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Linux Embraces Android (Again)

  • March 20, 2012
  • By Sean Kerner

Linux is defined by one core element that all Linux distributions must have -- a Linux kernel. This past week saw the release of two Linux kernels, one from Linus Torvalds, the other from Oracle.

1. Linux 3.3

The Linux 3.3 kernel is the second mainline Linux kernel released so far in 2012, following the Linux 3.2 kernelthat came out in January.

The Linux 3.3 kernel is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the simple fact that it is the first kernel in two years to include Google Android drivers. That's right, after two long years, Android is back.

Android was dropped in the 2.6.33 kernel of February 2010 due to issues about the code being maintained. Those issues ballooned into arguments about Wakelocks and other Android constructs that varied from the Linux mainline. Back in 2010, many people speculated that Android would eventually be back in Linux for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that it's actually easier to keep code inside of Linux than outside of it. It's a lesson Google apparently has now finally come to terms with.

Looking beyond Android, the Open vSwitch virtual network switch technology brings something new to Linux. Now Linux will have the built-in ability to handle virtual switching needs, whether as part of a cloud construct or some kind of Software Defined Network topology.

2. Oracle Unbreakable Linux Kernel 2.0

The Linux maineline kernel is the basis from which all Linux distributions draw, although it's often not the kernel used in all distributions. Red Hat, for example, builds its own kernel based on the mainline. For the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) releases, Red Hat backports features from the mainline into its 2.6.x kernel series.

Oracle bases its Enterprise Linux on RHEL, although Oracle has its own ideas when it comes to the kernel. That's where the Oracle Unbreakable Linux kernel comes into play, as an alternative Oracle built kernel. The Oracle kernel is based on the newer 3.x series, and according to Oracle, it provides better performance, at least when it comes to Oracle workloads.

3. Ubuntu More Popular then Red Hat?

Oracle isn't the only vendor gunning for Red Hat. Ubuntu Linux is also going after Red Hat's share, and according to Mark Shuttleworth it's a battle the company is winning.

"The key driver of this has been that we added quality as a top-level goal across the teams that build Ubuntu -- both Canonical's and the community's," Shuttleworth blogged. "We also have retained the focus on keeping the up-to-date tools available on Ubuntu for developers, and on delivering a great experience in the cloud, where computing is headed."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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