Summit To Focus On Next Linux Kernel

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With the Linux kernel 2.6 reaching production phase, technical priorities for the next Linux kernel will be the topic of discussion next week at a summit in Ottawa.

Linux creator Linus Torvalds, in an interview with CRN at CA World in Las Vegas, said the focus of the invitation-only Linux kernel summit will be to set priorities for Linux kernel 2.7, the next development product. Although there are no firm plans, Torvalds said one firm topic of discussion will be the cluster file system.

In many ways, the summit will act as a starting point of the dialogue, and Torvalds, who joined the Open Source Development Lab as a fellow last month, said he expects technical priorities to emerge as developers work with the "stable" Linux kernel 2.6 over the next six months.

"I don't have any personal things I want to push onto [Linux kernel] 2.7, so I'm fine with that," he said. "That's why we have events like the kernel summit. They start griping to me about things that they feel were left out, and I know some of the things they feel were left out."

Jon "Maddog" Hall, president and executive director of industry group Linux International, who also attended CA World, said one of the most profound changes to the Linux kernel 2.6 involves a total reorganization of device drivers. Redundant functionality in many cases was removed, helping reduce the size of the kernel and making it easier to maintain.

Other focuses for the Linux kernel 2.6 distribution are a new scheduler for improving the stability and transaction-processing capabilities of Linux, features that are considered key for the software's credibility in enterprise and commercial accounts.

Although Linux desktop development will not be a specific topic of conversation at the summit next week, Torvalds said that there are "more issues on the desktop that are kernel-related than off in the server space."

One obvious example involves device drivers, since thousands of devices need to be accommodated, he said. "So the desktop tends to be a lot more interesting from the kernel perspective," he said.

The thing that really will make the Linux desktop attractive is third-party application development work, Torvalds added.

"I think the real attraction is going to end up being all the programs outside the kernel. I've said for the last five years that, hey, the kernel isn't the most important part," he said. "The most important part is things like Mozilla, Open Office--all of which depend on the kernel, but they depend on the kernel in the sense that they don't want to care. To them, the kernel hides all the ugly hardware details. They want to have the infrastructure, but they don't want to have to really worry about it."

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