Linux kernel 2.6 heads for final testing

The delayed operating system core gets one last test version for developers to examine.

The delayed operating system core gets one last test version for developers to examine.

Linux creator Linus Torvalds has released a fresh test version of the long-delayed 2.6 operating system kernel, which is expected to be the last test release before the software is finalised.

Kernel version 2.6.0-test11 made its way onto the Web late on Wednesday, before Torvalds said he was clocking off for the US' long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. "Please don't even bother sending me patches, because I'll be stuffing my face away from email over the next few days," Torvalds wrote in an email to the Linux kernel mailing list. "Mmmm. Turkey."

The release is one more incremental step towards the finalisation of version 2.6.0, which was originally planned for mid-2003 and will now probably arrive in December, according to Andrew Morton, the programmer in charge of the software. Testers can download releases from kernel.org.

Morton said in an interview earlier this week that 2.6.0-test10 would probably be the last test release, but a set of Linux drivers for Adaptec devices, called aic7xxx, was found to be broken in the earlier release, Torvalds said. The new release also fixes a few other minor bugs.

Version 2.6.0 itself will emerge by the end of the year "unless the wheels fall off in a serious manner," 2.6 overseer Andrew Morton said on Tuesday. The 2.6 Linux core, called the kernel, brings major changes compared with the 2.4 version currently sold by companies such as Red Hat and SuSE Linux. One significant improvement is the ability to take advantage of the powerful servers with numerous processors, a market where Unix is popular today and which Microsoft also is trying to crack.

Linux is based on Unix. But unlike Unix, Linux grew popular on widely used and low-priced Intel-based computers. It first became popular among corporate customers on lower-end servers, but running on higher-end servers will let Linux supplant more of the Unix market.

A large number of often self-appointed programmers create Linux by collaborating and sharing the source code that underlies the software. This open-source development process contrasts starkly with the proprietary controls that govern Linux competitors such as Unix and Windows. But one thing is similar with the two approaches: delays.

Linus Torvalds, who founded and still leads the Linux programming project, said last year he hoped 2.6.0 would emerge in June. Similar schedule slips afflicted the 2.4 kernel, which was released in January 2001.

ZNet U.K.'s Matthew Broersma reported from London, and CNET News.com's Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.

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