LJ Archive


diff -u: What's New in Kernel Development

Zack Brown

Issue #123, July 2004

Roland Dreier and the folks at OpenIB.org have produced a rough cut of an InfiniBand stack, including a low-level driver for Mellanox HCA hardware; upper-layer protocols such as IP-over-InfiniBand, SCSI RDMA protocol, sockets direct protocol (SDP), uDAPL and MPI; and accompanying user-space utilities. The code itself is open source, but Microsoft has intellectual property claims on SDP and does not automatically allow it to be used in open-source projects. As a result, Roland and the others have split their InfiniBand stack into free and encumbered packages, a decision that seems to satisfy everybody for the moment.

Intel has started a SourceForge project for its PRO/Wireless 2100 miniPCI network adapter driver for Linux kernels in the 2.4 and 2.6 series. Although the firmware is binary-only, the rest of the project seems to be in keeping with open-source methods. A public mailing list serves to connect developers, and new updates are published frequently, so everyone can try them out and report problems or suggest enhancements. Currently they've classified the code as early beta, so various bugs and missing features should be expected. At the same time, the Intel developers intend to be particularly sensitive to issues arising from interactions with particular Linux distributions, so hopefully the default installations of most distributions will break in only known, documented ways.

Niraj Kumar has ported UFS1 and UFS2 to Linux. UFS1 has been the native BSD filesystem for a long time, and UFS2 is a recent extension, adding such features as 64-bit block pointers and extended file storage. Niraj's Linux port is read-only at the moment, as work has just begun. UFS2 itself is quite new, and even on the BSD operating systems it does not yet support such things as the GRUB bootloader. It is the default only on FreeBSD systems; NetBSD still creates a normal FFS filesystem by default. Originally derived from UFS1 by Kirk McKusick and Poul-Henning Kamp, UFS2 is undergoing active development. Linux support apparently will follow close upon its adoption by the BSDs.

Michael Geng has produced a GPLed device driver for the I2C-based Videotext/Teletext decoder SAA5246A, providing the same interface as that of the SAA5249 chip driver. Based in part on work by Martin Buck, Michael has cleaned up the existing code and completed the work to the point that Andrew Morton has accepted it into the 2.6 tree as part of the official kernel sources. As Michael points out, newer TV cards no longer include these Teletex decoders and instead rely on the CPU to perform the same function. When present, however, these chips appear to do a better job and are worth supporting where possible.

Emulex has decided to open source the driver for its LightPulse Fibre Channel Adapter family and has created a SourceForge project page to accomplish this. The hope is to get the code cleaned up and completed and have it accepted into the 2.6 kernel tree. When a company decides to free up the source code for one of its drivers, they typically are given a warm batch of kudos from the kernel developers, as well as comments, criticism and patches from developers looking over the code for the first time. In this case, Jeff Garzik has done the most probing analysis, offering a ton of feedback to the Emulex developers. Apparently there are some ugly bits in the code, as the Emulex folks had warned in the announcement, but Emulex seems committed to doing whatever cleanup is necessary to make the driver acceptable to Andrew and the rest of the kernel folks.

Kristian Soerensen has been working recently on Umbrella, a new security project for handheld devices intended to help protect them from viruses and other cracks. One of the main features of Umbrella is its unambiguous configuration system. All complexity has been eliminated, so it is not possible for the user to mistakenly allow undesired breaches.

LJ Index—July 2004

  • 1. Trillions of icy objects in the Oort cloud surrounding the solar system: 6

  • 2. Transactions per minute (tpmC) of Oracle Database 10g on an NEC Intel system running SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9: 609,467

  • 3. Price-performance ratio in $/tpmC of the above: 6.78

  • 4. Size in billions of dollars of the embedded software market in 2002: .675

  • 5. Projected size in billions of dollars of the embedded software market in 2007: 1

  • 6. Mandrake percentage in DesktopLinux's 2004 Desktop Linux survey: 20.3

  • 7. Red Hat percentage in DesktopLinux's 2004 Desktop Linux survey: 19.3

  • 8. SuSE percentage in DesktopLinux's 2004 Desktop Linux survey: 16.0

  • 9. Debian percentage in DesktopLinux's 2004 Desktop Linux survey: 11.1

  • 1: Solarviews.com

  • 2, 3: Oracle

  • 4, 5: Gartner, in BusinessWeek

  • 6–9: DesktopLinux.com

They Said It

The technology (software) industry really only has 75 leaders, they just continually recycle in and out of successful and failed companies.

When you experience bad service it's because that service is hostage to a business plan.

—Britt Blaser, telephone call

The most important operating system you write applications for ain't Windows, or Macintosh, or Linux. It's Homo Sapiens Version 1.0. It shipped about a hundred thousand years ago, there's no update in sight; but it's the one that runs everything.

—Bill Hill (channel9.msdn.com)

Open source has no secrets.

—Doc Searls

When you stop to think about it, you keep secrets from people when you don't want them to know the truth. Secrets, even when legitimate and necessary, as in genuine national-security cases, are what you might call passive lies.

I figured yesterday I might as well see how hard it would be to turn GtkTextView into a real editor.

I started with the three hundred lines of Python and a fairly simple Glade file I made on Christmas day. After two days of hacking, I have added a thousand lines of code, and now this thing is fairly usable. Yes, I'm now writing this log with the new editor.

—Lars Wirzenius (liw.iki.fi)

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