October 25, 2016

Torvalds Says Hello to Linux 4.3 RC1 and Goodbye to EXT3

  • September 13, 2015
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

Linus Torvalds released the first release candidate for Linux 4.3 on September 12, ushering a new era for Linux. While there are lots of new things, as there always are in every Linux kernel, Linux 4.3 is noteworthy specifically for what it is removing. The EXT3 filesystem is being removed from Linux.

No that's not a typo. EXT3, the filesystem that most of us have used as default for a decade is going away. But it doesn't mean that EXT3 based systems will no longer be supported in Linux.

"On the filesystem side, the bulk of the changes (in lines of code) is the removal of the ext3 filesystem (with ext4 remaining to support ext3 layouts - but the separate ext3 codebase is gone)," Torvalds wrote in his Linux 4.3 RC1 LMKL message.

EXT3 entered the mainline Linux in the 2.4.15, back in 2001 as the successor to EXT2. For seven years, EXT3 largely was the default Linux filesystem for many mainstream distributions.

EXT4, the successor to EXT3 was merged into the mainline Linux kernel over multiple release, with stability achieved with the 2.6.28 kernel which was released in December 2008.

As such, it has been six and a half years since EXT3 was superceded in the Linux kernel with EXT4, though support and code has remained in place all this time.

Now it's finally time for EXT3 code to go, but just as was the case with EXT2 before it, those that still run EXT3 or rely on its data structures will be supported with the the successive release (in this case EXT4).

For those distributions and users that have specific demands and needs for EXT3 not addressed in EXT4, the simple truth is also that EXT3 is still in older Linux kernel that are marked as Long Term Support by multiple vendors and maintainers.

Overall the first Linux 4.3 release candidate, beyond the EXT3 change seems to Torvalds to be an average release in terms of composition.

"I had expected 4.3 to be somewhat smaller after that pretty big 4.2, but it's not particularly small - pretty average in size, in fact," Torvalds wrote. "Everything looks fairly normal, in fact, with about 70% of the changes being drivers, 10% architecture updates, and the remaining 20% are spread out (filesystems, networking, tooling, documentation, mm and "core" kernel updates etc)."

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

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