Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Kernel page.
The current development kernel release is still 2.1.126. 2.1.127 prepatches are up to version 7; it's likely that the real 2.1.127 release will happen before you read this. This is a large patch, almost 1mb uncompressed. Included are lots of Sparc changes, lots of driver updates, a bunch of autofs fixes (H. Peter Anvin proclaims it "ready for 2.2"), NFS fixes, and quite a few memory management tweaks.
The memory management changes are the result of a long discussion on how to make the kernel perform better under heavy memory load. In the end, Linus found a small problem which led to many of the memory difficulties. The resulting fix, combined with some work by some of the other memory management heavies (Andrea Arcangeli, Rik van Riel, etc.) has lead to a system with much improved memory behavior.
2.1.127 will break the PCMCIA drivers, due to some variable name conflicts. Presumably a fix will be forthcoming from David Hinds. This is not the first time a kernel change has caused PCMCIA problems; to a great extent, these problems are due to PCMCIA not being part of the standard kernel. Evidently David Hinds has never submitted the PCMCIA system for inclusion.
Stable kernel 2.0.36 prepatch 16 is available, see the announcement for details. Alan is especially looking for people to test out large memory machines, TCP, and "weird CPU's".
NFS was a topic of discussion again this week. On one front, Matthias Urlichs posted some NFS performance results which were rather disappointing, especially on the read side. H. J. Lu and others continue to work with knfsd, fixing bugs as they come up. A fair amount of progress has been made with UDP-based version 2 NFS, but it's clear that Linux NFS is still not really where it needs to be. If things continue this way, 2.2 will go out with a substandard NFS implementation.
One bit of good news is that Alan Cox has started merging in an old set of NFSv3 patches, originally done by Olaf Kirch. There are a lot of reasons to do this: these patches contain some needed bug fixes, the resulting NFS server performs much better, and, of course, they result in a v3 NFS server. Alan is unsure whether these changes will go into 2.2 - it is a large set of changes for so late in the game. It would, however, be unfortunate if 2.2 went out without them. Linux will criticized harshly, with some reason, if it goes out without a reasonable NFS server.
The I2O folks have released their specifications, meaning that the I2O bus is now openly documented. See their press release for more info. The days of nondisclosure for this bus are over. Since I2O support has worried a lot of people in the Linux world for a while (even though there does not seem to be a whole lot of relevant hardware currently), this is a good development.
To get access to the specification you do have to become one of their "registered developers." To do so, head on over to this web page and sign up.
November 5, 1998