New release of Linux kernel presents major changes

Linux expert Linus Torvalds announced in his blog on Wednesday that Linux kernel version 2.6.25 has been publicly released, with changes to WiFi support, file system management, and virtualization.

"It's been long promised, but there it is now," Torvalds wrote in the official Linux kernel release.

After ten weeks in development, a couple of weeks longer than most kernel updates in the recent past, the modifications made to the latest 2.6 series include at least one million lines of code to the code base of nine million lines.

Linux Wi-Fi support began a major overhaul in kernel 2.6.24, but again was modified further for the latest 2.6.25 release, with more hardware drivers added into the kernel. Ath5k drivers, designed for chips made by Atheros, have been integrated into the new kernel release due to user request.

The Completely Fair Scheduler (CFS) received performance upgrades since it was first introduced in kernel 2.6.23 and later updated in 2.6.24. CFS is an open source project that started out as a simple rewrite to the Linux task scheduler able to increase performance even if it wasn't noticeable to end users.

Linux kernel 2.6.25 also updated the Ext4 file system, expected to take over for Ext3, this time making it possible for support for larger block sizes, from 4K to 64K. Even though the Ext4 file system has made progress, developers still have a small number of modifications to make.

The growing popularity of virtualization among Linux users has led to the KVM x86 emulator receiving an overhaul, with more documentations added to make it easier for users to use the emulator.

The official kernel changelog takes note of all the changes made between the 2.6.24 and 2.6.25 Linux kernels. The 2.6.24 update is available as a 12 MB patch, with the changelog a 7.5 MB file.

Fedora 9 was postponed by its lead developers with the Fedora Project, but the next release candidate expected to be made available next week should include the 2.6.25 kernel.

Almost 75% of current work on the Linux kernel development is done by paid developers. Red Hat, Novell, IBM, and Intel are the top four companies contributing to kernel development.

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