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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags open sourceLinuxoperating systemsunixsoftwarelinux foundationnon-Windows

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

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?