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

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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