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Linux at 25: Q&A With Linus Torvalds

The creator of the Linux open-source operating system talks about its past, present, and future. 

Linus Torvalds created the original core of the Linux operating system in 1991 as a computer science student at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Linux rapidly grew into a full-featured operating system that can now be found running smartphones, servers, and all kinds of gadgets. In this e-mail interview, Torvalds reflects on the last quarter century and what the next 25 years might bring.

Stephen Cass: You?re a much more experienced programmer now versus 25 years ago. What?s one thing you know now that you wish your younger self knew?

Read more at IEEE Spectrum
Linus Torvalds Announces First Linux Kernel 4.6 RC Build, Introduces OrangeFS

linus-torvalds-announcesNow that everyone is enjoying Linux kernel 4.5, though the reality is that we haven't seen any production operating system using it until today, the time has come for early adopters to take Linux kernel 4.6 for a test drive.

Yes, you're reading it right, the merge window for Linux kernel 4.6 is now closed, and Linus Torvalds announced just a few minutes ago (March 26) the release and immediate availability for download and testing of the first Release Candidate (RC) milestone. You might have also noticed that the Release Candidate arrived a day earlier than the expected Sunday launch, but that's only because Linus Torvalds needs to prepare for some upcoming travel, but also because the Linux kernel 4.6 merge window proves to be the biggest one in a while.

Linux Kernel 3.12.57 LTS Out Now with ALSA, EFI, and Xen Improvements, Bugfixes

linux-kernel-3-12-57On March 18, 2016, kernel developer Jiri Slaby announced the release of the fifty-seventh maintenance build of the long-term supported Linux 3.12 kernel series.

Earlier this week we announced several Linux kernel maintenance releases, including Linux kernel 4.4.6 LTS, Linux kernel 3.14.65 LTS, Linux kernel 3.10.101 LTS, Linux kernel 4.1.20 LTS, and Linux kernel 3.18.29 LTS, and today we're informing our readers about the release of Linux kernel 3.12.57 LTS.

Most of the changes are, as expected, updates to various drivers, including ATA, EFI, GPU (mostly Radeon), Ethernet, MTD, IOMMU, USB, and Xen. "I'm announcing the release of the 3.12.57 kernel. All users of the 3.12 kernel series must upgrade," said Jiri Slaby. 

Linux 4.6 Staging Has 1600+ Patches, ~400 Patches From Outreachy

Greg Kroah-Hartman on Thursday submitted his pull request of the staging area changes for targeting the Linux 4.6 kernel. Greg noted in the pull request, "Lots of little things here, over 1600 patches or so. [Notable] is all of the good Lustre work happening, those developers have finally woken up and are cleaning up their code greatly. The Outreachy intern application process is also happening, which brought in another 400 or so patches. Full details are in the very long shortlog." 

So it looks like almost a quarter of the patches are from Outreachy, the group providing paid internships for women and other "underrepresented groups in tech" to work on the Linux kernel and related open-source projects.

Read more at Phoronix
EFI Security Improvements And More For Linux 4.6

EFI-enabled systems will see some nice improvements with the upcoming Linux 4.6 kernel. 

One of the big EFI changes for Linux 4.6 that was already delayed twice before is using separate EFI page tables when executing EFI firmware code, which is done in order to isolate the EFI context from the rest of the kernel. This obviously is a big help from a security perspective. 

Read more at Phoronix
Linux 4.6 Will Improve the Security of 32-bit Programs

Besides the 4.6 scheduler updates, another interesting pull request today by Ingo Molnar are the mm updates. 

Most notable to the mm pull request is the enabling of full ASLR randomization for 32-bit programs. Yes, about Address Space Layout Randomization. If you're not familiar with it, see Wikipedia

The enabling of full randomization on i386 and x86_32 was done by Hector Marco-Gisbert. He explained in the patch: 

Read more at Phoronix
KVM Changes Ready for the Linux 4.6 Kernel

Paolo Bonzini has sent in the KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) changes for the Linux 4.6 kernel merge window, which he describes as "one of the largest releases for KVM." 

While the KVM changes for Linux 4.6 are numerous, they are mostly architecture-specific changes for this important piece of the open-source Linux virtualization puzzle. 

Read more at Phoronix
Linux 4.5 Kernel Officially Released

Linus Torvalds went ahead and released Linux 4.5 over the night.

He announced, "So this is later on a Sunday than my usual schedule, because I just couldn't make up my mind whether I should do another rc8 or not, and kept just waffling about it. In the end, I obviously decided not to, but it could have gone either way. ..."

Read more at Phoronix
Heterogeneous Memory Management Work Is Being Renewed for the Linux Kernel

Back in 2014 is when longtime open-source graphics driver developer Jerome Glisse began pushing his patches for Heterogeneous Memory Management in the Linux kernel, while that work is still ongoing but has now been renewed. 

We last heard an update on Heterogeneous Memory Management (HMM) last summer when Glisse sent out his latest patches. This big patch-set is a helper layer for a device wanting to mirror a process address space into their own MMU. HMM is designed for GPUs and others in needing to support OpenCL 2.0+ for mirroring a process address space. HMM also makes it possible for using the discrete GPU memory in a transparent manner to the application/game and other possible use-cases. 

Read more at Phoronix
Linux Kernel 4.1.19 LTS Has IPv6, IPv4, and Btrfs Fixes, Many Updated Drivers

Immediately after announcing the release of Linux kernel 3.18.28 LTS, Sasha Levin published details about the general availability of the nineteenth maintenance build of the long-term supported Linux 4.1 kernel series.

Linux kernel 4.1.19 LTS appears to be a pretty big release that changes a total of 142 files, with 2568 insertions and 1122 deletions, and according to the diff from the eighteenth maintenance build, most of the changes are networking stack (mostly for IPv6 and IPv4, but also IUCV, L2TP, SCTP, and TIPC) and drivers updates. 

All users of the Linux 4.1 LTS kernel series must upgrade.

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