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Linux 3.x Matures as GNOME Fork Calls 'Grow'

  • August 9, 2011
  • By Sean Kerner

With any type of software application development there is sometimes a tendency to take a break after a major release. That's not necessarily the case on the Linux Planet, as development work is a process of continuous evolution that hardly ever slows down.

This past week new development in the Linux kernel as well as distros and desktops once again proved that the summer is not a vacation time for open source developers.

1. Linux 3.1

It seems like just yesterday we were all using a Linux 2.6.x kernel (most of us still are). Now, Linus Torvalds has announced the first release candidate for Linux 3.1. That's right, 3.1 not 3.0.1 (which is our No. 2 story for the week).

With the Linux 3.0 kernel name change comes the new numbering system. So instead of the 2.6.x.y approach where x is the major version and y is the minor update, Linux 3.0 takes a 3.x.y approach. That's one digit less, which presumably makes numbering easier. Torvalds had complained after the 2.6.39 release that the kernel numbers were getting too big after all.

So what's new in Linux 3.1?

According to Torvalds, it's 75 percent driver updates. There are also some virtualization improvements, including virtual machine writeback. As well, Torvalds noted that there are power management interface cleanups.

It's still early in the process, with at least five more release candidates to go until Linux 3.1 is done.

2. Linux 3.0.1

Linux 3.0 was released at the end of June, and now barely two weeks later we've got the first update. Quick updates for a new Linux kernel are not a new thing, although the Linux 3.x.y numbering scheme is. The minor release kernel versions are bug and security updates and don't introduce new features. In announcing the new kernel, developer Greg Kroah-Hartman simply wrote, "I'm announcing the release of the 3.0.1 kernel. All users of the 3.0 kernel series must upgrade. "

3. Linus Calls for GNOME Fork

When Linus Torvalds speaks, the Linux Planet stops to listen. In a discussion on Google Plus about how Fedora 16 will number Linux 3.0 packages, Torvalds chimed in about his thoughts on GNOME 3.

"I want my sane interfaces back. I have yet to meet anybody who likes the unholy mess that is gnome-3," Torvalds wrote.

Torvalds went on to note that he used to be upset when GNOME developers decided it was "too complicated" for the user to remap some mouse buttons.

"In gnome3, the developers have apparently decided that it's 'too complicated' to actually do real work on your desktop, and they have decided to make it really annoying to do," Torvalds said.

While debate about GNOME 3 has raged since the new desktop's inception, the comments from Torvalds are the most authoritative yet on the negative front. Torvalds isn't alone in his condemnation of GNOME 3. Red Hat kernel developer Ingo Molnar joins him him in his disdain.

Will a fork of GNOME emerge? Or will users take Torvald's route and just move to another desktop like Xfce? Only time will tell.

4. KDE 5.0

While GNOME goes through a period of intense criticism and rebuke over GNOME 3, KDE developers are now building out their next-generation interface.

KDE 5 is now in very early development. Several years back during the birth of KDE 4, KDE developers learned the same harsh lessons that GNOME developers are now learning. Those lessons will help inspire KDE 5.

"We're after evolutionary improvement and broadening our developer ecosystem, and our plans therefore need to, and in our opinion do, reflect that," KDE developer Aaron J. Seigo blogged in his announcement about KDE 5.

5. Oracle Linux 5.7

While Oracle doesn't consider Oracle Linux to be a fork of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), not everyone agrees (especially Red Hat). What is clear is that Oracle Linux is a clone (like CentOS and Scientific Linux) of RHEL.

This past week, Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) released Oracle Linux 5.7, which followed the RHEL 5.7 release by only a couple of weeks.

Oracle now tracks the RHEL release cycle faster than any otherclone, which is somewhat ironic. At the end of 2010, Red Hat made it more difficult for the clones by changing the way it handles packages. The goal from Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) was implicitly aimed at Oracle, yet the greatest impact seems to be felt by community clones like CentOS.

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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