Linux kernel gets an update

Kernel 2.6.17 of the open-source operating system includes support for Sun's Niagara chips, wireless-friendly changes.
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor on

The final version of the latest Linux kernel, 2.6.17, was released to the public over the weekend.

The kernel, dubbed the "crazed Snow-Weasel," includes a range of new features. They include support for Sun Microsystems' Niagara chip architecture and for Broadcom's 43xx-based wireless card family, as well as several performance improvements.

Broadcom's wireless technology is used in many commercial wireless data cards. According to an article on Linux-Watch, this wireless driver support relies on a new software MAC layer that has been added to the kernel's wireless stack and works with Linux's built-in 802.11 layer.

Support has also been added for Cisco Systems' Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol (LEAP), which provides username/password-based authentication between a wireless client and network.

Both developments could make Linux more usable on a laptop and boost its popularity with mobile workers and IT managers.

Other improvements to the kernel include a new I/O mechanism called splice, which uses a "random kernel buffer" to speed up memory calls.

The kernel can be downloaded from the Linux Kernel Archives, where the full change-log can also be seen.

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