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Novell Delivers First 2.6 Kernel Linux

Aiming to fill the vacuum left by Red Hat's abandonment of all but the enterprise, Novell on Thursday unveiled the first retail version of the open-source Linux operating system that's based on the newest Linux kernel.

The 9.1 version of SuSE Linux -- Novell acquired the German Linux distributor last year -- is the first complete commercial Linux distribution to support the 2.6 kernel, said Novell. The 2.6 kernel was released in December 2003.

Turning to the new kernel, said Chris Schlager, vice president of research and development with SuSE AG, gives users a bigger bang for their buck. Among the improvements that 2.6 brings to the table, he said, are overall performance improvements, the ability to power down systems and components (handy for laptops, for instance), and better memory management.

"In general, the overall memory management in 2.6 has been significantly improved," said Schlager. Although the improvements may not as drastic on the desktop, where computers with a gigabyte or less of memory are typical, as on higher-end systems with 4GB or more of RAM, "a 15 to 20 percent performance gain won't be uncommon," he said.

Toggling between multiple windows should be faster on the desktop, and a new feature in the 2.6 kernel that allows for switching between optimized throughput and latency modes make the 9.1 versions of the OS smart for high-end users compiling video content and average users watching on-screen DVDs.

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