Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, has released the Linux 2.4.0 kernel for general use. Now that its testing—which has been extensive because of its long list of improvements and bug fixes—is complete, the new kernel will find its way into general Linux distributions in the near future.
The 2.4.0 kernel supports high-end platforms like IBM mainframes and the Intel 64-bit Itanium. Linux will be available when initial Itanium systems begin shipping. Symmetrical multiprocessing (SMP) support has been upgraded as well. Prior versions had limited scalability, but the new SMP support lets designers integrate dozens of processors. This is important to Linux's success in the enterprise environment.
The kernel's HTTP server delivers static Web pages. Incorporating this support directly into the kernel boosts performance and minimizes overhead. The server does not support dynamic Web-page generation with tools like CGI or PHP, so the Apache will remain the primary Linux-based Web server.
Networking support has been ad-vanced and extended. Gigabit network-interface card support is now available. Problems with the TCP/IP stack support for multiple network-interface cards have been corrected. Universal Serial Bus (USB) and IEEE-1394 support has been refined. Additional revisions show up in RAID and the load volume manager.
Embedded developers will find a better memory management infrastructure, hot-plug PCI support, and other useful improvements. Plug-and-Play support has been enhanced, too.
The source code for 2.4.0 is available at www.kernel.org.