Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Kernel page.
The current development kernel release is 2.4.0-test1, and will remain so for at least a couple more weeks. Meanwhile, Real Developers are running 2.4.0-test1-ac10, a large patch with over 200 listed updates. The changes are almost entirely bug fixes, but there is a new Microtek USB scanner driver in there as well. Recent "ac" releases have been more "development" than some; a lot of the problems have been ironed out, but the aic7xxx SCSI driver is still not working.
The current stable kernel release is 2.2.16. The 2.2.16 release came out just before LWN went to "press," and no release notes are yet available. What we do have, however, is a list of 2.2.16 security fixes that most people running 2.2 kernels should probably read (and then consider upgrading). Meanwhile, for a more complete list, the notes from the last prepatch release (2.2.16pre8), cover most of the patches that have been included.
Wishlist for 2.5. A common exercise somewhere around this stage of the kernel development cycle is the compilation of a wishlist for the next development stage. After all, when there is a code freeze in effect and new goodies can't be added, it's nice to at least be able to think about the things that could be done. This time around, Kenneth Arnold has been putting together a a 2.5 wishlist with input from a number of people.
This list includes some fairly high-profile things, such as merging the various journaling filesystems (see below). Some items are quite general, such as "documentation;" others are rather more specific ("Enable writes to concurrent devices in single commit_write()"). Merging of crypto code is on a lot of people's lists as well.
Of course, all this stuff will remain just a wishlist for quite some time. Linus typically doesn't start a new development series until the stable kernel has truly stabilized for a while. If 2.4.0 really comes out in August, say, then 2.5.0 isn't likely until almost the end of the year.
ReiserFS and the 2.4 kernel. ReiserFS is an alternative filesystem which has been under development by Hans Reiser and company for some time; it was covered in this space back in November. This filesystem has a number of things going for it, including better performance numbers in some situations, and the fact that it has a working journaling implementation. ReiserFS has been widely tested, and even incorporated by a few distributions (such as SuSE), but has still been considered experimental to this point.
That is, until last week, when Mr. Reiser posted a note saying that ReiserFS had stabilized and was ready for inclusion into the 2.3 development series. Unfortunately for the ReiserFS folks, Linus, who had perhaps sensed the fight that was to come, had skipped out of town for three weeks. In Linus's absence, decisions about what goes into the "ac" series are being made by Alan Cox.
Alan has declined to include ReiserFS, for reasons that we will get to shortly. But it is interesting to look at Hans Reiser's reaction to this decision; he did not, shall we say, take it well. In fact, Alan's concerns were characterized as "just a RedHat bureaucratic excuse to delay reiserfs." Those are fighting words, and, to those who have seen Alan's nonstop efforts to produce the best possible system, completely unwarranted.
This is very likely not the last time that we will see this sort of allegation raised. Quite a few kernel developers are employed by various Linux distributors; people may well see conflicts of interest even if none really exist. In the future, if Linus decides he's had enough and goes off to sell Amway products, his replacement may will find himself having to shed any ties to Linux companies before being accepted by the community as a whole.
But back to ReiserFS. What are the real reasons that ReiserFS is not going into the 2.4.0-test1 series at this time? They are:
There is no telling what Linus will decide at this point. He has hinted in the past that ReiserFS might get in. And ReiserFS does have happy users; see, for example, this posting from Drew Streib at VA Linux Systems. It seems that ReiserFS is used for half of the SourceForge archive, and for the Mozilla CVS server as well. And it works well.
If the 2.4 kernel is going to have a journaling filesystem, it will have to be ReiserFS - none of the others are ready. Given its track record, it should be considered seriously for inclusion. The 2.5 development series is the earliest possible time to create a common journaling layer; in the meantime people could be using a journaling system that works.
Other patches and updates released this week include:
Section Editor: Jonathan Corbet
June 8, 2000