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The Kernel Column – Linux Kernel 3.8

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Linus Torvalds closed the 3.8 kernel ‘merge window’ (the period of time during which disruptive changes are allowed into the kernel, and are then stabilised before final release) just prior to the Christmas holiday. In his announcement of the first 3.8 ‘release candidate’, Linus said, “The longest night of the year is upon us (and by ‘us’ I mean mainly people in the same time zone and hemisphere as I am. Because I’m too self-centred to care about anybody else), and what better thing to do than get yourself some nice mulled wine, sit back, relax, and play with the most recent RC kernel?” Some readers might question whether this is truly the most relaxing course of action, but nobody can fault Linus for trying to motivate developers to spend some holiday time testing code.

The 3.8 merge window was, according to Linus himself, the biggest merge window in the 3.x kernel series so far (in terms of raw number of changes going into the kernel codebase). It will contain a number of new and exciting features. Two that interest this author in particular are the support for transparent huge zero pages, and newly added support for the AllWinner ‘A1X’ series of system-on-chip ARM processors.

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