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Linux Fans Greet New Kernel Release, Version

A new version of the Linux kernel has been released, adding support for virtualization and showcasing the use of a new release-management tool developed by Linux inventor Linus Torvalds himself.

Availability of the new release, dubbed version, was announced Sunday in an e-mail posted to an Internet mailing list by Chris Wright, a member of the so-called "stable team" responsible for the kernel. The kernel is expected to wend its way into full-blown distributions of Linux available from major vendors in the latter half of the year.

"It's a significant release," said Bill Weinberg, architecture specialist at the Open Source Development Labs, the Beaverton, Ore.-based Linux consortium. "What makes it important are two things: the inclusion of Xen, and the fact that it's built on the new release management tool, called Git, that Linus put together the last couple of months with some other people." ("Git" doesn't stand for anything in particular, Weinberg added.)[Update: On Wednesday, Bill Weinberg said that, contrary to his earlier information, Xen is not yet integrated into the new kernel, however, developers hope to merge the Xen patch late this summer.]

Most previous versions of the kernel relied on a program called Bitkeeper to keep track of code and related patches. However, earlier this year BitMover, the supplier of the program, decided to stop supplying the program for free to the Linux kernel developers, citing support costs. Torvalds subsequently began work on Git.

"When Linus began developing Git, there were fears, in the press and in industry, that it would slow down the release cycle," explained Weinberg, noting that there were concerns in some quarters that work on Git would distract Torvalds from his core job of overseeing kernel releases. "So to some degree this release is a proof point that it did not slow them down, even if they did have to learn to use a new tool while they were debugging [the kernel]," Weinberg said.

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