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Linus Talks Of Linux 2.8 Or Linux 3.0; Ending Linux 2.6

Linux Kernel

Published on 23 May 2011 04:43 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel
25 Comments

In a message to the Linux Kernel Mailing List today regarding the shortened merge window for the Linux 2.6.40 kernel, Linus Torvalds brings up that there's already been many Linux 2.6 kernel releases and that he could end up tagging this as the Linux 2.8.0 kernel.

Linus issued an e-mail address today entitled (Short?) merge window reminder As mentioned last week when tagging the Linux 2.6.39 kernel, the Linux kernel creator expected the 2.6.40 merge window to be shorter than usual due to his travels concerning LinuxCon Japan at month's end. The merge window is likely just to be shorter by a few days than normal, which is usually about two weeks following the major release of each kernel.

This email was just intended to be a reminder to the driver and subsystem maintainers that this will be a shortened merge window as to not bombard him at the last minute with pull requests. At the end of this message though is where Linus Torvalds drops the potentially interesting bit. "PS. The voices in my head also tell me that the numbers are getting too big. I may just call the thing 2.8.0. And I almost guarantee that this PS is going to result in more discussion than the rest, but when the voices tell me to do things, I listen."

The only serious response so far to that comment by Linus has been from Greg Kroah-Hartman. He had said, "If you do this, I will buy you a bottle of whatever whiskey you want that I can get my hands on in Tokyo next week. {crosses fingers}"

For those that don't remember, it was Greg KH back in 2008 that proposed abandoning the Linux 2.6 kernel numbering. At that time he was instead interested in some other versioning scheme to reflect the time more than the minor version number that has largely become irrelevant with development sticking so long to the 2.6 series. Instead, Greg was more interested in seeing a "Linux 2009.0.0" or some other scheme to reflect the age of the kernel rather than some number that holds little value to the uneducated.

The Linux 2.6 kernel series is now on its way to its 40th release in the past seven years of development. For comparison, the Linux 2.4 series had about 24 releases prior to Linux 2.6.0 being released and the 2.4 series as of today is up to Linux 2.4.37.

It may make sense to bump the version number or switch to some other versioning scheme if a consensus can be reached, with the Linux kernel evolving quite well and no revolutionary changes likely to come in the foreseeable futures.

Some of the Linux 2.6.40 kernel features will include Sandy Bridge performance optimizations, initial Intel Ivy Bridge support, graphics support fixes, a form of NVIDIA Optimus, and many other features we'll begin talking about more soon as Linux 2.6.40-rc1 (or Linux 2.8.0-rc1) is tagged and released. There's also some features the next Linux kernel will not have.

Update: It looks like Linus might be quite serious about in fact changing the Linux kernel version. Here's another message he just wrote to the list.
So I'm toying with 3.0 (and in that case, it really would be "3.0", not "3.0.0" - the stable team would get the third digit rather than the fourth one.

But no, it wouldn't be for 42. Despite THHGTTG, I think "40" is a fairly nice round number.

There's also the timing issue - since we no longer do version numbers based on features, but based on time, just saying "we're about to start the third decade" works as well as any other excuse.

But we'll see.

Linus

Update 2: More information.

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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