Linux 3.7 released, bringing generic ARM support with it


Good news for Linux users—Linux creator Linus Torvalds has announced that the newest version of the Linux kernel, Linux 3.7, will provide generic support for multiple ARM CPU architectures, reducing the amount of effort required to get Linux-based operating systems running on phones, tablets, and ARM-licensed developer boards.

“In this release, the Linux ARM implementation has added multi-platform support—the ability to build a single ARM kernel image that is able to boot multiple hardware. This will make much easier for distributors to support ARM platforms,” said Kernel Newbies.

“After an extra rc release, 3.7 is now out. After a few more trials at fixing things, in the end we ended up reverting the kswapd changes that caused problems. And with the extra rc, I had decided to risk doing the buffer.c cleanups that would otherwise have just been marked for stable during the next merge window, and had enough time to fix a few problems that people found there too,” Torvalds said to those on the Linux Kernel Mailing List.

The current release’s list of supported ARM architectures focuses overwhelmingly on server-oriented products, although Linux 3.7 is laying down the groundwork for support with consumer products that also use ARM CPUs, such as Android-based smartphones and tablets, which tend to be a few kernel updates behind. This is the first step toward making ARM support more like x86 support—it may soon be possible to install operating systems on ARM-powered devices without the messy work of the current architecture-specific porting process.

Another notable addition to Linux 3.7 is 64-bit support for the newest ARM CPU model. “The newest ARM CPU model, ARM v8, adds 64-bit memory addressing capabilities for first time for the ARM world. The new 64-bit CPUs can run 32-bit code, but the 64-bit instruction set is completely new, not just 64-bit extensions to the 32-bit instruction set, so the Linux support has been implemented as a completely new architecture,” Kernel Newbies also says.