The Wonderful World of Linux 3.0
Joseph Pranevich – jpranevich <at> gmail.com
Author's Note: This is WWOL30 draft #1, dated 5/30/11, aka the “Waking Up From A Long Winter's Nap” edition. This is the first draft and so there will be many bugs and typos and I appreciate any assistance in squashing them. If you are interested in translating this document into another language, please let me know. I would recommend not beginning until the drafts stabilize, but that is up to you.
Note for web searches: At least for now, a “parody” WWOL30 will show up above this one. That is an article, written in 1999, as part of an event for a popular web comic. Don't be confused! Linux 3.0 really does not support abacuses and the world didn't end on January 1, 2000.
It's been nearly eight years since the release to the world of Linux 2.6 and a tremendous amount has happened in the Linux world. While Linux has not yet been successful in the desktop market, it has become a system that even our metaphorical mothers are using thanks to its commanding presence on smart phones (through Android) and on consumer devices (such as Tivo). The world has changed since Linux 2.6.0, and so has Linux.
This document describes just a few of the thousands of changes and improvements that have been made to the Linux kernel since the launch of Linux 2.6. I have attempted to make it as accessible as possible for a general audience, while not shying away from technical language when necessary.
An Important Note: Release Cycle
Perhaps the biggest change with the launch of Linux 3.0 may be how small the impact will be for most Linux users. In previous release cycles, Linux was developed using a two-branch process. One branch, the even-numbered one, was considered “stable” and had few new features added to it after release. The second branch was targeted for “development” and while many new features would appear (and sometimes disappear) there, users were warned against using that branch for real work. This meant a delay, often of years, between when a feature was placed in the development kernel and when it would be available to end users.
No more. Linux 3.0 was developed using a new model, where there are more frequent oscillations between unstable (“testing”) and stable releases, directly on the 2.6 kernel tree. So even though Linux 3.0 represents a major upgrade, it also is the culmination in a long chain of smaller releases. Most of the features which are new to Linux 3.0 have been available, in a stable form, for Linux users to enjoy for some time.