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Novell Eyes Linux Kernel 2.6 Suite in 2004

SUSE and Red Hat Products In the Pipeline

  • December 17, 2003
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

With its acquisition of SUSE Linux still in progress, Novell is already at work on a product suite that will support distros of both SUSE and Red Hat built on the upcoming Linux 2.6 kernel.

Novell is targeting availability of the 2.6-compliant suite for 2004, some time after delivery of its first bundle of NetWare and SUSE products earlier next year, according to Novell Security Tzar Ed Reed.

During a talk at last week's InfoSecurity show in New York City, Reed hinted strongly that he expects the much-anticipated 2.6 kernel will be ready next month. The Novell security tzar noted that the last two Linux kernels have been released during the month of January, after a final code review by Linus Torvalds during the December holidays.

Andrew Morton, the official maintainer of the 2.6 kernel, predicted in November that the 2.6 kernel would be completed in December.

During his talk in Manhattan last week, Reed explained to his audience the process of Linux kernel development, where even-numbered Linux kernel releases, such as 2.6 and 2.4, are typically ready-to-use, while odd-numbered releases such as 2.5 and 2.3 are strictly development releases.

Eyed for release in conjunction with NetWare 7, Novell's first kernel 2.6-compliant suite will support many of the enhancements available in the new kernel, but not all of them, Reed said during a follow-up interview.

SUSE's upcoming SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server) 9, originally slated for release next spring, is also targeted at the 2.6 kernel, he added. "We've said that we'll support both SUSE and Red Hat distributions of Linux and that is still the plan. Completion of Novell's SUSE acquisition is expected in January."

On the security side, Novell is working on products that will take advantage of 2.6 kernel enhancements such as Posix-style access control lists and IPSec/IPv6/in-kernel cryptography, according to Reed.

Novell will probably hold off for a while, however, on supporting the Linux Security Module (LSM), another new capability of the 2.6 kernel.

"We're still evaluating what we need. I doubt our first generation (for 2.6) will support LSM," he noted. Reed added, however, that Novell will ultimately add LSM functionality, due to the security requirements of government customers.

Reed also pointed to a number of other enhancements in the upcoming 2.6 kernel, ranging from CD burning and better sound drivers to support for Bluetooth wireless technology, graphical acceleration, new mobile devices, and the highly scalable NUMA architecture.

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