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Linux 3.1 Released

  • October 25, 2011
  • By Sean Kerner

Vacations, hacks and bugs aren't enough to slow down the pace of Linux development. This week, a new Linux kernel debuted, advancing the state of Linux and demonstrating to one and all that kernel development has an unstoppable momentum.

1. Linux 3.1 release

After 10 release candidates, the hack of kernel.org and a vacation for Linus Torvalds, the Linux 3.1 kernel faced more than its fair share of timing-related challenges. Yet despite those external factors, the new kernel is now available, coming just three short months after the Linux 3.0 release.

The Linux 3.1 kernel provides support for Near-Field Communications, which is an emerging technology that could help mobile transactions. There is also the inclusion of cpupowerutils, which provides insight into power management on a Linux system

"Users and Developers want to have *one* tool to get an overview of what their system supports and to monitor and debug CPU power management in detail," kernel developer Thomas Renninger wrote on the Linux Kernel Mailing List when cpupowerutils was first proposed for kernel inclusion.

The 3.1 kernel also provides support for the OpenRISC architecture, a new project that has the goal of creating an open source RISC-based platform. As is always the case with a new Linux kernel, there are many performance updates for file systems and virtualization as well as incremental driver updates.

2. Canonical Extends Ubuntu LTS

While the Linux kernel is a fast-moving entity, not all those who use Linux want to move that fast. In fact, enterprise users can be downright sluggish, keeping their technologies for (gasp) years.

That's where enterprise distributions step in, offering multiple years of support. This past week, Canonical pushed its enterprise support forward, extending the length of its Long Term Support (LTS) releases for the desktop.

Previously, Ubuntu's LTS provided three years of support on the desktop and five years on the server. The next LTS, Ubuntu 12.04, due out in 2012, changes that, with the desktop getting five years of support.

Ubuntu still trails both Red Hat and SUSE, which now offer up to 10 years of support for their enterprise Linux distributions.

3. Ubuntu Turns 7

While Red Hat and SUSE offer 10 years of support, it's important to remember the Ubuntu isn't even 10 years old yet. This past week Ubuntu celebrated the seventh anniversary of its first release, 4.10 the Warty Warthog.

"The warm-hearted Warthogs of the Warty Team are proud to present the very first release of Ubuntu!" Mark Shuttleworth wrote in his 2004 announcement release for Warty. "Ubuntu is a new Linux distribution that brings together the extraordinary breadth of Debian with a fast and easy install, regular releases (every six months), a tight selection of excellent packages installed by default and a commitment to security updates with 18 months of security and technical support for every release."

Much has changed on the Linux Planet in the past seven years, but one thing has remained constant at Ubuntu, namely the regular six-month release cycle.

4. OpenSUSE 12.1 Nears Release

OpenSUSE 12.1 is now at its first release candidate stage, previewing a near final version of SUSE's community Linux distribution. The new openSUSE release is set to include the Linux 3.1 kernel as well as GNOME 3.2. Additionally, openSUSE 12.1 is set to include Google's Go programming language. This is the first time a major Linux distribution has included that as part of the core distribution.

OpenSUSE 12.1 will also mark the debut of a new tool called 'snapper' for viewing the differences between old and new versions of files on a system. The tool is based on the btrfs system and will also enable change rollback.

General availability for openSUSE 12.1 is currently set for November 16th.

5. Android 4.0

Some people consider Android to be a Linux distribution. Whether or not that's accurate, Android relies heavily on Linux. This past week Google debuted Android 4.0, codenamed 'Ice Cream Sandwich.'

Google has committed to releasing the code as open source, which is a shift from the more close nature of Android 3.0 'Honeycomb.'

Among the big changes in Android 4.0 is direct visibility into network data usage as well as a revamped user interface.

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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