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Linux 2.6.34 Kernel Debuts With New Filesystems

New Big-Job Kernel Features

  • May 17, 2010
  • By Sean Michael Kerner
Sean Michael Kerner

The Linux 2.6.34 kernel is now available, delivering new filesystems to the open source operating system.

Among the big new items included in the 2.6.34 release is the Ceph distributed filesystem and LogFS, a filesystem geared toward flash media devices. The update comes as the second major Linux kernel development of 2010 and follows the Linux 2.6.33 kernel release by just under three months.

"Generally what I'm excited about is the whole improvement in things that we see in the filesystem area," Markus Rex, director of open platform solutions at Novell, told InternetNews.com. "I think when I look at the proliferation of storage and the sheer volume of terabytes that people have at their disposal, filesystem technology in Linux is on a very good track toward leveraging the space and capabilities of new storage technologies."

The Ceph project describes Ceph as a distributed file system capable of managing many petabytes of storage with ease. At the heart of Ceph is its Object Storage Device (OSD) system, which distributes data across multiple storage nodes.

"If any OSD fails, data is automatically re-replicated to other devices," the Ceph project sites states. "However, unlike typical RAID systems, the replicas for data on each disk are spread out among a large number of other disks, and when a disk fails, the replacement replicas are also distributed across many disks. This allows recovery to proceed in parallel."

Ceph joins a number of other distributed filesystems already in the Linux kernel including the Oracle Cluster Filesystem, or OCFS, which debuted in the 2.6.16 Linux kernel and Red Hat's GFS (Global Filesystem).

While Ceph is now officially in the Linux kernel, it may well be a bit too soon to say precisely how it will be implemented by major Linux distributions like Red Hat.

"Cloud storage options continue to be highly active and evolving -- a clear winner has not yet emerged," Tim Burke, vice president of platform engineering at Red Hat, told InternetNews.com. "For this reason, Red Hat continues to be involved in a variety of initiatives. It's still too early to tell how prominent a role Ceph will play."

The other new filesystem being added in the Linux 2.6.34 release is LogFS. With LogFS, solid state drives (SSD) and other flash memory-based devices get a new filesystem option in Linux. The LogFS project site defines the technology as a scalable flash filesystem with a focus on large devices.

Virtualization enhancement in Linux

There are also improvements to the KVM virtualization hypervisor in the 2.6.34 kernel, courtesy of the new vhost-net technology. Vhost-net is intended to reduce virtualization overhead where possible. The move to improving virtualization performance is a key goal for Red Hat as part of its upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 release, according to Burke.

He said that I/O-intensive workloads present the greatest challenge to Linux, which is why performance improvements to I/O in virtualization have been made over the course of several kernel releases.

"These recent virtio-net enhancements provide network interfaces which are much more efficient for the virt guest / host interface," Burke said. "The primary objective is to substantially reduce the number of system calls required. We have aggressively worked this feature upstream with objective of incorporation into upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux product releases."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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