back to article Incoming! Linux 4.1 kernel lands

The 4.1 release of the Linux kernel has hit, after what Linus Torvalds says was a “very quiet week” since Release Candidate 8 dropped. Torvalds' brief announcement on the Linux Kernel mailing list also notes that “this obviously means that the merge window for 4.2 is open”. Since the last release candidate, Torvalds notes, …

  1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    WTF...

    ...is all that crud doing in a bloody kernel?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF...

      This is Linux!

      What did you expect? A lean and optimized Windows-like minimalist kernel...?

      1. gerdesj Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: WTF...

        I'll take your comment at face value: sarcastic.

        Mind you, why AC? Do you really care about your UVs and DVs that much?

    2. gerdesj Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: WTF...

      WTF are you on about? This isn't the GNU/Mach micro kernel thingie, it's Linux. Rather than typing any old bollocks, what actually offends you within that list of updates?

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: WTF...

        I can understand why a graphics driver would be included in a monolithic kernel if performance were a major consideration, but a *gamepad* driver? Seriously?

        Linux-based OSes are still primarily used in embedded, mobile, and server environments, where I'd argue security is far more important than a slight increase in frames per second while playing Tux Racer.

        Apple's OS X uses a hybrid Mach/monolithic architecture that means only those drivers that *need* to run in kernel space do so, while other drivers are kept the hell out of there. I'd argue that this is a better model than an all-eggs-in-one-basket approach.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: WTF...

          Linux-based OSes are still primarily used in embedded, mobile, and server environments, where I'd argue security is far more important than a slight increase in frames per second while playing Tux Racer.

          Apple's OS X uses a hybrid Mach/monolithic architecture that means only those drivers that *need* to run in kernel space do so, while other drivers are kept the hell out of there. I'd argue that this is a better model than an all-eggs-in-one-basket approach.

          You clearly didn't read my post when I said: "device drivers are loaded only if the corresponding device is detected"

          RC=0 stuartl@vk4msl-mb ~ $ find /lib/modules/`uname -r` -type f -name \*.ko | wc -l

          1205

          RC=0 stuartl@vk4msl-mb ~ $ sudo lsmod | wc -l

          Password:

          29

          RC=0 stuartl@vk4msl-mb ~ $

          See, not all the kernel drivers are loaded, they're simply at rest on the disk. Unless you're trying to cram everything into a 2GB HDD as one person has mentioned (or perhaps more likely, a MicroSD card), the overhead is not significant compared to the storage capacity of typical hard drives.

          Moreover, if you know what ones to remove, you're quite at liberty to delete the ones that aren't being loaded. Move them to a temporary directory, do a few reboots and other tests to be certain, then nuke the temporary directory.

          1. jake Silver badge

            @ Stuart Longland (was: Re: WTF...)

            "See, not all the kernel drivers are loaded,"

            Why are you checking to see if those drivers (for hardware that you aren't running) need to be loaded in the first place?

            Do I have eggs? No, you have no chickens. Do I have eggs? No, you have no chickens. Do I have eggs? No, you have no chickens. Do I have eggs? No, you have no chickens. Etc.

            Checking for non-CPU specific hardware in the kernel is counter-productive.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @ Stuart Longland (was: WTF...)

              But you don't know that for certain.

              Do I have eggs?

              - Yes, you have a female duck.

              Do I have eggs?

              - Yes, you have a female platypus.

              Do I have eggs?

              - Yes, you have a female reptile.

              Do I have eggs?

              - Yes, they are in the refrigerator.

              Just because you have no chickens doesn't mean you don't have eggs. Similarly, just because you network software doesn't mean you have a working network adapter for it to employ, and things can get messy if you don't.

              Checking for devices at boot time (particularly important stuff like user I/O, video, and networking is pretty much the ONLY way you can do it since a lot of software that starts up afterward is going to be looking for it, and many setups are pretty shoddy about dynamic hardware since Linux was originally built around static hardware annunciation (with embedded devices you can tailor your kernels to not require this because you know exactly what and where is everything, but you can't do that with a PC whose hardware can change between boots).

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: WTF...

      Fanbois want it. Part of Cupertino's "ease of use" myth, which sadly has propagated to the kiddies using Linux (and most of the rest of TheGreatUnwashed, for that matter).

      If you compile your own kernel instead of using a stock shovelware distro, you won't see the lard/slowdown/waste of space in day to day use.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WTF...

        If you compile your own kernel instead of using a stock shovelware distro, you won't see the lard/slowdown/waste of space in day to day use.

        Unless your root filesystem is on a very small device you won't anyway since the device drivers are loaded only if the corresponding device is detected.

        So no slowdown, and minimal lard.

        e.g. one of my own kernels with the fat trimmed,

        $ du -hs /lib/modules/4.0.2-rikishi/

        67M /lib/modules/4.0.2-rikishi/

        vs for a standard Debian kernel:

        $ du -hs /lib/modules/`uname -r`

        121M /lib/modules/3.16.0-4-686-pae

        Yes, 50% difference, but when even SD cards are in the multi-gigabyte range, neither seems particularly huge.

        1. tufty

          Re: WTF...

          121M kernel? OMG, good thing all that "lard" will fit on my 6TB hard drive. For a second there I thought you were worried about chewing up all the space on a 2GB IDE hard drive...

    4. thames

      Re: WTF...

      It's mostly drivers for talking to hardware. The main job of an OS kernel is to interface with the hardware. What were you expecting to find?

      The OS starts up, probes for hardware, and loads the drivers for the hardware that it finds. If you're running a PC, you get all the drivers for PC hardware with the distro so that you don't have to go hunting around the interwebs for drivers. You've already got them. This is why installing Linux is so easy. If you have a phone, then the phone vendor already knows what hardware you have and just gives you the drivers you need for it.

      The drivers are organized into loadable modules which get loaded into memory on demand. The individual drivers themselves are in most cases quite small because since they are open source there's no need to duplicate boilerplate code for each one. Related drivers can all share the same framework code. There's also no need for duplicating drivers for different hardware vendors if they're actually just different brand names on boards carrying the same chip set.

      So when they say "Realtek 8723A, 8723B, 8751A and 8821 WiFi is also supported in the new kernel", they're just saying that there are now updated drivers which support those chips. Hardware vendors figure prominently in the lists of Linux kernel developers.

      In addition to drivers, there is often interface code to other independent sub-systems. So while some low level whatzit may not be part of the kernel, it may need special support from the kernel to do its job.

      1. frank ly

        @thames Re: WTF...

        "If you have a phone, then the phone vendor already knows what hardware you have and just gives you the drivers you need for it."

        I assume you mean, "If you have a phone, then the phone vendor knows how it works and has already written a driver and donated it to the Linux OS, which then makes the driver available for your installation to use."

        Your original statement is a bit worrying (maybe it's just me).

        1. foxyshadis

          Re: @thames WTF...

          Orange and Verizon don't write many Qualcomm drivers, as far as I know, and even Motorola and Samsung try to stay away from that (except for the parts they fab). Vendors just package up what the manufacturers hand them, and manufacturers mostly just hand over what the component makers have available. The final vendor-provided OS is lean and only has the drivers for hardware present in the model line, except in rare occasions.

          Sometimes the drivers have been donated and integrated, sometimes they're private, doesn't make a real difference to the end user where it's all magic.

        2. thames

          Re: @thames WTF...

          @frank ly - As foxyshadis said, the chip vendors write the drivers, and the phone manufacturers get the drivers from the chip vendors and load the appropriate ones onto the phone. The source code may go upstream to the "Linus" (Torrvalds) kernel directly from the chip vendor, or it may go via the phone vendor, or some third party may pick it up and merge it.

          The PC and server industry tends to be more organized and operates on longer time scales than the mobile phone handset business, and so drivers tend to flow into the "Linus" kernel on a more organised basis and flow out from there to the distros. This is because they emphasize maintainability over time to market whereas phone vendors are often the other way around.

          There's no actual requirement to send kernel code to Linus Torvalds, so long as you do make the source available. It's just that if you do send it to Linus and it makes it into the mainstream release, then future maintenance becomes much simpler. This by the way is why the server and PC vendors tend to be more organised about this than the phone vendors, they value long term maintenance more.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is the comment about this year being the year of Linux on the desktop still valid after this release, or has it been deprecated now?

    1. kryptylomese

      It is the most popular operating system in the world - you can use it on the desktop if you want to....

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Perhaps, but it's still far from the preferred choice in terms of overall adoption. If Linux wants to be THE OS for the desktop, it will need several boosts here and there.

        Support has improved considerably, yes, but it can still have teething issues, particularly where vendors aren't exactly forthcoming with hardware support for various reasons such as protection of trade secrets. The closer to mainstream, off-the-bleeding-edge you get, the more likely you'll have a smooth time. And then there's the software selection, particularly for the consumer end where people just want to put it in and work. There are native applications that can do a lot such as GIMP and LibreOffice if they're to your taste (I've spent time on it so can speak from experience), and thanks to the WINE project, Windows compatibility continues to improve, but it will always trail the bleeding edge (and that's what killed it for me since I like to game).

        1. Daniel Palmer

          >If Linux wants to be THE OS for the desktop, it will need several boosts here and there.

          I'm not sure Linux (the git repo containing code for a general propose unix workalike kernel, or a compiled version of said code) wants to be anything. There are developers that want Linux to be the go to kernel for desktop systems, there are some that are only interested in machines with hundreds of processors, there are others that are more interested in seeing it run on stupidly under powered relics (the h8300 port might make a come back with device tree support like ARM :P). The fact that linux isn't targeted to one particular job is exactly why it's used literally everywhere and why it's interesting to work on.

          >Support has improved considerably, yes,

          Support for what exactly? Most common PC hardware works out of the box. The kernel side of things needed for The Desktop(TM) are there and have been for ages. If you want a totally integrated experience like Windows or OSX the distribution you're looking for is Ubuntu.

          >but it can still have teething issues, particularly where vendors aren't exactly

          >forthcoming with hardware support for various reasons such as protection

          >of trade secrets.

          IMHO hardware support under Linux is far superior than any other OS. People make out like you can just plug any old shit into a Windows machine and have it work but fail to mention all the time you have to spend hunting for drivers or returning stuff because the vendor doesn't support whatever version of Windows you happen to have.

          >And then there's the software selection, particularly for the consumer

          >end where people just want to put it in and work.

          Linux is a kernel. It's not really the kernel's fault that the current desktop market share is mostly Windows so that's what commercial developers target. There's nothing particular about the Linux kernel that means the type of applications that run on Windows couldn't run on Linux.

          >There are native applications that can do a lot such as GIMP and LibreOffice

          So you're not talking about Linux. You're talking about common types of applications that desktop users need whether they are running Linux, OSX,... Anyhow this is going to be less and less of a problem now that everyone wants to use more portable development tools etc so they can get their stuff running on the desktop, web, mobile etc.

          >but it will always trail the bleeding edge (and that's what killed it for me since I like to game).

          Not really the kernel's fault again. There are lots of games on Android so it's not like Linux can't do games.

          1. deive

            +1 Daniel!

            >There are native applications that can do a lot such as GIMP and LibreOffice

            Also, not forgetting that the 2 main applications always stated for this (Adobe Photoshop and MS Office) are both moving to on-line SaS, with more and more functionality going onto the browser and cross-platform clients!

          2. Charles 9 Silver badge

            "Support for what exactly? Most common PC hardware works out of the box."

            Talk to performance gamers. High-end graphics support tends to lag in the Linux front, which kind of puts a crimp on Valve's effort to push Linux gaming with Steam Machines. Flaky graphics support is one reason I had to abandon Xubuntu (spontaneous resets), and my Radeon 6850 should've been near the top of the support list.

            "IMHO hardware support under Linux is far superior than any other OS."

            Oh? I tried Ubuntu on a old Dell Inspiron. Fell flat because no nVidia driver worked on it. Noveaux was too slow and the nVidia blob wouldn't support the chipset. Dead end. And this isn't the first time.

            "Linux is a kernel. It's not really the kernel's fault that the current desktop market share is mostly Windows so that's what commercial developers target. There's nothing particular about the Linux kernel that means the type of applications that run on Windows couldn't run on Linux."

            But the Linux community, which includes the kernel community, should be pushing for most mainstream support, but they're not, so they're in the rut they are now.

            "So you're not talking about Linux. You're talking about common types of applications that desktop users need whether they are running Linux, OSX,... Anyhow this is going to be less and less of a problem now that everyone wants to use more portable development tools etc so they can get their stuff running on the desktop, web, mobile etc."

            Except the desktop will continue to exist for performance applications like gaming. See the above common beef PC gamers have concerning their video cards.

            1. Daniel Palmer

              >Talk to performance gamers.

              My recent Nvidia GPU (I forget which..) works fine with whatever nvidia driver is in Debian/Sid and I can play all of the games I have in steam just fine.

              >Radeon 6850 should've been near the top of the support list.

              One hardware vendor not being very good with their Linux driver's isn't the fault of "the linux community" or Linux itself. There's nothing in the kernel that stops AMD's stuff from working if they want to support it properly. If they don't that's their problem. I'll just stick to nvidia stuff.

              >Oh? I tried Ubuntu on a old Dell Inspiron. Fell flat because no nVidia driver worked on it.

              >Noveaux was too slow and the nVidia blob wouldn't support the chipset.

              >Dead end. And this isn't the first time.

              I would guess the chipset you were trying to use is one that is A: either not yet supported in the latest greatest version of the driver or B: A legacy chipset that requires the one of the legacy versions of the drivers. Neither of these issues is an issue that is due to the kernel being Linux. Nvidia stops supporting older chipsets in their drivers for Windows too. If you have a brand new card and you want to run it with an OS that is used by less than 1% of nvidia's customers you should expect driver updates that support that card to take a little while. With the nvidia drivers at least support for their new chipsets does eventually happen.

              You can't just stick any old nvidia card in a Windows machine and expect it to just work either so your point is moot from the start.

              >But the Linux community, which includes the kernel community,

              >should be pushing for most mainstream support, but they're not, so they're in the rut they are now.

              How do you push commercial entities that rely on profits from sales to produce products that would certainly lose them money?

              I'm not sure why the Linux community or kernel community should be pushing for a bunch of productivity apps that you're interested in when most of us aren't interested in that stuff either way. I use Linux because I'm a developer and I have access to some of the best tools out there and they are free and opensource. The apps you're interested in are all going "cloud" based anyhow and it won't matter what platform your on for those in a few years time.

              "Except the desktop will continue to exist for performance applications like gaming.

              See the above common beef PC gamers have concerning their video cards."

              If demand for Linux drivers for the latest generation of GPUs goes up then driver support for those GPUs will improve.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                "One hardware vendor not being very good with their Linux driver's isn't the fault of "the linux community" or Linux itself. There's nothing in the kernel that stops AMD's stuff from working if they want to support it properly. If they don't that's their problem. I'll just stick to nvidia stuff."

                Did you read about the problem I had with the Dell Inspiron? That was an nVidia chipset, which means I'm having problems with BOTH the big boys.

                "You can't just stick any old nvidia card in a Windows machine and expect it to just work either so your point is moot from the start."

                Inspirons are laptops. You don't HAVE a choice with those.

                "How do you push commercial entities that rely on profits from sales to produce products that would certainly lose them money?"

                More and more applications use more common frameworks that make them easier to port. Take Source and Unreal Engine, both known multiplats. Why aren't more games that use them coming out for Mac and Linux? In such an environment, the cost to port shouldn't be that great, putting them in a "Why not?" situation: small risk for potential additional returns.

                "If demand for Linux drivers for the latest generation of GPUs goes up then driver support for those GPUs will improve."

                The demand IS there, but the graphics companies are still snubbing them to some degree. Read about the current complaints concerning the nVidia GTX900 series. You just can't win. The incumbent Windows still carries all the momentum, and there's no substitute for the PC in performance gaming and performance-heavy tasks that call for dedicated workstations.

        2. BobChip
          Meh

          The world is not made of gamers

          You make it sound as though gaming is the only game in town. It is not. For those of us who actually have to work for a living, a modern Linux distro, based on a solid Linux kernel, is an entirely viable proposition. In fact for system modelling and high end graphics, it has been our OS of choice for the last 7 or 8 years. OsX is a sort of OK second choice, with Windows barely even in the frame.

          Sorry mate.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Still far and above the most popular kernel in the marketplace.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Still only for a certain value of "marketplace". Basically, it's niched. It works in embedded applications and high-performance applications where customization helps. Its use in servers is middling; Windows and other OS's actively compete here and there's give and take. But in the PC market, its presence is about as bad as Windows' presence is in phones & tablets. The worst part is that there may be no way in, for the same reasons: the markets are matured, giving incumbents a massive edge with their institutional momentum; only a real market disruption will dislodge them.

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