February 17, 2019

2010 Was a Big Linux Year

Kernel, Android vs. Linux

  • December 22, 2010
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

2010 was a big year for enterprise Linux releases and the Linux kernel as the business world grows ever-more reliant on Linux.

Sean Michael Kerner


2010 was a big year for Linux, with four major kernel releases, multiple enterprise Linux updates and some large vendor shifts that will likely affect the Linux market for years to come.

The Kernel

At the core of all Linux based operating systems is the Linux kernel. During 2010, Linus Torvalds presided over the release of four major kernel updates providing new performance, filesystem, security and driver support.

The most recent kernel release is the 2.6.36 kernel which debuted at the end of October. Among the notable inclusions in the 2.6.36 kernel is the AppArmor security access control system, which is an alternative to SELinux which has been backed by Red Hat since at least 2004.

The inclusion of AppArmor in the mainline Linux kernel was achieved in part due to the leadership of developers from Canonical working on Ubuntu Linux. Pete Graner, Manager of the Ubuntu Kernel at Canonical told InternetNews.com at the time, that there had been previous attempts by Novell to get AppArmor included in the Linux kernel, though they seemed to stall for one reason or another.

"We were careful to address upstream concerns and be responsive to feedback," Graner said.

The 2.6.35 kernel debuted in August including new incoming network traffic load-spreading features designed to improve performance.The Receive Packet Steering (RPS) and Receive Flow Steering (RFS) enhancements were both contributed by search engine giant Google.

In May, the 2.6.34 kernel debuted, including a pair of new filesytems for Linux. The Ceph distributed filesystem and LogFS, a filesystem geared toward flash media devices, both debuted in 2.6.34 expanding the number filesystems included as part of the mainline Linux kernel.

The first kernel of 2010 was the 2.6.33 kernel, which was also perhaps the most contentious as well. Among the new features in 2.6.33 was the Nouveau open source graphics driver for Nvidia graphics cards.

Though new graphics hardware gained support in 2.6.33, the release was the first to drop support for Google's Android. Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman noted at the time that the Android Linux kernel drivers were no longer being maintained.

Android vs. Linux

The omission of Android from the mainline Linux kernel sparked heated debate through much of 2010. Perhaps the most heated exchanges occurred during the LinuxCon conference in Boston where the debate spanned across multiple sessions. At the core of the debate is Android's use of WakeLocks for power management usage.

During the LinuxCon conference, Google kernel developer Ted Ts'o noted that open source has always allowed for distributions to include non-mainline bits, and in his view, the WakeLocks code falls into that category.

"The problem is that Android has been successful, and that has inspired many hardware vendors to write device drivers for Android," Ts'o said at the time. "WakeLock calls in device drivers become problematic when people want to submit code upstream."

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