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Linux Top 3: Hello ARM, Goodbye 386

  • December 17, 2012
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

Last week was a busy one on the Linux Planet with new kernels, new distributions and a (not so) fond farewell to Linux's first architecture.

1) Linux 3.7

The Linux 3.7 kernel was formally released by Linus Torvalds last week ushering in a new era for Linux on ARM. After years of fractured development across multiple version of ARM, unified system architecture support for ARM landed in the 3.7 kernel. The 3.7 kernel also provides full support for ARM v8 which provides 64-bit capabilities.

Btrfs continues to mature in Linux 3.7 by way of a number of incremental improvements including fsync()speedups and the remove of hard link limits.

On the networking side, Linux 3.7 now support VXLAN (Virtual eXtensible LAN), which is a tenant of the Software Defined Networking (SDN) movement). VXLAN is a layer 2 overlay over a Layer 3 network. VXLAN was started as a joint effort of Cisco and VMware and is not in the process of moving through the IETF for standardization.

Also on the networking side for Linux 3.7 is TCP Fast Open for servers. TCP Fast Open is a new Google led networking approach tha delivers an optimized method for performing the initial TCP handshake in a data connection. The initial code commits for TCP Fast Open debuted on the client side in Linux 3.6 in October of this year.

2) Linux 386

The cycle of kernel development never ends. When one kernel is released that the signal for the merge window on the next kernel.

While it is still early in the merge window for the Linux 3.8 kernel, we already know off at least on thing that will not be included: support for 386.

That's right Intel's original 386 has remained supported in the bleeding edge of the mainline kernel since the day Linus started and remains so today. That won't be the case in the mainline kernel beginning with Linux 3.8 in 2013.

Linux kernel developer Ingo Molnar got Linus Torvalds to pull in the, 'x86-nuke386-for-linus' code tree on Tuesday. According to Molnar,"this tree removes ancient-386-CPUs support and thus zaps quite a bit of complexity: 24 files changed, 56 insertions(+), 425 deletions(-)... which complexity has plagued us with extra work whenever we wanted to change SMP primitives, for years."

Molnar noted however that there is a cost.

Nostlagia.

"Your old original 386 DX33 system from early 1991 won't be able to boot modern Linux kernels anymore. Sniff," Molnar wrote.

3) Slax 7

Some distributions have milestone updates somewhat less regularly than others. Case in point is the Slackware based Slax distribution.

This past week, the first major Slax update in three years was released with Slax 7.0, code name, Green Horn.

"Slax 7.0 is the major update of Slax Linux live operating system. It includes newest Linux Kernel, KDE4 desktop, GCC compiler and lots of other stuff and that all in just a ~210MB download," Slax developer Tomas Matejicek wrote in his release announcement.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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