New Linux kernel hurries to release

The new kernel arrives less than two weeks after its predecessor, making some wonder why so many bug fixes are necessary

Linus Torvalds has released the latest stable update to the Linux operating system kernel, version 2.4.13, the second kernel update to be released in quick succession.

The quick pace of releases has some Linux users questioning their quality. Version 2.4.11 was released with a flaw major enough to warrant its replacement two days later, and 2.4.13 arrives less than two weeks after its predecessor.

However, the releases, while considered "stable", are mainly intended for testing when they first appear. They are only incorporated into final products after several months of testing; for example, Red Hat released its own Linux 7.2 on Monday, using the 2.4.7 kernel.

Version 2.4.13 updates drivers for sound cards, networks and USB as well as numerous other tweaks.

Torvalds, who originated the Linux kernel about 10 years ago as the heart of a Unix-like operating system, has gone on record as saying that improvements to the kernel are now less important than efforts to make Linux more useable.

Linux is developed under the open-source model, which opens development and beta-testing to the developer community. Under the GNU Public Licence, any improvements must be made available to other developers. Linux competes with proprietary, "closed" operating systems like Microsoft's Windows and the various flavours of Unix, and has been particularly successful in universities, laboratories and in running Web servers.

The new kernel is available from kernel.org and various mirror sites.

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