Linux kernel 2.6.12 with trusted computing support released

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Osiris

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Linux kernel 2.6.12 with trusted computing support released
Linus Torvalds has released the latest major revision of Linux, kernel 2.6.12, for downloading. On the release of rc2 at the beginning of April, programmers were already called on to concentrate on correcting errors in their development work so that the new Linux version could be released soon. The disputes about the retirement of the source code administration Bitkeeper and the launch of git caused some delay. In a stable kernel series running in parallel and based on kernel 2.6.11 and using a new numbering scheme, the most important errors in the previous kernel version have been remedied.

Since the presentation of 2.6.11, development has taken more than three months. You can spend an entire rainy day just reading the 1MB change log, while the patch itself is a whopping 24 MB uncompressed. The changes made basically concern all of the kernel's subsystems. A TPM driver has been added (source code) for chips from National Semiconductor and Atmel – they are found, for example, in some of IBM's Thinkpad models. The Userspace software is being developed in the Trousers Project at Sourceforge. In their FAQs, the programmers describe how a TPM can be used on Linux. The administrator of the TPM driver is an IBM employee.

The driver for Philips USB Webcams removed last year has been readded. Just before the new kernel was completed, however, Alan Cox once again removed some parts of the driver due to unclear legal issues. Furthermore, a multitude of the drivers provided with the kernel were updated – there were major revisions, for instance, of the drivers for DVB, USB, networks, and soundchips. For instance, the kernel now finally contains sound drivers for Intel's i915 and i925 chip set series. The SATA drivers now also support write barriers so that the journal information in journaling file systems really lands on the hard drive before other data are written. The CIFS, JFS, and XFS file systems were all modified. In addition, there is expanded support for the dual-core CPUs of AMD and Intel as well as some updates for many of the other processor architectures in the new version.

Some of the most important innovations: [IPv6] is no longer marked as experimental, and SELinux and Software Suspend have been improved. The device mapper now supports Multipath and can deal with Linux using the SuperHyway Bus. It is now harder for trojans and viruses to guess addresses in the random access memory thanks to address space randomization. In addition, the SATA ports of some new ATI/ULi chip sets are also supported. The new driver bnx2 provides support for all PCIe network chips from Broadcom. A few drivers have even been adapted for Intel's South Bridge ESB2, which has not even been presented yet.

We will have to wait and see what the next kernel version contains. Andrew Morton's development kernel contains a number of extensions that are to be included in the standard kernel sooner or later. Reiser4 has been waiting for the transition for a long time, and after a slew of discussions at the presentation of Reiser4, both criticism and the developers of the file system are now rarely found on the kernel's mailing list. The file system in Userspace (FUSE) in Morton's kernel is also waiting on integration in the official kernel – some of the inconsistencies that kernel developers criticized have since been remedied. The virtualization solution Xen should also appear soon in the development kernel. Distributions such as SuSE and Fedora have already integrated them.
 
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