Linux in The News 2-28-22

Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by KC7NYR

Is Intel about to make a significant Linux move

Linutronix acquisition aims to revitalize a key Linux kernel project.

Intel has quietly acquired a German software developer with the aim of bringing fresh life to a key, decades-old Linux kernel project.

In a blog post, vice president and general manager of system software engineering at Intel’s Software and Advanced Technology Group, Mark Skarpness revealed that the company had acquired the German firm Linutronix which provides services for Linux-powered industrial systems and also specializes in real-time Linux applications.

While neither Intel nor Linutronix disclosed the financial terms of the deal, the acquisition is a sign that the chip giant wants to further commit to an incredibly important yet often overlooked Linux kernel project.

Industrial Linux

According to Intel, Linutronix is the “architect of PREEMPT_RT (Real Time)” and this patch set can be used to make low-latency communication possible between controllers, sensors, robots and tooling and other equipment in real-time industrial applications running on Linux.

When enabled, PREEMPT_RT changes the way the Linux kernel handles interrupts and locks to allow threads to to get additional time on a CPU core with little latency. As a result, developers can use it to configure the Linux kernel for real-time use-cases without having to worry about out-of-tree patches, new kernel versions or other disruptions resulting from new point releases.

Revitalizing a key Linux kernel project

Despite its usefulness in Linux-powered industrial systems, like other open source software projects, PREEMPT_RT maintained by a small group of core developers. Up until now, the project has lacked enough contributors and funding to be integrated with the main Linux kernel. Still though, companies having been building products that use this patch and the number doing so will likely increase with Intel’s backing.

Skarpness provided further details on Intel’s plans for Linutronix going forward in his blog post announcing the acquisition, saying:

“By acquiring Linutronix, we are deepening our long-standing relationship with a highly respected team of globally recognized Linux experts, adding to the remarkable breadth and depth of Intel’s hardware and software talent. Linutronix will continue to operate as an independent business within our software division, led by Egger and Gleixner.”

In a statement to The Register, Skarpness confirmed that Intel intends to continue to support the PREEMPT_RT project as the company believes it is a “critical piece of technology that’s going to be used in a lot of places”.

We’ll likely hear more regarding Linutronix and Intel’s plans for PREEMPT_RT once the acquisition is complete.


LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) 5 Beta Is Now Available for Public Testing

The upcoming LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) 5 operating system release is now available for public beta testing ahead of the final release in March 2022.

Based on the Debian GNU/Linux 11 “Bullseye” operating system series and powered by the long-term supported Linux 5.10 LTS kernel series, the LMDE 5 “Elsie” distribution comes with the updated software stack present in the Linux Mint 20.3 “Una” release and the latest Cinnamon 5.2 desktop environment by default.

Work on LMDE 5 kicked off in early January 2022, shortly after the release of Linux Mint 20.3, which is derived from the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) operating system series, but it’s built on top of a Debian GNU/Linux 11 base mostly for Linux Mint developers to test the compatibility of their own software stack with Debian GNU/Linux in preparation for the next major Linux Mint release, Linux Mint 21.

But besides the Debian Bullseye base and the newer Linux 5.10 LTS kernel, there’s literary no difference between LMDE 5 and Linux Mint 20.3.

“The result is a little bit underwhelming because it just looks and feels like Linux Mint 20.3. Under the surface, though, it features a Debian 11 base whose software is more recent than Ubuntu 20.04 and which gives us a preview of some of the challenges we’ll face in Linux Mint 21,” said Clement Lefebvre.

Without further ado, if you want to take the LMDE 5 beta release for a test drive, you can download the official live ISO images for 64-bit or 32-bit systems right now.