Linux 3.0 Hits First Release Candidate

Linux founder Linus Torvalds moves Linux kernel forward with first big number change in over a decade.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted May 31, 2011
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Linux is pervasive in the enterprise networking market, serving as an underlying network operating system and as the operating system on which networking infrastructure including DNS and Web servers often run.

Though Linux kernels iterate at a rapid rate with new features, the numbering system has not advanced as quickly. Linux 2.x was first released in 1996 and the most recent Linux kernel came from the 2.6.x branch, which debuted in 2003. Now Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux has arbitrarily decided that it's time for Linux 3.0.

The last Linux 2.6.x kernel was the 2.6.39 release, which came out in mid-May. Torvalds noted last week that having 2.6.40 was too big a number and he was considering moving to Linux 2.8.

That discussion morphed into a Linux 3.0 discussion as a milestone release signifying the third decade of Linux. This year, Linux is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the debut of the open source operating system.

"I decided to just bite the bullet, and call the next version 3.0," Torvalds wrote in a mailing list posting. "It will get released close enough to the 20-year mark, which is excuse enough for me, although honestly, the real reason is just that I can no longer comfortably count as high as 40."

The Linux 3.0 kernel is not an indicator of a binary compatibility shift or even a notice that major new features are on the way.

"Sure, we have the usual two-thirds driver changes, and a lot of random fixes, but the point is that 3.0 is *just* about renumbering, we are very much not doing a KDE-4 or a Gnome-3 here," Torvalds wrote. "No breakage, no special scary new features, nothing at all like that. We've been doing time-based releases for many years now, this is in no way about features."

Torvalds' announcement about the new number for Linux was accompanied by the first release candidate for Linux 3. According to Torvalds, the bulk of the Linux 3.0 –rc1 release is about driver updates. There are also multiple virtual machine fixes as well as some consolidation for ARM architecture support.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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