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Linux 3.7 adds major new ARM processor support

The latest version of the Linux kernel, which was released Monday, includes groundbreaking new features making it compatible with the increasingly popular ARM processor architecture.

Linux 3.7 allows distro makers to support multiple ARM platforms in the base kernel -- an important new capability, given that, traditionally, each individual piece of ARM hardware required its own custom kernel version, according to Kernel Newbies.

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"A typical Linux distro for x86 PC computers can boot and work in hundreds of different PC (different CPU vendor, different GPU models, different motherboards and chipsets, etc) using a single distro install media. This ability to be able to boot in different hardware configurations is taken as a given in the PC world. However, it didn't exist in the Linux ARM world," the site notes.

The new version also adds completely redone 64-bit ARM support, rather than simple extensions to the 32-bit architecture. Also new in Linux 3.7 are improvements to the Btrfs file system, one of which should improve performance for several commonly used applications, including Firefox.

Beyond that, Version 3.7 of the kernel provides numerous smaller fixes and improvements. Kernel curator Linus Torvalds said in his announcement of 3.7 that it's been a relatively lengthy process, and that the next merge window would be slightly shorter.

"Anyway, it's been a somewhat drawn out release despite the 3.7 merge window having otherwise appeared pretty straightforward, and none of the rc's were all that big either. But we're done, and this means that the merge window will close on Christmas eve. Or rather, I'll probably close it a couple of days early. For obvious reasons. It's the main commercial holiday of the year, after all," he wrote.

Linux 3.7's eventual release was delayed slightly by the need for an eighth release candidate version. Torvalds said at the time that lingering issues involving the kernel swap daemon necessitated further work.

Email Jon Gold at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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