Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Kernel page.
The current development kernel release is 2.3.13, which came out on Monday. It is a very large patch with a lot of driver updates, USB changes, PPP changes, and a lot of other small tweaks.
The current stable kernel release is 2.2.11, released after a long wait. For details on what is in this release, see the 2.2.11 release notes posted by Alan Cox. With this release, the stable kernel has been completely "handed off" to Alan; Linus will be looking only at the development series.
Those of you who were watching the pre-2.2 release cycle may remember the troubles getting the ISDN subsystem up to date in the mainline kernel. Unfortunately, as we head into 2.4, it looks like it's going to happen again. Once Linus indicated that a feature freeze is happening soon, people started asking where the ISDN updates were.
Linus had never seen any ISDN updates. He sent out some very strongly worded messages about how the ISDN people go off by themselves and expect to just dump a big set of changes in at the last minute. That is not the way Linus wants to see kernel development done.
A number of possible reasons for this mode of operation were proposed, including some rather severe regulations on what can be attached to the phone system in some European countries. In some places, at least part of the ISDN implementation must go through a certification process. Some people feel that a more open development mode would make this certification harder.
Most people aren't buying that, however. One can still freeze and certify a particular release if need be. That doesn't explain why the ISDN development lists work in a closed, developers-only manner (though it has been said that non-developers can get in if they "ask nicely.") And it doesn't seem necessary for all of the code to show up in one big patch - which Linus hates - right at feature freeze time. The peer review process does not have much time in which to operate when that happens.
It may be that Linus's tirade has shaken up the ISDN team a bit this time around. The ISDN patch made it into 2.2.11, and will get into 2.4 as well, and, according to what Linus said at his keynote, the ISDN code should be updated much more frequently in the future.
Asked on the mailing list: will SGI's XFS file system get into 2.4? The answer is an easy "no way." Nobody has seen the XFS code yet; it's not even ready for pre-alpha testing, much less a stable kernel release. XFS will happen sometime next year. (More information about XFS can be found on SGI's XFS page, including the nice bit of information that it will be released under the GPL).
It seems that the FreeS/WAN IPSEC implementation has problems with large packets in the 2.2 kernels. Results can include crashed systems. While communications in this mode are probably untappable, it also makes it difficult for legitimate users to get at their data. For those who are interested, here is a long explanation of what is going on, with discussion of some approaches toward fixing the problem. It is not a simple one.
The final Fenris (Netware filesystem) release is in the works, and may be available by the time you read this note. See the announcement for details. Included are some notes on how the performance still is not what they want it to be, and some strange text on how many of the accompanying utilities will be released only if Fenris gets accepted into the core Linux tree.
Some other patches and updates released this week:
Section Editor: Jon Corbet
August 12, 1999