Three Things That Won't Be In The Linux 2.6.37 Kernel
While the Linux 2.6.36 kernel was released yesterday, we already have our eyes towards the Linux 2.6.37 kernel to see what new features this next kernel will bring, any performance changes that may come as a result (we continue to benchmark the kernel everyday), and this will likely be the kernel version used by Ubuntu 11.04 and other early 2011 Linux distributions. While we have already reported on some of the features that should be merged into the Linux 2.6.37 kernel, there's at least three major features we have been looking forward to that will be sadly missing from this kernel.
VIA's Graphics DRM With GEM/TTM & KMS: Last year we shared VIA's Linux TODO list, which included having TTM/GEM memory management done within their VIA Chrome DRM kernel module by the second quarter of 2010 and kernel mode-setting support in the second half of 2010. We are now in the fourth quarter of 2010 and we have seen no signs of the completed TTM/GEM memory management support ready for mainline kernel integration. In fact, there's been no signs of activity at all in months whether it be via code commits, mailing list activity, or other communication. Even VIA's hidden Linux driver hasn't been touched in five months.
There's no VIA kernel graphics code going into the Linux 2.6.37 kernel. Kernel memory management support via GEM/TTM is a prerequisite for kernel mode-setting (KMS) support so it's unlikely we will see that support at all in 2010, not to mention that Linux 2.6.37 is the last kernel of this calendar year. VIA's TODO list also had laid out plans to develop a Gallium3D graphics driver in Q4'2010, which obviously is not likely to appear.
We're starting to wonder whether we will even see any of this VIA work completed in H1'2011 or even at all. There hasn't even been any activity on the openchrome-devel mailing list since April of this year, which according to VIA is their "best friend" and where they plan to host much of this development work.
Reiser4 File-System: The future of Reiser4 has been called into question for years now after Hans Reiser had murdered his wife, but Edward Shishkin since took over this file-system's development. In November of 2009 he told us that he may aim for Reiser4 in the Linux kernel in 2010 following the USENIX Annual 2010 conference that took place in June. However, it doesn't look like Reiser4 is yet ready to go mainline.
This though isn't terribly bad news since at least there is out-of-tree code available (unlike VIA) to patch your kernel, EXT4 and Btrfs are continuing to do a nice job for Linux file-systems, and at least they are still working on it (there's even mailing list activity).
AMD Radeon HD 6000 Series DRM: With the release of the first AMD Radeon HD 6000 series graphics cards being imminent, it would have been wonderful to see the initial open-source DRM/KMS support arrive in the Linux 2.6.37 kernel so we can at least have some kernel mode-setting support within the early 2011 Linux distributions. However, sadly it doesn't look like this will happen.
AMD has been making progress in reducing the time between hardware launches and the open-source support arriving, but with the Radeon HD 6000 series we aren't there yet. Meanwhile, Intel has had Sandy Bridge Linux support in the works since early this year with their X.Org, kernel, and Mesa components. By the time the first Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs roll out this quarter, there should even be solid 3D support.
AMD still has some catching up to do in this area, but it looks like we won't even see the initial support until at least the Linux 2.6.38 kernel, but perhaps at that point we will see some basic acceleration too. We do know that internally they are already working on the open-source HD 6000 support. It's also likely with the AMD Radeon HD 6000 GPUs that they will be the first generation where the open-source support is done only in a Gallium3D driver rather than a classic Mesa driver too.
There's also other items missing from the Linux kernel that we would like to see, such as a proper Intel Poulsbo Linux driver, but VIA DRM, Radeon HD 6000 DRM, and Reiser4 were three of the prominent features that would have been particularly nice to see with Linux 2.6.37. At least though we will have DisplayLink driver improvements, more desktop responsiveness patches, Broadcom's new 802.11n driver, gaming mouse drivers, and various open-source graphics improvements (such as Evergreen blit support and Intel DisplayLink / HDMI audio).
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