Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Kernel page.
The current development kernel release is 2.3.99-pre3. This patch is made up mostly of a lot of little fixes. There is also a new "hotplug" master configuration option (which controls PCMCIA and other such technologies), 3Dfx Banshee/Voodoo3 frame buffer support, nVidia Riva framebuffer support, a master configuration option for WAN devices, a USB Mustek MDC800 digital camera driver, Sun 3x support, an IEEE-1394 update, a PCMCIA Xircom Tulip ethernet driver, IDE layer tweaks, an ISDN update, ATM networking tweaks, and a partial merge of NFSv3 client support.
We mentioned last week the new sequence of "pre" pre-patches. The first 2.3.99pre-4 prepatch contains a number of architecture-specific updates, a new CPiA video camera driver (which relocates and adds to the existing USB support for this device), many changes to the eepro100 ethernet driver, a number of USB serial changes, a StrongARM 1100 LCD frame buffer driver, NFS updates, and some networking fixes.
Alan posted an updated version of his 2.3.x job list.
The current stable kernel release is still 2.2.14. The latest prepatch, 2.2.15pre16, includes two security fixes, for the exec and ELF loader problems and for the "ftp back masquerade" vulnerability. Another prepatch will be released if a fix for a recently announced UDP masquerading bug comes out quickly enough.
POSIX threads. The issue of support in the Linux kernel for POSIX threads came up again this week. Many people who are looking for a clean, cross-platform implementation of threads get frustrated that they are not fully supported by the Linux kernel. The final answer is that they won't be implemented. The concensus among the primary kernel developers appears to be that doing a POSIX threads implementation is impossible to do both correctly and efficiently. Here's a sample of some of the opinions:
"posix threads is a braindamaged pile of crap".
"although a lot of the POSIX threads are reasonable, things like requiring uid/gid updates to be instantly effective across all threads in the process are just insane".
"Note that the reason the kernel is not POSIX-compliant is:For those people in a pickle as to what to do as a result, Linus suggested they take a look at the netscape/mozilla threading library.
Local Denial of Service against the Linux kernel. Jay Fenlason posted a note to Bugtraq covering a local denial-of-service attack that impacted both the 2.2.14 and the 2.3.99-pre2 kernels. Alexey Kuznetsov responded with a patch for 2.3for the problem.
Support for large disks (>32GB). A discussion was initiated by David Elliott this week on how to support disks larger than 32GB on systems with older BIOS. It provided an interesting example of the complexity introduced into an operating system in order to handle essentially broken hardware. H. Peter Anvin commented, "Remember... most hardware/firmware is broken. Part of what makes a good OS is to work with broken hardware without sacrificing working with properly working hardware." In the end, Andre Hedrick outlined his preferred solutions for the problem, to which most people seemed to agree.
kswapd fix. Russell King reported a problem with kswapd where it looped unnecessarily, chewing up unneeded CPU cycles. Rik Van Riel took Russell's first effort at a patch and cleaned it up for inclusion in an upcoming 2.3.x prepatch.
Timpanogas NetWare filesystem releases. The Timpanogas Research Group has announced the release of its NWFS 2.2 NetWare file system. NWFS is released under the GPL. They have also announced the forthcoming release of the M2CS clustered storage system and M2FS distributed filesystem.
The endless overcommit thread .... The endless linux-kernel thread discussing overcommit lived up to its name this week. We won't touch upon the issues again, continuing to redirect you to the March 9 discussion of this, since nothing new and wonderful has been added to the discussion since. However, we couldn't resist a pointer to this note from Richard Johnson on the topic, if only for the amusement value.
Other patches and updates released this week include:
Section Editor: Jonathan Corbet
March 30, 2000