In a sign that the Linux 2.6 kernel is nearing its final release date, Australian embedded Linux vendor, SnapGear, has said that it has become the first vendor to include Linux 2.6 in a commercial product.
SnapGear Embedded Linux version 3.0, a Linux distribution developed for specialised devices such as MP3 players or gas station monitoring equipment, was the first shipping commercial product based on the 2.6 kernel, the chairman of the 45-person Linux company, Bob Waldie, said.
The company's Linux distribution, that began shipping on Monday, is based on the 2.6.0-test5 Linux kernel.
Though the Linux kernel was still considered beta software, only a few minor issues remain to be solved before it would be considered production-ready, the developer in charge of maintaining the 2.6 kernel. Andrew Morton, said.
"2.6 is stable," he said. "I've been running it on my machine for a year and never had any issue with it, aside from the occasional glitch."
Morton expects those final glitches to be worked out, and the production-ready version of Linux 2.6 to ship by year's end at the latest.
"A few months ago I'd have said 'by September,'" he said. "I'd be offended if we didn't have 2.6.0 out the door by year end."
Larger vendors such as Red Hat or SuSE Linux AG would take longer than SnapGear to support version 2.6 of the kernel because they have a lot of non-standard add-ons to the 2.4 kernel that would have to be integrated into their 2.6-based products, Morton said.
"They have gone and made a tremendous number of changes to the 2.4 kernel, particularly in their enterprise products," he said. "They're going to have to sit down and work out what features they want to drop."
Red Hat and SuSE have said they expect to ship products based on the 2.6 kernel some time next year.
SnapGear was quick to support Linux 2.6 because the new version of the kernel includes support for smaller microprocessors that do not have memory management units, Waldie said.
SnapGear Embedded Linux 3.0 also tooks advantage of the 2.6 kernel's improved support of encryption hardware, he said.