Linux has long been about more than just x86. With the new Linux 3.7 kernel, the open source operating system is improving its multi-architecture support with a significant improvement to the way that ARM support and development is handled.
While x86 architectures and development have been uniform over the years, ARM on the other hand has been fragmented. With the Linux 3.7 kernel, ARM developer Calxeda has helped to lead a charge in bringing a multiplatform ARM kernel to Linux.
The fix delivers a solution to a problem that Linux creator Linus Torvalds clearly articulated during a live Linuxcon session in August of 2011. At the time, Torvalds noted that that the problem with ARM is that it doesn't have a standard platform and that, "…it has random crap all over."
Interest in ARM has been growing significantly in 2012 overall. Linux vendors such as Red Hat, Ubuntu and SUSE all have ARM-related efforts underway. Industry efforts have also recently been driven by the Linaro Enterprise Group, which is pushing ARM development on Linux forward.
Moving beyond architectures, Linux 3.7 now includes full support for NFS v4.1 and experimental support for SMB v2.
While both NFS and SMB are long-standing and well-known protocols for enabling access across a physical LAN, Linux 3.7 also introduces support for the VXLAN virtual LAN tunneling protocol as well. VXLAN was first introduced at the VMworld 2011 conference and is currently going through the IETF for standardization. VXLAN is a layer 2 overlay over a Layer 3 network.
"The driver integrates a Virtual Tunnel Endpoint (VTEP) functionality that learns MAC-to-IP address mapping," Vyatta developers Stephen Hemminger wrote in his commit message.
The Linux 3.7 kernel also provides new layers of security for Linux. Of particular note is support for cryptographically-signed kernel modules.
"If module signing is enabled, the kernel will be tainted if a module is loaded that is unsigned or has a signature for which we don't have the key," Kernel developer Rusty Russell wrote.