Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2015 12:21 pm

Significance of Linux Kernel releases

Mon Dec 12, 2016 3:07 pm

I recently read that the Linux Kernel 4.9 release introduced support for ARM powered devices including the Raspberry Pi Zero. That got me thinking and brought me to the realisation that there's a huge gap in my knowledge on the effort people go through to get operating systems running on the Raspberry Pi. I'm extremely grateful to mpthompson and plugwash for Raspbian although have no real insight on the number hoops they had to jump through.

What is the significance of the most recent Linux Kernel release to the O/S end users? In my limited understanding it appears to be that when redhat or slackware release a distro based on linux 4.9 it will have the armel support built in but they will still have to go through a packaging and testing exercise to certify support.

Is the main advantage with the most recent kernel that fewer custom drivers have to be written, tested and packaged in the distros for getting them running on a Pi?

Posts: 685
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 12:00 am

Re: Significance of Linux Kernel releases

Tue Dec 13, 2016 1:01 am

may be BRANCH=next will be 4.9 soon?

Posts: 7839
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:30 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Significance of Linux Kernel releases

Tue Dec 13, 2016 7:37 am

The Raspberry Pi foundation maintains their
own fork of the Linux kernel. People have been
upstreaming (parts of) it for years but it is a slow process.

So for Raspbian users little will change since the official
images use the downstream foundation kernel which gets
bugfixes and gets tuned by Raspberry Pi engineers directly.
They also update the fork to newer upstream versions
(like 4.9) regularly which is what very few vendors do.

Hopefully , someday Raspbian/Pi users can use the unmodified
upstream kernel. This would be especially important for
people who want to use unmodified Linux Distributions ,
e.g. Debian from debian.org or CentOS.

See also :

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Raspberry Pi Engineer & Forum Moderator
Raspberry Pi Engineer & Forum Moderator
Posts: 21653
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2011 7:41 pm

Re: Significance of Linux Kernel releases

Tue Dec 13, 2016 10:23 am

There is a concerted effort to get as much as possible upstreamed, or use as much as possible from upstream. This makes future porting work much easier.
Principal Software Engineer at Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd.
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