New Linux kernel goes faster

Linux kernel 2.6.38 has been released, bringing performance improvements

The newest update to the Linux operating-system kernel features a number of enhancements that should offer a performance boost, particularly for running databases and other programs that require maximum resources from the server.

The 2.6.38 kernel features some "really deep changes," noted Linux creator and manager Linus Torvalds in an e-mail announcing the release. This kernel has been released only 10 weeks after the previous version, 2.6.37.

Linux 2.6.38 comes with a number of significant changes that should speed performance, including the addition of new technologies such as automatic process grouping and transparent huge pages. It also includes significant improvements in the VFS (virtual file system).

With automatic process grouping, the process scheduler groups all processes with the same session ID as a single entity. A single program can spawn multiple processes on a computer, which may then take up more resources than necessary. Advocates say] that the process-grouping approach will allow programs to divide the processor time more equitably, resulting in improved performance overall.

Transparent huge pages increases the cache size for storing frequently consulted memory addresses, called pages. Traditionally, page sizes have been limited to 4KB, though modern processors support larger sizes. With larger page sizes, heavier workloads such as database work can use the cache more often, reducing their execution times.

VFS has been made more scalable. Its directory cache and path lookup mechanisms have been revamped, which should make multithreaded workloads more scalable and single-threaded workloads execute faster. Torvalds noted that of all the updates in this release, "my personal favorite remains the VFS name lookup changes."

Beyond performance enhancements, the updated kernel features a number of other new features as well.

For instance, this is the first version to support BATMAN (Better Approach To Mobile Ad-hoc Networking), an ad-hoc mesh protocol that can start relaying packets before a networking path has been fully established for the operating system. BATMAN "is useful for emergency situations like natural disasters, military conflicts or Internet censorship," the Kernel Newbies Web page explains.

The kernel also includes the usual plethora of driver updates, bug-fixes and platform-specific changes.

Maintained by an army of volunteer developers, the Linux kernel is used in a wide variety of desktop and server-based operating systems, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, as well as in mobile-device operating systems like Android.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags unixLinuxopen sourcelinux foundationsoftwareoperating systemsnon-Windows

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?