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Bits from the kernel team


Half-way between the sarge release and the etch freeze the Debian kernel
team takes a look back at what already happened after the sarge release
and what you should expect for etch.

As of 2.6, we have a unified source package from which kernel images
and headers for every architecture are built.  This change to a unified
package since the linux-2.6.12 release makes it easier to keep up with
upstream.  We expect that it will also allow much easier security builds
for etch.  All Debian architectures are supported in 2.6, with mips/mipsel
joining with the release of 2.6.16.

The most user visible change is that kernel-image-2.6-$flavour has been
renamed to linux-image-2.6-$flavour. We provide transition packages using
the old naming scheme to allow upgrades from sarge.

As mentioned above, we are tracking upstream closely.  Usually, the latest
upstream release reaches unstable almost on the day of its release.
Experimental acts as staging area, where the -rcX kernels are built.  If
you want to be on the cutting edge, Bastian Blank provides daily builds
out of the debian-kernel repository [1].

There has been lots of excitement around the x86 SMP alternatives patch,
which would allow to reduce the current number of flavors. SMP hardware
would just be a special case of hotplug CPUs. The uniprocessor flavors
would also support SMP and the SMP ones could be dropped. On the feature
side there is work going on to add VServer, Xen and UML flavors to
linux-2.6.  Most legacy Debian specific patches have been cleared, the
bulk of the current patchset is arch specific. 2.6 arch support is growing
from release to release, so those patchsets should be of no concern.

2.6 Linux features initramfs, which contains the boot-relevant drivers.
Currently there are two different supported tools for generating the
initramfs: initramfs-tools and yaird. initramfs-tools allows a more
generic boot image by design and thus is the default. See for details [2].

Bug reporting
Since newer kernels still fix more bugs than they create we encourage
testing of latest -rcX kernels in experimental. If the bug you are seeing
is fixed in them there is no need to open a bug report against previous
2.6 as we will rebase every new upstream release. If your bug is
reproducible in the latest -rcX use reportbug and don't forget to add the
relevant details like latest known good (full dmesg, lspci, ..). This will
allow upstream to be made aware of regressions.

If you have an old open bug against an earlier 2.6 revision please test
against the latest version and provide feedback of your findings.

Dann Frazier, Simon Horman, and Moritz Muehlenhoff are doing a marvelous
job in scanning and testing all CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and
Exposures, a unique ID for security issues) which get issued against the
Linux kernel.  The second round of the sarge Debian kernel is prepared [3]
and has been submitted to the stable security team. You won't believe it,
but there is even a round for woody prepared [4].

End of line
linux-2.4 is officially deprecated.  After having several releases where
your Linux kernel choice was as wide as stretching between 2.2 - 2.6 it is
finally time to concentrate on 2.6 only.  Currently Simon Horman does a
bulk of linux-2.4 upstream security support and testing against latest
CVEs.  Almost no other vendor provides 2.4 security support and it is
unreasonable to even think about that burden in the etch time frame.

As of linux-2.6.12 the i386 flavor and support has been dropped and the
386 flavor got renamed to 486. Sarge has no official 386 support,
although it should mostly work there.

The Debian Linux kernel handbook [5] contains lots of information about
the Debian Linux kernel packages, recommended procedures, and other
Debian-specific kernel-related information.  There you'll also find some
practical chapters like "Filing a bug against a kernel package".  The
kernel-handbook is currently a "work in progress", so any contributions,
suggestions and corrections are very welcome.  They should be submitted to
the kernel-handbook mailing list [6].

  Bastian Blank

Debian Kernel Team

[1] deb http://kernel-archive.buildserver.net/debian-kernel trunk main
[2] http://wiki.debian.org/InitrdReplacementOptions
[3] http://wiki.debian.org/DebianKernelSargeUpdateStatus
[4] http://wiki.debian.org/DebianKernelWoodyUpdateStatus
[5] http://kernel-handbook.alioth.debian.org/
[6] kernel-handbook-general@lists.alioth.debian.org

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