October 27, 2016

Linux 4.0: Hurr durr I'ma sheep

  • April 13, 2015
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

After seven release candidates, the Linux 4.0 kernel is now generally available. Linux 4.0 began its merge window life as Linux 3.20 but got renamed after Linus got community input about his 'the numbers are too big' concern.

Officially the name for the new Linux kernel is - Hurr durr I'ma sheep. No that's not a joke that's what Torvalds has in Git.

Overall Torvalds said that Linux 4.0 is a pretty small release though itstill had over 10,000 non-merge commits.

"But we've definitely had bigger releases (and judging by linux-next v4.1 is going to be one of the bigger ones)," Torvalds said.

Prior to the Linux 2.6 kernel, Linux development worked on a feature based release cycle. That changed with Linux 2.6 to the time-based approach back in December of 2003. The model has evolved a bit over the last 12 years, with a more aggressive time and merge window cycle that now sees new Linux kernels ever six to 10 weeks.

"I'm personally so much happier with time-based releases than the bad old days when we had feature-based releases," Torvalds said.

The first Linux 2.6 kernel was developed using the bitkeeper (BK) source code management tool, but for the last 10 years, ever since the Linux 2.6.12 release in June of 2005 Linux developers have been using Git.

"During all of the BK years we only got 65k commits," Torvalds wrote. "Of course, we only used BK for three years, and we've now been on git for almost exactly ten years, but still - it shows how the whole development process has really sped up a _lot_."

Overall, in terms of new features, the big ticket item in Linux 4.0 is the new live kernel patching capability, though, Torvalds doesn't see that as being a big issue.

"Much have been made of the new kernel patching infrastructure, but realistically, that not only wasn't the reason for the version number change, we've had much bigger changes in other versions," Torvalds wrote. "So this is very much a "solid code progress" release."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at LinuxPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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