Linux Kernel Released With Virtualisation Boost

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Linux 3.1 includes support for OpenRISC, NFC, Wii controllers and advanced virtualisation features

Linus Torvalds on Monday released the latest version of the Linux kernel, Linux 3.1, adding advanced virtualisation features, support for the open source OpenRISC processor architecture, near-field communications (NFC) and support for Nintendo Wii motion-control devices, among other features.

Torvalds released the new code in conjunction with the Kernel Summit in Prague. It is the first release since the recent security breach at kernel.org, which ordinarily hosts the kernel code-base. The kernel is to be hosted at GitHub while kernel.org undergoes a security overhaul.

Delay

The development of the kernel took about three months, slightly longer than the previous release due to the kernel.org breach.

Linux 3.1 adds nested virtualisation to the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor, a feature based on AMD’s Nested VMX technology, which allows one virtual machine to be run within another.

The new kernel will also give KVM a performance boost by allowing it to make use of the Supervisory Mode Execute Protection (SMEP) feature in Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors.

The new kernel will allow virtual machines running under a Xen hypervisor to directly access devices on a PCI bus, and will add Xen’s balloon driver for adjusting the memory usage of a virtual machine.

Support for the Wii remote controller could allow gesture-based controls to become more widely supported in games or other applications.

Linux 3.1 will run on 32-bit OpenRISC 1000 processors, the first time OpenRISC has been supported. OpenRISC aims at developing a series of general-purpose RISC processors based on open source principles. The new kernel also supports Oracle’s SPARC-T3 processor.

The kernel adds support for 3D acceleration to several GeForce graphics processors and brings in updated drivers for broader hardware support.

Kernel.org breach

Kernel.org was hacked around the time Linux celebrated its 20th anniversary on 25 August. In a post on the site, the organisation admitted that “a number of servers in the kernel.org infrastructure were compromised”.

Following the breach, the kernel team took the affected systems offline, backed them up and re-installed them. It re-installed all of the kernel.org servers just to be sure that there is nothing unknown to them lurking on any other parts of the infrastructure.

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