Linux 2.6 creeps forward

Version 2.6 of the Linux kernel crept a little closer to reality as the Open Source Development Lab Inc. (OSDL) on Monday made available a test version of the technology aimed primarily at enterprise developers.

The OSDL is calling on all major Linux users, developers, and systems providers to focus on the new release, called Test9, to “test, validate, and enhance” it in preparation for the finished version of the technology, which is due either late this year or early next. The new version is now available for download at or

“Now is when we want big companies and software vendors to step in and hammer on the kernel so we can get their ideas into the final production release of 2.6 Linux,” said Linux Torvalds, an OSDL fellow, in a prepared statement on Monday.

Both Torvalds and Andrew Morton, who maintains the 2.6 kernel, finished work on Test9 over this past weekend.

This past July, the OSDL released the first test version of the 2.6 kernel, which included stable APIs, Posix, and thread interfaces. Since then, according to an OSLD spokesperson, the group has worked on a series of performance and regression tests on the kernel at its Portland, Ore.-based labs as well as those in Yokahama, Japan.

The OSDL believes the 2.6 version of the kernel will widen the appeal of Linux among larger enterprises because of its added power and performance that allows it to better run high-end mission-critical applications and operating environments.

“We think (Version) 2.6 will really broaden the markets where Linux can replace legacy platforms. It has new features that allow Linux to scale dramatically up to support 32-bit or more processors as well as down to run on a wide variety of consumer devices,” said Timothy Witham, the director of the OSDL labs in Portland, Ore.

Besides greater scalability some of the improvements being made to Version 2.6 include a new CPU scheduler, improved memory management, and file system code. It also features a new device driver layer so that I/O devices such as disks perform better and are markedly easier to manage, an OSDL spokesperson said.

The upcoming version also sports new desktop features such as support for hot plug devices including firewire and USB. Test 9 also now handles mice, video, and sound capabilities more smoothly, OSDL officials contend.

More information about the new version and OSDL can be found at