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Faster Linux Kernel Has Disaster Relief Mesh

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The new Linux kernel has speed improvements but also has relevance for disaster relief teams

Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, has announced the release of Linux kernel 2.6.38, which comes with a process grouping patch and a new Virtual File System, amongst several other enhancements.

The new version has a “wonder patch” which makes it handle processes faster, as well as a mesh system, which goes by the name of Batman, that could  come to the aid of distressed citizens round the world.

Wonder Patch For Faster Execution

The talked-about feature of this iteration is the “patch that does wonders”. This wonder patch is an automated process grouping system which effectively manages CPU time allocation. Each process running on the system is allocated to a session ID group which determines its processing priority. According to the Linux Foundation, this improves the efficiency of the operating system and prevents process queues from holding back the overall execution of the numerous tasks Linux has to perform.

Torvalds blogged that his favourite improvement is the massive change to the virtual file system (VFS). The VFS path lookup feature and directory cache have been improved to improve their performance.

In the Linux Kernel Mail List, Torvalds wrote of these changes: “They did end up causing some breakage… but on the whole I think it was surprisingly smooth. I think we had more problems with random other components (nasty memory corruption in networking, etc) than with the rather fundamental path lookup change.”

“So I’m hoping this ends up being a fairly calm release despite some really deep changes like that,” he added.

The Linux team claims that the VFS improvements not only make multi-threaded workloads more scalable, but can also improve execution speeds of single-threaded applications that make many look-up calls.

Meanwhile a very topical – and interestingly-named – addition is the Batman (Better Approach To Mobile Ad-hoc Networking) mesh protocol. This is said to be particularly useful in emergency situations – such as disaster relief work where an existing infrastructure might be damaged or destroyed

Batman is a routing protocol optimised for decentralised ad hoc networks without a central control system. It works as a mesh, or net, of devices which all act as nodes of equal status. As these nodes cannot rely on a pre-existing infrastructure, each device participates in the routing process as a kind of router. In this way, data for specific nodes is forwarded across the web-like network dynamically, or “mesh-style”.

The official source code for the Linux 2.6.38 kernel can be downloaded from Linux Kernel Archives. Commercial Linux distributions will be updated to incorporate the kernel but time to market may vary.