Linus Torvalds: Linux Kernel 4.0 ‘Happening In A Year Or So’

The major release is likely to focus on stability, not new features

Linus Torvalds, the creator of the open source Linux OS, said that kernel 4.0 is likely to be an update dedicated to fixing numerous existing bugs rather than introducing new features, with a major change in version number motivated by purely practical considerations.

“We’re getting to release numbers where I have to take off my socks to count that high again,” wrote the developer in a regular Linux kernel mailout. “At some point we’re going to cut over from 3.x to 4.x, just to keep the numbers small and easy to remember. We’re not there yet, but I would actually prefer to not go into the twenties, so I can see it happening in a year or so, and we’ll have 4.0 follow 3.19 or something like that.”

Torvalds also warned that the merge window for version 3.13 will be delayed by about a week, due to his travelling arrangements and the lack of time.

The Linux 3.12 kernel was released on Sunday.

“Just a number”

Last month at the LinuxCon EU conference in Edinburgh, Dirk Hohndel, chief Linux and open source technologist at Intel, suggested a release dedicated exclusively to stability and bug-fixing. Torvalds criticised the idea at the time, saying that most kernel developers wouldn’t have the attention span required, and would get side-tracked by building new features.

linux mascotHowever on Sunday, Torvalds said he started to see the benefit of the idea, admitted he could have been “unfairly projecting his inner squirrel” and even referred to himself as a “woodland creature”.

The lead developer said that the Linux community has given upon feature-related releases anyway, and suggested version 4.0 could indeed only accept patches that fix existing bugs, as long as the community has enough heads-up.

Torvalds also warned that the two-week merge window for 3.13 will begin next Sunday, since he will have to travel for a week with limited access to the Internet. “That also means that I will be doubly disappointed in anybody who then leaves their merge request until the *end* of that two-week merge window,” he added.

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