Zack's Kernel News

Zack's Kernel News

© Linux Magazine Exclusive

© Linux Magazine Exclusive

Article from Issue 96/2008



The Linux kernel mailing list comprises the core of Linux development activities. Traffic volumes are immense, often reaching ten thousand messages in a given week, and keeping up to date with the entire scope of development is a virtually impossible task for one person. One of the few brave souls to take on this task is Zack Brown.

Our regular monthly column keeps you abreast of the latest discussions and decisions, selected and summarized by Zack. Zack has been publishing a weekly online digest, the Kernel Traffic newsletter for over five years now. Even reading Kernel Traffic alone can be a time consuming task.

Linux Magazine now provides you with the quintessence of Linux Kernel activities, straight from the horse's mouth.

Supporting More Real-Time Clock Chips

Steven A. Falco has added support for the ST M41T65 real-time clock chip. Because this is very similar to the M41T80, which already has a driver, it was decided to just extend the existing driver. Alessandro Zummo and Maciej W. Rozycki both pointed out that this would be best for code maintenance, although if larger changes were needed later, it might be OK to split out the drivers into a common portion and several satellite portions.

More Wifi Adapters Supported

Tomas Winkler of Intel announced that he'd modified the iwlwifi driver to support the Wifi Link 5000 and 5100 series adapters. This was very welcome news to Will Simoneau, whose new Sager laptop came equipped with a 5300 card; he helped Tomas track down a bug in the code that Tomas had known about but had been unable to reproduce on his own hardware.

Reporting BIOS Bugs

Thomas Renninger wants to introduce an interface to report BIOS bugs to the user. The basic idea is that ACPI, PCI, and other subsystems can introduce BIOS bugs that the kernel has to sanity-check.

Thomas wants to have the kernel log the results of these sanity checks. This way userspace programs would be able to respond better to BIOS bugs, vendors would have an easier time testing, and users would have a better sense of how to proceed when they encountered system problems, as Thomas pointed out.

Andi Kleen was in favor of the general idea and offered suggestions for some implementation changes, whereas Bjorn Helgaas felt the whole thing might be a case of over-engineering.

The work required to maintain all the specific log output would be intense and would also be prone to rapid aging. Andi just wasn't sure the benefits would be worth it. But his misgivings didn't prevent him from offering up a variety of implementation suggestions. So it does seem as though this idea will be going forward.

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