LJ Archive


diff -u: What's New in Kernel Development

Zack Brown

Issue #142, February 2006

The ksymoops tool is no longer needed for decoding OOPSes under the 2.6 kernel. The kernel does it all for you if you build your kernel with CONFIG_KALLSYMS enabled. After this, the OOPS output may be transcribed directly from the screen to a bug report and sent to the linux-kernel mailing list. Although it's hard to find anything “convenient” about a kernel OOPS, this at least represents one big step saved for anyone reporting crashes to the kernel developers. The 2.4 tree will continue to rely on ksymoops for all OOPS decoding, and this is unlikely to change due to the late hour of 2.4 development. Marcelo Tosatti has finally begun to stave off additional features successfully, and we can expect him to grow ever more strict over time.

Pantelis Antoniou has written code to allow AMD's Au1x00 embedded processor to support communication over the serial port, via the standard 8250 serial driver. The code was not actually so complex—the main oddities being that the Au1x00 has registers at different offsets than the 8250 serial driver expects, and this requires a mapping function to do the conversion. Modem status-change interrupts must be disabled for this hardware, because not all members of the Au1x00 family support it. These oddities have been #ifdefed out of the more standard parts of the 8250 driver, but the ultimate form of the code probably will be determined by the main kernel folks. Although #ifdefs are generally frowned upon, they also are still quite common in the kernel.

Jaya Kumar has coded up support for the AMD Geode CS5535 audio device, and he has listed himself as the official CS5535 audio ALSA driver maintainer. This looks like an easy sell, with no one opposed, and only minor technical objections to overcome. Andrew Morton examined the driver himself and found no serious flaws. SPDIF support is planned, but Jaya as yet says he has no way to test the feature once it's implemented. The CS5535 was designed as a client device for the GX 533@1.1W processor, and other Northbridge components, to produce embedded appliances. Linux may use it this way or may find some twisted yet brilliant alternative.

The primary kernel.org server has moved to the Oregon State University Open Source Lab, where it has better bandwidth, better backups and a staff to tend it. Javier Henderson flew the machine there himself, on a private plane, for minimal downtime. See osuosl.org/photos/kernel/view for photos of the touching event and to find out more about OSL. Several glitches had to be worked out after the move, including problems mirroring to the other kernel.org nodes, and one situation where different nodes ended up with different versions of git repositories, causing developers to see errors when they tried to sync with Linus Torvalds' tree. But these were ironed out quickly, and the new kernel.org setup seems to be working out very well.

The Linux boot code, like the boot code of most if not all operating systems, is complex and messy. And judging by a recent failed attempt to clean it up, this may be the state of affairs for a long time to come. Etienne Lorrain, who's been hacking the boot code since 1998, finally decided to rewrite it from twisted Assembly to sparkling clean C. Unfortunately, the only way he could see to do this was to abandon support for the LILO and GRUB bootloaders. True, Etienne added a number of nice features, such as eliminating any restriction on kernel size and providing boot-time access to the BIOS in a fully functioning state. But as Pavel Machek pointed out to him, “We have bad assembly bootup code. Adding good C bootup code, that is incompatible with LILO/GRUB, does nothing to clean the mess up.”

Stephen Hemminger has set up a new wiki for Linux networking documentation, at linux-net.osdl.org. Originally started as a repository for his own work, Stephen opened the wiki up to all networking-related contributions. This has drawn some criticism from folks like Greg Kroah-Hartman, who point out that the wiki at wiki.kernelnewbies.org has existed for quite a while and would have welcomed contributions by Stephen. Stephen's reply to this is that there were Linux wikis before, and there would be more later. In fact, both wikis seem quite good, and there is always the possibility that they will merge later on.

Google Does Linux Videos

Doc Searls

Issue #142, February 2006

Google famously maintains the largest farm of Linux servers on Earth. (Ten thousand? Thirty thousand? A million? I've heard all those numbers.) Perhaps less famously, it also contributes substantially to many Open Source communities and advocacy organizations (for example, Free Software Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, Python Software foundations and OSDL). In 2005, Google's Summer of Code matched students and mentors around the world to drive participation in dozens of open-source projects. The company has also donated $350,000 to Oregon State University and Portland State University for a joint open-source technology initiative.

On the other hand, the company also has taken some heat from members of the Linux community (yours truly included) for releasing new software on Windows alone, or only on Windows and Macintosh, before getting around to Linux clients.

Well, that changed with the new Google Video service. When it was launched as a beta service last fall, Google Video came with uploaders for all three platforms.

Google Video's upload page also says, “we prefer that you encode your video files using MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 codecs with MP3 audio.” Though they don't give the reasons, they highly discourage the familiar proprietary formats: QuickTime, RealVideo and Windows Media.

Unlike Google's familiar search service, Google Video is essentially a giant server farm for anybody's video uploads. Google also provides a mechanism for selling your videos, if you're interested. Charge any price you like, including zero. The copyright is also all yours.

At this writing (not long after the service went live), there are 34 Linux-related videos on the service. Let's see how high we can make that number.

LJ Index, February 2006

Doc Searls

Issue #142, February 2006

1. Number of Linux videos found by Google Video's public beta on November 8, 2005: 13

2. Number of Linux videos found by Yahoo on November 8, 2005: 2,441

3. Percent annual Linux growth rate: 25.9

4. Billions of US dollars in Linux business revenues in 2005: 20

5. Projected billions of US dollars in Linux business revenues in 2008: 40

6. Number of members in OSDL: 80

7. Number of members in the new Open Invention Network: 5

8. Number of members in the new LiPS (Linux Phone Standard): 10

9. Number of memers of CELF (Consumer Electronics Linux Forum): 53

10. The actual dollar price that children will be charged for the $100 laptop from the One Laptop Per Child Program (OLPC): 0

11. Millions of $100 laptops planned for production late this year or early next: 10

12. Millions of US dollars donated to the OLPC program by Red Hat, AMD, Google, News Corp. and Brightstar Corp., apiece: 2

13. Low estimate millions of kids expected to receive a $100 laptop: 100

14. High estimate millions of kids expected to receive a $100 laptop: 150

15. Price in US dollars reportedly offered by Steve Jobs for OS X, for the laptops: 0

16. Percentage of the world to which AMD plans to bring Internet and computing access by 2015: 50

17. Total millions of PCs expected to ship in 2005: 200

18. Minimum laptop percentage of total 2005 PC shipments: 50

19. Number of results in a WalMart.com search for “Linux”: 314

20. Lowest-priced Linux in US dollars (Linspire) PC sold at WalMart.com: 219.84

1: video.google.com

2: Yahoo.com

3–5: International Data Corp., via Open Invention Network


7: Open Invention Network

8: LinuxDevices


10–16: Wall Street Journal

17, 18: theInquirer.net

19, 20: WalMart.com

On the Web

Are you thinking that it might be time to move your music writing and production projects to Linux? Or, have you heard some talk about the much-improved ALSA Project, but aren't exactly sure what tools are available and what they can do? Whether you are starting fresh on creating your musical oeuvre or want to move your work to open source, Dave Phillips' long-running LJ.com series, At the Sounding Edge, offers all sorts of overviews, tips and how-tos on ALSA, Ardour, Planet CCRMA, Hydrogen, MIDIs, soundfile editors and more.

Dave's current topic is music notation software for Linux—programs that do both music scoring and music typesetting. So far, he's covered the Lisp-based Common Music Notation (www.linuxjournal.com/article/8670) and the abc music notation specification language (www.linuxjournal.com/article/8629). In addition, Dave also wrote a two-part article on LilyPond for us. LilyPond is the current favorite among many Linux musicians when it comes to music notation, because, as Dave writes, “LilyPond automatically formats most music for excellent printed output, at the same time permitting highly detailed customizations to accommodate virtually any music scoring requirement, including unusual and idiosyncratic notations.” For details on how to get LilyPond, what it can do and what its GUIs offer, check out Dave's articles at www.linuxjournal.com/article/7657 and www.linuxjournal.com/article/7719.

For a complete list of all Dave's At the Sounding Edge articles, plus other Linux audio coverage, take a look under the Audio/Video Category (www.linuxjournal.com/taxonomy/term/14/9) on LJ.com. And if you recently completed a musical masterpiece with the help of Linux audio software or wrote your own piece of audio software, drop us a note at info@linuxjournal.com.

They Said It

The best way to generate startup ideas is to do what hackers do for fun: cook up amusing hacks with your friends.

Whether or not you wish to argue about Freedom to code versus the cost of the software, what a lot of us are worried about is something even more intrinsic to the problem. We're worried about keeping the time that was spent at the front of the creation equation. We should be able to donate that time and not have it used against us later. We should be able to be a part of a community, and that simply means giving some things away. The GPL guarantees that our gifts will have the longevity they deserve.

My goal is to do all of the work it takes to be explaining to the Supreme Court in 2025 why broadcasting is unconstitutional.

Imagine what's going to happen if a law gets passed saying, in effect, “You put something on my computer without my knowledge, and that's breaking and entering”?

Some expect the Microsoft Windows market share, today well in excess of 90% worldwide, to erode in the coming years. Market share for Mac OS X is expected to remain flat, and demand for every other non-Microsoft desktop operating system is expected to dwindle. So Linux, already the fastest growing desktop operating system, is poised to continue making desktop inroads.

—Mark Stone, Intel, www.intel.com/cd/ids/developer/asmo-na/eng/240846.htm (via Tom Adelstein)

Every time you blog, God kills a CEO.

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