"It's two weeks (and one day), and the merge window is over," began Linus Torvalds, announcing the 2.6.27-rc1 kernel. He continued, "finally. I don't know why, but this one really did feel pretty dang busy. And the size of the -rc1 patch bears that out - at 12MB, it's about 50% bigger than 26-rc1 (but not that much bigger than 24/25-rc1, so it's not like it's anything unheard of)." He reflected, "the pure size of the -rc's _is_ making me a bit nervous, though. Sure, it means that we are good at merging it all, but I have to say that I sometimes wonder if we don't merge too much in one go, and even our current (fairly short) release cycle is actually too big." As for the actual changes, Linus explained:
"Much of -rc1 was in linux-next, but certainly not everything. We'll see how that whole thing ends up evolving - it certainly didn't solve all problems, and there was some bickering about things that weren't there (and some things that mostly were ;), but maybe it helped. There's a ton of new stuff in there, but at least personally the interesting things are the BKL pushdown and perhaps the introduction of the lockless get_user_pages_fast(). The build system also got updated to allow moving the architecture include files ('include/asm-xyz') into the architecture subdirectories ('arch/xyz/include/asm'), and sparc seems to have taken advantage of that already."
Other changes Linus highlighted included merging the UBI filesystem, as well as, "tracing, firmware loading, continued x86 arch merging, and moving more code to generic support (unified generic IPI handling, coherent dma memory allocation, show_mem etc). Bootmem rewrites. [And] some support for further scalability (ie 4k cpu cores)."
"So this merge window was somewhat rocky in the sense that there was a lot of arguments about it, but at the same time I at least personally think that from a technical angle, we had somewhat less scary stuff going on than has been almost the rule lately," noted Linux creator Linus Torvalds, announcing the 2.6.26-rc1 kernel. He continued:
"Lots of changes, but nothing that really feels all that fragile to me. Famous last words. I expect that the x86 PAT support (which has been long in the making) has the potential to have some issues, but the obvious problems were hashed out long ago, and while the merge window already showed one bug, that one was fairly benign and quickly fixed."
Linus highlighted, "another feature that is notable not for its size, but because people have tried to get me to merge it for some long is kgdb support. Which really turned out pretty small and clean, once people started putting their effort into making it so." He concluded, "so go out and test it. The diffstat and shortlogs are too big to post here (7500+ commits and the compressed full patch is 8.5MB in size), but one interesting tidbit I found was that during this *one* merge window, we had almost 800 different authors."
"Ok, it's a bloody large -rc (as was 24-rc1, for that matter), probably because the 2.6.24 release cycle dragged out, so people had a lot of things pending," noted Linus Torvalds, announcing the 2.6.25-rc1 kernel. He added, "the full diff is something like 11MB and 1.4M lines of diffs, with the bulk of the stuff being in architecture updates and drivers." Linus continued:
"Just to have some fun, I did trivial statistics, and of the 1.4M lines of diffs, about 38% - 530k lines - were in architecture files (400k+ lines of diffs in arch/, 100k+ lines of diffs in include/asm-*), and another big chunk is in drivers (including sound) at about 44% - 610k lines - of changes. The rest comes in much smaller, but still noticeable is networking (8% - 110k lines), with filesystems at 4%, and documentation at about 2%. The remaining crumbles being spread out mostly over block layer, crypto, kernel core, and security layer updates (ie SElinux and smack)."
Linus highlighted a few of the changes, including, "the Intel graphics driver is starting to do suspend/resume natively (ie even without X support), which is a welcome sign of the times and may help some people; lots of cleanups from the x86 merge (making more and more use of common files), but also the big page attribute stuff is in and caused a fair amount of churn, and while most of the issues should have been very obvious and all got fixed, this is definitely one of those things that we want a lot of very wide testing of to make sure nothing regressed; fair number of changes to things like the legacy IDE drivers too, and a totally new driver for the very common PCIE version of the Intel e1000 network card etc; and I've probably totally forgotten about tons of other stuff I should have mentioned, but the point is that not only do we have lots of new core, we do have a fair amout of changes to basic stuff that can actually affect perfectly bog-standard hardware setups. So give it all a good testing."
"This may count as one of the biggest -rc releases ever. It's humongous. Usually the compressed -rc1 diffs are in the 3-5MB range, with occasional smaller ones, and the occasional ones that top 6M, but this one is *eleven* megs," Linus Torvalds announced the first release candidate of the upcoming 2.6.24 kernel. He summarized some of the changes, "in short, we just had an unusually large amount of not just x86 merges, but also tons of new drivers (wireless networking stands out, but is by no means the only thing - we've got dvb, regular wired network, mmc etc all joining in), and a fair amount or architecture stuff, filesystems, networking etc too." He added:
"In other words, I don't even know where to start. The big noticeable thing is the x86 merge, and I think we all fervently hope that it won't cause any issues. So far it's been pretty smooth sailing. Knock wood. Less smooth has the scatter-gather changes to the block layer been, but they are hopefully all in reasonable shape by now too. And the VM changes? I honestly hope nobody even notices. Same goes for some of the VFS layer changes that affected basically every filesystem (although in mostly very straightforward ways)."
Jeff Garzik posted a series of nine patchs to the lkml titled to "remove [the] 'irq' argument from all irq handlers", explaining, "the overwhelming majority of drivers do not ever bother with the 'irq' argument that is passed to each driver's irq handler. Of the minority of drivers that do use the arg, the majority of those have the irq number stored in their private-info structure somewhere." He noted that he had no intention to push the patches upstream anytime soon.
Feedback was entirely positive, with Thomas Gleixner suggesting, "Full ACK. We should do this right at the edge of -rc1. And let's do this right now in .24 and not drag it out for no good reason." Ingo Molnar concurred, "full ACK on the concept from me too. Please go ahead! :)" Eric Biederman noted that there was still work to be done, "the practical question is how do we make this change without breaking the drivers that use their irq argument." Jeff agreed, explaining why the code won't be pushed upstream during -rc1, "I am finding a ton of bugs in each get_irqfunc_irq() driver, so I would rather patiently sift through them, and push fixes and cleanups upstream. Once that effort is done, everything should be in the 'trivial' pile and not have the logic that you are worried about (and thus there would be no need to add an additional branch to the irq handling path)."
"On behalf of the NetBSD Release Engineering Team, it is my pleasure to announce that the first release candidate for NetBSD 4.0 has been released," Liam Foy posted to the NetBSD -announce mailing list. The release has been a long time coming, first announced in August of 2006 by Jeff Rizzo, "NetBSD 4.0_BETA was branched on August 8, 2006 (UTC), and the beta-testing process has officially begun." Shortly after that, Charles Hannum, one of the NetBSD creators, posted an email self-described as a possible eulogy and calling into question the future of the NetBSD project. Updates regarding NetBSD 4.0 were posted in November and December of 2006 regarding delays resulting from two IRC hackathons which caused "a huge flurry of bug-fixing activity, which improved the quality of NetBSD-current a huge amount." This led to NetBSD 4.0 being rebranched from -current to preserve the large number of bug fixes that were made there.
The project's website maintains a comprehensive list of changes in NetBSD 4.0 as compared to the current stable 3.x branch. Liam continued in the release announcement, "we expect to release a second release candidate in about two weeks. Please help us test these release candidates as much as possible, to make sure NetBSD 4.0 will be a solid release.".
As expected, Linus Torvalds released the 2.6.23-rc1 kernel two weeks after the release of 2.6.22, ending the merge window, "and it has a *ton* of changes as usual for the merge window, way too much for me to be able to post even just the shortlog or diffstat on the mailing list". He noted, "I personally like how 'sendfile' is now totally gone internally, and the kernel now ends up doing all that with splice insted. Good riddance, although we'll obvously end up supporting the old user level interfaces for a long time." Linus went on to summarize the other changes:
"Lots of architecture updates (for just about all of them - x86[-64], arm, alpha, mips, ia64, powerpc, s390, sh, sparc, um..), lots of driver updates (again, all over - usb, net, dvb, ide, sata, scsi, isdn, infiniband, firewire, i2c, you name it).
"Filesystems, VM, networking, ACPI, it's all there. And virtualization all over the place (kvm, lguest, Xen).
"Notable new things might be the merge of the cfs scheduler, and the UIO driver infrastructure might interest some people."
"Ok, the merge window has closed, and 2.6.22-rc1 is out there," Linus Torvalds announced on the Linux Kernel Mailing List. He noted that there were a large number of changes, "almost seven thousand files changed, and that's not double-counting the files that got moved around." As to what was changed, Linus summarized, "architecture updates, drivers, filesystems, networking, security, build scripts, reorganizations, cleanups.. You name it, it's there." He went on to add:
"You want a new firewire stack? We've got it. New wireless networking infrastructure? Check. New infiniband drivers? Digital video drivers? A totally new CPU architecture (blackfin)? Check, check, check.
"That said, I think (and certainly hope) that this will not be nearly as painful as the big fundamental timer changes for 2.6.21, and while there are some pretty core changes there (like the new SLUB allocator, which hopefully will end up replacing both SLAB and SLOB), it feels pretty solid, and not as scary as ripping the carpet from under the timer infrastructure."
Adrian Bunk posted a couple lists of known regressions that found their way into the 2.6.21-rc1 kernel [story] since the release of the 2.6.20 kernel [story]. Adrian notes that his lists only include bugs that are not yet fixed in Linus' -git tree. In an updated version of his lists he included 19 known regressions, including links to bugzilla or the appropriate mailing list discussion thread. The lists track who submitted the bug, who is currently handling it, who caused it if known, a link to a patch that fixes the problem if any, and the current status.
Linus Torvalds announced the first release candidate for the upcoming 2.6.21 kernel, ending the two-week merge window [story], "there's a lot of changes, as is usual for an -rc1 thing, but at least so far it would seem that 2.6.20 has been a good base, and I don't think we have anything *really* scary here." Linus noted that the tickless kernel patch [story] was finally merged into the mainline kernel, "the most interesting core change may be the dyntick/nohz one, where timer ticks will only happen when needed. It's been brewing for a _loong_ time, but it's in the standard kernel now as an option." Thomas Gleixner explained a year ago how this could result in cooler CPUs and power savings, "the tickless kernel feature (CONFIG_NO_HZ) enables 'on-demand' timer interrupts: if there is no timer to be expired for say 1.5 seconds when the system goes idle, then the system will stay totally idle for 1.5 seconds."
As for the rest of the changes, Linus added, "there's a ton of architecture updates (arm, mips, powerpc, x86, you name it), ACPI updates, and lots of driver work. And just a lot of cleanups." Release candidate kernels can be downloaded from your nearest kernel.org mirror. You can browse through all the changes using the gitweb interface. Kernel Newbiews maintains a useful summary of all the changes going into the latest version of the Linux kernel.
With the release of the 2.6.19-rc1-mm1 kernel, the ext4 filesystem [story] was merged into Andrew Morton [interview]'s -mm tree for further testing. In the announcement Andrew notes that the new filesystem is compatible with ext3 until you add a file that has extents. He also notes, "when comparing performance with other filesystems, remember that ext3/4 by default offers higher data integrity guarantees than most. So when comparing with a metadata-only journalling filesystem, use `mount -o data=writeback'. (Although this doesn't seem to make much difference with ext3)" The goal is to stabilize the new filesystem within the next six to nine months, and ultimately to replace the ext3 filesystem.
Linux creator Linus Torvalds announced the first release candidate for the upcoming 2.6.18 kernel, "the merge window for 2.6.18 is closed, and -rc1 is out there". He noted that the changes are extensive, "the changes are too big for the mailing list, even just the shortlog. As usual, lots of stuff happened. Most architectures got updated, ACPI updates, networking, SCSI and sound, IDE, infiniband, input, DVB etc etc etc." Find the shortlog here. Linus went on described additional changes:
"There's also a fair amount of basic infrastructure updates here, with things like the generic IRQ layer, the lockdep (oh, and priority-inheritance mutex support) stuff by Ingo &co, some generic timekeeping infrastructure ('clocksource') stuff, memory hotplug (and page migration) support, etc etc."
With the release of Linux kernel 2.6.9-rc1, Linus Torvalds further refined the new kernel development model [story] first proposed at the 2004 kernel summit [story]. The earlier 2.6.8 kernel was quickly followed by 220.127.116.11 [story] to address an oops in NFS. With today's 2.6.9-rc1 Linus explained, "administrative trivia, and one thing I agonized over: should I make the patches relative to 2.6.8 or 18.104.22.168? I decided that since there is nothing that says that 'basic bug-fix' releases for a previous release might not happen _after_ we've done a -rc release for the next version, I can't sanely do patches against a bugfix release."
With Linus having returned from a week-long vacation, he noted that there were "tons of patches merged", specially thanking Andrew Morton [interview] "who synced up 200+ patches". Regarding the specific changes in this release candidate, Linus said they are "all over: arm, ppc, sparc, acpi, i2c, usb, fbcon, ntfs, xfs, nfs, cpufreq, agp, sata, network drivers - you name it. Most of the changes are fairly small, but there's a lot of them."