German Linux company SuSE announced Friday that it will provide customers with the newly released Linux kernel 2.4 on 12 February, just a few weeks after it was unveiled by Linus Torvalds.
SuSE is the first major distributor of the Linux operating system to package the new kernel -- expected to improve the operating system's appeal -- with its operating system software.
The new kernel -- which constitutes the core of the Linux operating system -- brings a number of benefits, especially for business computer systems. The kernel will extend the capabilities of Linux as a heavy-duty enterprise operating system. It will bring faster performance and includes improved support for multi-processor support machines an addressable RAM of up to 64GB, and 64-bit file system.
There are benefits for desktop users as well. It will make Linux more compatible with different hardware, including USB devices, ISA cards and the ACPI power management specification, something that has been a headache in the past for Linux users.
The much-awaited kernel was, however, released by the Linus Torvalds only weeks ago and has been tested much less than the reliable kernel 2.2.
"Of course the 2.4 kernel is still young," says chief technical officer for SuSE Dirk Hohndel in an email message. "There is no doubt about that. An immediate update to kernel 2.4 pays off especially for multi-processor computers and for systems with large memory [1GB and more]. Naturally, until kernel 2.4 is fully mature in the future, SuSE will continue to also deliver the proven 2.2 series kernels."
The new kernel is the open source community's big hope for competing with other flavours of Unix and Microsoft's Windows 2000 OS. Most firms are expected to be cautious about adopting the unproven kernel, however.
UK managing director for SuSE Rudiger Berlich says that enterprise computing will benefit from the new kernel. "It is significantly better," he says. "It has had the longest beta testing period [of any SuSE product]. Within three to six months it will be maintained as the stable kernel."
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