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Latest Linux kernel 3.3 comes with added Android

Two becoming one in forking reunion

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The latest kernel update for Linux has been released, and features supporting Android are back for the first time since 2010, along with improved processor and networking support.

"For a long time, code from the Android project has not been merged back to the Linux repositories due to disagreement between developers from both projects," the release notes state. "Fortunately, after several years the differences are being ironed out. Various Android subsystems and features have already been merged, and more will follow in the future. This will make things easier for everybody, including the Android mod community, or Linux distributions that want to support Android programs."

The Linux team has been looking at reintroducing Android since December, after the acrimonious split in 2010. After the last kernel summit in Prague, Tim Page set up the Android Mainlining Project and called for developers. The new kernel features have focused on putting enough code in to allow smooth cross-platform development and interoperability between Linux and the current version of Android.

The reunion is a sign that the Linux hierarchy have recognized that they can't ignore the success of Android much longer, both in tablets and smartphones – something Ubuntu and others have recognized already. But it's also going to cause a few problems with the purists, since there are concerns at how quickly Google will release source code for its latest Android builds. But at least developers will have more paid opportunities to code.

Elsewhere on the software front, the kernel adds Open vSwitch, which sets up network interfaces between virtual machines and migrates VMs between systems while keeping the addresses, firewall rules, and open connections. It also fully supports OpenFlow. Better buffering has also been included, along with better traffic control and TCP handling.

The new kernel has also increased its processor footprint, with support for Texas Instruments c64x+ and c66x embedded processors, which are used in base stations, printers and medical units, according to TI. Such systems are an increasing part of the Linux market, and more support in this area is expected.

There was an unexpected extra release candidate stage with this build to resolve arch/tile defconfig changes, but it's now cleared for use, Linux creator Linus Torvalds announced on Sunday. The window for 3.4 is now open, he said, but warned he'd be away taking his kids out on Spring Break for the next few days. ®

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