature (enabled with CONFIG_RELOCATABLE) isn't very noticeable for end-users but it's quite interesting from a kernel POV. Until now, it was a requeriment that a i386 kernel was loaded at a fixed memory address in order to work, loading it in a different place wouldn't work. This feature allows to compile a kernel that can be loaded at different 4K-aligned addresses, but always below 1 GB, with no runtime overhead. Kdump users (a feature introduced in 2.6.13 that it triggers kexec in a kernel crash in order to boot a kernel that has been previously loaded at a 'empty' address, then runs that kernel, saves the memory where the crashed kernel was placed, dumps it in a file and continues booting the system) will benefit from this because until now the "rescue kernel" need to be compiled with different configuration options in order to make it bootable at a different address. With a relocatable kernel, the same kernel can be boot at different addresses.
      Mirrordot has a copy you can read. [mirrordot.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by pboyd2004 ( 860767 )
      Among the other things mentioned here. It's actually somewhat of a security thing. A lot of root kits and other exploits rely on fixed addresses so if you move the kernel or other parts of the OS around it's harder to hack.
      • by Nutria ( 679911 )
        Among the other things mentioned here. It's actually somewhat of a security thing. A lot of root kits and other exploits rely on fixed addresses so if you move the kernel or other parts of the OS around it's harder to hack.

        Well hell, why didn't they mention that on kernelnewbies? It would have perked up everyone's ears, even those of us who don't know what kexec is.

  • by mr_luc ( 413048 ) * on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:28PM (#17883658)
    In addition to relative atime, relocatable kernels, microoptimizations, lockless radix-tree readside, shared pagetables for hugetbl, the new version includes:

    Cropotactical callipygization, hoptic chamferbytes, chrome-plated floydbarbers, brillig/mimsy optimizations and full slithy tove support.
  • by derrickh ( 157646 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:39PM (#17883730) Homepage
    When Apple released its lastest OS, they talked about all the pretty colors it has, and the cool music you can listen to.

    When Microsoft released Vista, they talked about all the pretty colors it has, and the cool music you can listen to.

    The latest release of Linux is trumpeting virtualization, hypervisors, microoptimizations, and something about a lockless radix-tree.

    Nuff said.

    • by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:56PM (#17883824)
      Technically speaking, "Linux" only referes to just the kernel. So there won't be any pretty colors or music to listen to with just a kernel (unless you're on LSD).
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 04, 2007 @07:27PM (#17884030)

        there won't be any pretty colors or music to listen to with just a kernel (unless you're on LSD).

        I am on LSD, you insensitive clod! And the colors are very pretty to listen to!

        • No one is going to post this?

          "Two major products have come out of Berkeley, LSD and Unix. I don't believe this to be a coincidence."
          - Jimmy S. Anderson
      • What if you were to directly output the binary contents of the kernel to the display/sound? It might not fit everyone's definition of 'music', but I'm sure it would give some pretty colours...
        • by rbanffy ( 584143 )
          I could listen to Apple II binary tapes and distinguish between code and bitmaps from the rhythmic patterns of the sound.

          I bet my current memory dump would have some interesting musical properties, as there is so much more bitmap data in the machine.
      • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7 AT cornell DOT edu> on Sunday February 04, 2007 @10:48PM (#17885374) Homepage
        um, bootsplash? The Penguin in the upper left corner of the screen?

        Clearly, the Linux developers need to take a cue from Windows and put graphics drivers in the kernel, permitting a 3d-accelerated Tux at bootup, along with 64-voice software synthesized music. We're falling behind!
    • by Nasarius ( 593729 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @07:02PM (#17883860)
      Well, that's mostly because of the nature of the thing. Linux is just the kernel, whereas Windows and MacOS X include everything from the kernel up through the desktop and some applications. Rest assured that KDE 4, for example, will have pretty colors!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      When Apple released its lastest OS, they talked about all the pretty colors it has, and the cool music you can listen to.

      When Microsoft released Vista, they talked about all the pretty colors it has, and the cool music you can listen to.

      The latest release of Linux is trumpeting virtualization, hypervisors, microoptimizations, and something about a lockless radix-tree.

      Do you think that might be because "linux" the kernel does not even have a user interface with or without pretty colors nor a music player?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by grcumb ( 781340 )

      The latest release of Linux is trumpeting virtualization, hypervisors, microoptimizations, and something about a lockless radix-tree.

      Actually, that's a replacement for the Jell-o Tree, which had to be locked all the time to keep those darned kids out of it.

      Come on, mod me Informative. I dare you.... 8^)

    • by smash ( 1351 )
      Kernel revision != O/S release.

      Thanks for trying...

    • /. Groupthink? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NaCh0 ( 6124 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @10:39PM (#17885338)
      Weird... The other responses to your comment all take it as a knock against linux. I read your post as great insight into the reason why I use linux and not Vista or a Mac. Substance beats out fruity color schemes every day in my book.

  • by GFree ( 853379 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:40PM (#17883736)
    ... but does it run Vista?
  • by antdude ( 79039 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:45PM (#17883770) Homepage Journal
    From http://kernelnewbies.org/Linux_2_6_20 [kernelnewbies.org] (raw copy and paste -- didn't fix the formatting) since the site is getting hammered:

    Short overview (for news sites, etc)

    2.6.20 makes linux join to the virtualization trends. This release adds two virtualization implementations: A full-virtualization implementation that uses Intel/AMD hardware virtualization capabilities called KVM (http://kvm.sourceforge.net) and a paravirtualization implementation (http://lwn.net/Articles/194543) that can be used by different hypervisors (Rusty's lguest; Xen and Vmware in the future, etc),. But this release also adds initial Sony Playstation 3 support, a fault injection debugging feature (http://lwn.net/Articles/209257), UDP-lite support, better per-process IO accounting, relative atime, support for using swap files for suspend users, relocatable x86 kernel support for kdump users, small microoptimizations in x86 (sleazy FPU, regparm, support for the Processor Data Area, optimizations for the Core 2 platform), a generic HID layer, DEEPNAP power savings for PPC970, lockless radix-tree readside, shared pagetables for hugetbl, ARM support for the AT91 and iop13xx processors, full NAT for nf_conntrack and many other things.

    Important things (AKA: ''the cool stuff'')

    Sony Playstation 3 support

    You may like the Wii or the 360 more, but only the PS3 is gaining official Linux support, written by Sony engineers. Notice that the support at this time is incomplete (apparently enabling it will not boot on a stock PS3) and it doesn't support the devices included like the graphics card, etc. (commit 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

    Virtualization support through KVM

    KVM (project page) adds a driver for Intel's and AMD's hardware virtualization extensions to the x86 architecture (KVM will not work in CPUs without virtualization capabilities). See the Virtualization wiki for more information about virtualization in Linux

    The driver adds a character device (/dev/kvm) that exposes the virtualization capabilities to userspace. Using this driver, a process can run a virtual machine (a "guest") in a fully virtualized PC containing its own virtual hard disks, network adapters, and display. Each virtual machine is a process on the host; a virtual cpu is a thread in that process. kill(1), nice(1), top(1) work as expected. In effect, the driver adds a third execution mode to the existing two: we now have kernel mode, user mode, and guest mode. Guest mode has its own address space mapping guest physical memory (which is accessible to user mode by mmap()ing /dev/kvm). Guest mode has no access to any I/O devices; any such access is intercepted and directed to user mode for emulation.

    32 and 64 bits guests are supported (but not x86-64 guests on x86-32 hosts!). For i386 guests and hosts, both pae and non-pae paging modes are supported. SMP hosts and UP guests are supported, SMP guests aren't (support will be added in the future). You also can start multiple virtual machines in a host. Performance currently is non-stellar, it will be improved by a lot with the future inclusion of KVM paravirtualization KVM support.

    The Windows install currently bluescreens due to a problem with the virtual APIC, a fix is being worked on and will be added in future releases. A temporary workaround is to use an existing image or install through qemu - Windows 64-bit does not work either (commit)

    Paravirtualization support for i386

    Paravirtualization is the act of running a guest operating system, under control of a host system, where the guest has been ported to a virtual architecture which is almost like the hardware it is actually running on. This technique allows full guest systems to be run in a relatively efficient manner (continue reading this LWN article for more information). This allows to link different hypervisors (lguest/lhype/rustyvisor implements a hypervisor in 6.000 lines; Xen and Vmware will be probably ported to th
    • by JoshJ ( 1009085 )
      I was scrolling through that to get to the next message when the phrase "child reaper" caught my eye.

      I have no idea why it jumped out at me like that.
    • You may like the Wii or the 360 more
      Oh come on! I was hoping these discussions would have ended by christmas
  • by sinclair44 ( 728189 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:50PM (#17883792) Homepage
    Does anyone know if this fixes packet injection on Prism wireless adapter cards using the linux-wlan-ng driver and the aircrack-ng patch? It's been broken since 2.6.12 (but worked before that)...
  • kvm versus vmware (Score:4, Interesting)

    by digitalsushi ( 137809 ) <slashdot@digitalsushi.com> on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:54PM (#17883816) Journal
    VMWare released their server product recently, for free, and it's basically the same thing as VMWare workstation, except workstation is expensive and does slightly less. (So VMWare server is pretty sweet. Check it out if you havent heard of it. We use it to virtualize several windows XP guests on a linux host).

    I've looked at a KVM whitepaper and it doesn't look like it's quite stable yet. The paper did however mention that it's usably fast on a current processor. (Given it requires the VT extensions, it's inevitable not to have a current processor!)

    Can anyone comment on whether KVM is a reasonable alternative to the VMWare Server product?
    • Can anyone comment on whether KVM is a reasonable alternative to the VMWare Server product?

      It will be once the userspace management tools (e.g. virt-manager) catch up.
    • Re:kvm versus vmware (Score:5, Interesting)

      by arkhan_jg ( 618674 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @09:32PM (#17884934)
      Not yet. I've played with it, and it's basically an alternative to the qemu closed-source module, it's using a modified qemu userland. The advantage of using a VT/SVM capable processor with KVM means you can run an unmodified guest OS; i.e. no paravirtualised custom drivers needed.

      Its biggest weakness is speed. VMware have had years of tweaking and finetuning, while kvm is very very new, and slow in certain areas. General desktop is fine, but network speed was painfully bad - for example - when I tried version 10. Plenty of work coming down the pipe, and it looks like it could be a powerful opensource virtualisation tool - in time. Right now, it is a bit fiddly to get running, and not quite ready for a production environment.

      For now I'd stick to VMWare or virtualbox, but definitely have another look at KVM in say, 6 months time.
    • Re:kvm versus vmware (Score:5, Informative)

      by aspeer ( 131086 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @10:53PM (#17885416)
      except workstation is expensive and does slightly less

      VMWare workstation actually does more than VMWare server, which is why it is not free. You can look up the comparison table on the VMWare site, but Workstation is usually more attractive to developers because it has (amongst other things):

      • Multiple Snapshots - You can only take and rollback to one snapshot with the Server Product, Workstation allows you to go back to many different points in time.
      • Shared folders - Not available with Server. Very handy for accessing the host filesystem when the networking setup of the guest does not allow connectivity to the host (think test LAN or similar)
      The above features are "cream" on top of the core of virtualisation. If you just want to run a virtualized host, and things like snapshots or shared folders don't matter to you, use VMWare Server.

      My understanding is KVM provides the infrastructure for userland programs (such as VMWare, Xen) etc to access hardware virtualization services provided by late model Intel and AMD processors. Asking if KVM is a reasonable alternative to VMWare Server is not really a good way to frame the question - one day VMWare may use KVM for virtualisation. A better questions may be "which user-space virtualisation tool provides the best features for me as a user/developer/admin - Xen, VMWare, WidgetWorks" etc.

  • by Logi ( 2799 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @07:05PM (#17883878) Homepage
    Cool, I'm going to pick me some radices before they lock those suckers up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by heroofhyr ( 777687 )
      Even if they get locked up they shouldn't be too hard to find. The radix doesn't fall far from the tree, after all.
  • PS3 support (Score:3, Informative)

    by cxreg ( 44671 ) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @08:28PM (#17884430) Homepage Journal
    Unless things changed since the last RC, the "ps3 support" is incomplete and unusable at this point, and you still need to stick with the 2.6.16 kernel that YDL is shipping
  • by n2rjt ( 88804 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:25AM (#17886450) Journal
    As of RC3, the PS3 support doesn't include drivers for PS3-specific devices such as the Ethernet controller, and doesn't successfully boot.
    Things may have changed but I'm stucking with my hand-patched 2.6.17 with zd1211 support for usb wifi.
    I use the PS3 Linux quite a bit as a family-room computer. Sound is limited to 2-channel, but good quality. Video has no acceleration, but is still fast and looks good on our 720p TV. Unfortunately, the built-in WIFI doesn't work with Linux, and the Sony-provided kernel seems to lack any support for USB WIFI.

  • This is all good but do we still have Zombie process [wikipedia.org]?! (Something Windows doesn't have.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bob of Dole ( 453013 )
      Yes... Did you read the page you linked to?
      Zombie Processes are not a bad thing. They're not memory leaks.
      If you have a lot of zombie processes hanging around it's because of a bug in a program. It's pretty unlikely that it's a kernel bug.
  • Thats a LOT of new low level stuff to go into a supposed patch release version. It will be interesting to see how many 2.6.20.x versions there are before it all settles down. Personally I think they've put too much in but time will tell. I just hope 2.6.20 doesn't turn out to be another turkey of a version because Linux's reputation for stability and reliability has already suffered with the 2.6 series as it is.

The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side. -- James Baldwin