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Linux 2.6.38-rc1 Is Here With Two Features Linus Loves

Linux Kernel

Published on 18 January 2011 08:02 PM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel
11 Comments

After keeping the Linux 2.6.38 kernel merge window open for two weeks, Linus Torvalds has this evening announced the release of the Linux 2.6.38-rc1 kernel. This kernel has a lot to love about it, including Linus' two favorite features of the group scheduling improvements and the RCU-based path name lookup support. Performance improvements!

The group scheduling improvements are of course, very well known already via our article with videos entitled The ~200 Line Linux Kernel Patch That Does Wonders. Each of the two videos showing off this feature now in the mainline kernel earned over 100,000 views each on YouTube. The improved group scheduling really improves the overall desktop experience if running intensive tasks from the terminal (i.e. a multi-threaded application or GCC with multiple jobs) while still having a responsive system to do other things like surf the web or watch movies.

The RCU-based path name lookup is Torvalds' other favorite feature. "The RCU-based name lookup is at the other end of the spectrum - the absolute anti-gimmick. It's some seriously good stuff, and gets rid of the last main global lock that really tends to hurt some kernel loads. The dentry lock is no longer a big serializing issue. What's really nice about it is that it actually improves performance a lot even for single-threaded loads (on an SMP kernel), because it gets rid of some of the most expensive parts of path component lookup, which was the d_lock on every component lookup. So I'm seeing improvements of 30-50%
on some seriously pathname-lookup intensive loads."

You can bet I am getting ready to benchmark this kernel release with OpenBenchmarking.org and Phoronix Test Suite 3.0 "Iveland" code.


There's many big DRM improvements for the open-source graphics drivers in this forthcoming kernel.

Also in the Linux 2.6.38 kernel is initial Nouveau Fermi acceleration support so that the DRM bits are in place for NVIDIA GeForce 400/500 series graphics cards can play with the open-source Nouveau driver for 2D/X-Video and 3D (Gallium3D) acceleration.

On the AMD side, the open-source Fusion support has landed along with the support for the Radeon HD 6000 series graphics cards.

One of my favorite features about the Linux 2.6.38 kernel are the ATI KMS driver improvements. Besides bringing support for Fusion and Northern Islands to the open-source driver, the 2.6.38 kernel has KMS page-flipping support, which delivers major performance improvements. (I have more Radeon 2.6.38 benchmarks on the way in the coming days.)

Last but not least, there's new drivers, ARM architecture updates, and lots of other improvements to love about the Linux 2.6.38 kernel. This is one of the most exciting kernel releases I've been looking forward to in a while.

You can read the Torvalds' 2.6.38-rc1 kernel release announcement at LKML.org.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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