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The Year in Operating Systems: No battle of big ideas

Small change for 2009

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Only two weeks ago, Novell's hybrid NetWare-Linux operating system, Open Enterprise Server, was updated with the SP2 patch. Looking ahead, SLES 11 is expected some time in the first half of 2009, and presumably based largely on the openSUSE update rumored to be coming out later this week.

Novell has not said much about SLES 11, except that it will use the Linux 2.6.27 kernel and the Xen 3.3 hypervisor. SLES 11 is expected to have the OpenAIS cluster communication protocol for server and storage clustering as an alternative to the Oracle Cluster File System 2 already in SLES 10. Also planned is the OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution (OFED) software stack, which will provide open-source drivers for Ethernet and InfiniBand networks that implement the Remote Direct Memory Architecture (RDMA) protocol for more efficient communication between machines.

Furthermore, SLES 11 will have support for distributed replicated block device (DRBD). This is like RAID 1 mirroring for storage devices at the network abstraction level instead of at the array level down inside the server or storage system.

Canonical's Ubuntu was updated in late October with the 8.10 release, or Intrepid Ibex. Ubuntu is aimed at developers and other Linux enthusiasts as well as end users looking for an alternative to Windows so this release focused on a problem area for Linux: WiFi and 3G network connectivity.

Ubuntu 8.10 was based on the Linux 2.6.27 kernel and one of its development, not long-term support, releases. Canonical spins desktop and server editions of Ubuntu, and the server edition of 8.10 recommended using KVM for what the company calls "single host server virtualization."

For data center-class virtualization, Canonical recommendded using VMware's ESX Server or Citrix Systems' XenServer, which have snapshotting, live migration, and other high availability features that KVM does not yet have.

Canonical has been mum about what it will do to support Hyper-V thus far, other than to say that it is not currently in the plans.

Ubuntu 9.04, the Jaunty Jackalope release, is expected around April 2009 and the first alpha release came out at the end of November. Boot and overall system performance improvements are at the top of the list of features developers are putting together for this release.

Interestingly, Ubuntu 9.04's desktop variant is expected to run on ARM-based netbooks and to have a bunch of power management features to keep networks and processors from burning so much juice.

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