Linux 3.7 arrives, ARM developers rejoice

The latest major Linux kernel release is here and it includes features that ARM developers and network administrators will love
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
The latest Linux, 3.7, comes with real improvements for ARM developers and network administrators.

Only months after the arrival of Linux 3.6, Linus Torvalds has released the next major Linux kernel update: 3.7. The time between releases wasn't long, but this new version includes major improvements for ARM developers and network administrators. The 3.7 source code is now available for downloading.

Programmers for ARM, the popular smartphone and tablet chip family, will be especially pleased with this release. ARM had been a problem child architecture for Linux. As Torvalds said in 2011, "Gaah. Guys, this whole ARM thing is a f**king pain in the ass." Torvalds continued, "You need to stop stepping on each others toes. There is no way that your changes to those crazy clock-data files should constantly result in those annoying conflicts, just because different people in different ARM trees do some masturbatory renaming of some random device. Seriously."

ARM got the message. Thanks to Olof Johansson, a Google Linux and ARM engineer, unified multi-platform ARM was ready to be included in Linux 3.7.

ARM's problem was that, unlike the x86 architecture, where one Linux kernel could run on almost any PC or server, almost every ARM system required its own customized Linux kernel. Now with 3.7, ARM architectures can use one single vanilla Linux kernel while keeping their special device sauce in device trees.

The end result is that ARM developers will be able to boot and run Linux on their devices and then worry about getting all the extras to work. This will save them, and the Linux kernel developers, a great deal of time and trouble.

Just as good for those ARM architects and programmers who are working on high-end, 64-bit ARM systems, Linux now supports 64-bit ARM processors. 64-bit ARM CPUs won't ship until in commercial quantities until 2013. When they do arrive though programmers eager to try 64-bit ARM processors on servers will have Linux ready for them.

Website and network administrators will also be happy with Linux 3.7. TCP Fast Open will now be supported on servers By eliminating a step in opening Internet TCP connections, TCP Fast Open can speed up Web page opening speeds from 10 to 40%.

Network managers who have Windows PCs on their networks will also be glad to know that Linux now supports Server Messenge Block (SMB2) protocol.. Microsoft introduced this file-sharing protocol in 2007 in Vista. While its predcessor, SMB, is still supported on Windows, SMB2 support will enable Linux file servers, and the many Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices that use Linux for their operating system, to deliver files faster to Windows PCs.

For those who are still using Network File System (NFS) to share files on their networks at long, long last Linux 3.7 now fully supports NFS 4.1. The main advantage of this is that it also means you can parallel NFS (pNFS). PNFS enables you to use clustered servers to provide extremely fast and scalable parallel file access.

If you want to know more about what's new and significant in Linux 3.7, check into th Kernel Newbies Linux 3.7 Website. The bottom line though is that if you're working with ARM or you're running a network, you're going to want Linux 3.7 in your Linux distribution as fast as possible. For you, Linux 3.7 is a game-changing release.

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