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Linux Kernel Matures to Version 3.0 in Weeks Before 20th Birthday

The Linux kernel leaped forward today from the previous 2.6.xx-series to what might seem like an entirely new generation of the OS' code-base. But was the release really that significant?

Members of the Linux kernel developers mailing list were sent an announcement from the chief author of the original Linux kernel himself, Linus Torvalds. In the letter, Torvalds described exactly why he insisted that the Linux kernel version be updated to reflect Version 3.0 with the operating system's latest release.

It is not unusual for developers to become disenchanted with a versioning scheme further into the life-cycle of the product. What seems like the right fit at one point in time, eventually evolves to become something perceived as inconvenient by the developers who come along later in the life-cycle and have to maintain it. While there has been no changing of the guard at the top of the Linux developer tree (Torvalds still directly participates in guiding much of the development), many new programmers have entered the participatory circle since the OS' inception. 

The truth is, the step-up to Version 3.0 is almost entirely a numbering scheme change and little else. This version of the Linux kernel has improved handling for virtualization and an update to the file-handlers. It also contains a number of driver updates, but that is the norm for Linux because almost all drivers are developed by the maintenance community as few vendors post their own Linux drivers for their retail hardware. While there are value-added updates and fixes in the code, they are not of a nature outside the norm of an incremental update in the release cycle fro Linux.

The rest of the developer community has been echoing Torvald's statements, that no end-users should be holding onto the expectation that there is more in the 3.0 kernel than they are accustomed to seeing in terms of updates. The new numbering scheme will reduce the number of indices in a version designation, from X.X.X.X down to X.X.X.

Linux will remain on its 8 to 12 week release cycle for version updates. The operating system will enter its 20th year in existence on the 25th of August.



Linus Torvalds, original chief author of the Linux Kernel


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Jerry Myers, 2011-07-24 (Update: 2012-05-26)