Android-friendly Linux 3.3 released

A new version of the Linux kernel, which includes kernel code from Android, is now available. Linux 3.3 also boasts upgraded networking features and support for an additional processing architecture.
The latest version of the Linux kernel was supposed to have been released about a week ago, but at the time another release candidate was needed to fix issues related to networking, memory management and drivers. That work is now done, and the new kernel is available for download, Linus Torvalds, creator of the operating system, announced Sunday.

The big news in version 3.3 is that Android features are again part of the Linux kernel, after the two camps had a falling out a few years ago.
The integration work will allow a developer to use the Linux kernel to run an Android system; to develop drivers for either the Android kernel or the Linux kernel; and to reduce or eliminate the burden of maintaining independent patches from release to release for Android kernel developers, according to the Android Mainlining Project.

“By making Android bootable on a Linux developer desktop and these connections to the Linux server, we see sort of a broadening of the Android developer pool and ecosystem,” says Jay Lyman, a senior analyst at 451 Research.

He adds that it was in Google’s “own interest to align Android development with Linux development.”

This release of Linux is especially significant because it addresses the needs of many different parties, including enterprises coping with the rapid pace of technology and BYOD issues, which he says are “really causing some disruption for IT operations teams.”

“This announcement doesn’t magically mean that Android phones can be easily managed by enterprises the way that BlackBerrys have been traditionally. But I think it’s a step closer to that.”

In future versions of the kernel, the work on integrating Linux and Android will include the addition of better power-management features, according to Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman.

But Android code isn’t the only addition in version 3.3 of the Linux kernel.

The kernel also integrates Open vSwitch, which is a multilayer virtual switch licensed under the open source Apache 2.0 license. It can forward traffic among different virtual machines on the same physical host and traffic between virtual machines and the physical network.
Linux can now also run on Texas Instruments’ c64x and c66x processors, which can be used in, for example, printers, mobile base stations and medical diagnostics equipment, according to the chip maker.
(With files from Brian Bloom, ComputerWorld Canada)

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