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Four key new features in Linux 3.6

Included in this new version are a Windows-like 'hybrid sleep' capability along with a feature that can speed page loads by up to 41 percent

Just a little more than two months after the release of version 3.5, Linux creator Linus Torvalds on Sunday unleashed the next new version of the Linux kernel.

Perhaps most notable among several key new features in Linux 3.6 is "hybrid sleep," a capability much like one that has long been offered by Microsoft's Windows.

"When I did the -rc7 announcement a week ago, I said I might have to do an -rc8, but a week passed, and things have been calm, and I honestly cannot see a major reason to do another rc," Torvalds began in the official announcement. "So here it is, 3.6 final.

"The changes in 3.6 since 3.5 are too many to list," Torvalds added. "There haven't been any huge new architectures or filesystems, it's all 'solid progress.' That may not sound all that exciting, but the devil is in the details, and there's a lot of small fixes all over."

Ready for a quick rundown? Here are a few of the highlights.

1. Hybrid sleep

Offering a combination of sleep mode and hibernation, what's commonly known as "hybrid sleep" involves both copying the contents of RAM to the hard drive, as in hibernation, and then entering sleep mode. The big benefit to using this technique is that the computer can not only resume immediately, but it also won't lose any data if power is lost.

If power is interrupted, the device will resume from the hibernated image; if not, it will resume normally and the hibernation image will be discarded. In Linux 3.6 this feature was added primarily with portable devices in mind, according to the official release notes.

2. 'TCP Fast Open'

"TCP Fast Open" is a Google-developed feature that tweaks the process of establishing a TCP connection so as to make it quicker in certain cases. In Linux 3.6, there is now support for this feature on the client side; server support is still to come. The result, according to the release notes, can be speed improvements of between 4 percent and 41 percent in page load times on popular websites.

3. More and better drivers

Linux kernel updates pretty much always add a raft of drivers for better hardware support, and Linux 3.6 is no exception. Of particular note among those included in this release are drivers targeting Sony and Apple vendor-specific devices.

4. Improved memory management

Among several changes designed to improve memory management, finally, is a new feature that allows swap read-ahead IOPS (input/output operations per second) to be merged, thereby improving throughput while also lowering CPU consumption.

Of course, this is just a tiny sampling of all the changes included in this new release. For a full listing, visit the release notes on KernelNewbies.org.

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