16 July 2013

Linux 3.11 named Linux for Workgroups in odd homage to its archenemy Windows

Ever the prankster, Linus Torvalds has paid homage to Windows 3.11 by naming Linux 3.11 “Linux for Workgroups.” Tux, Linux’s penguin mascot that appears during boot-up, is now holding a Windows flag (pictured above). This might seem a little odd, given Linux’s reputation as the Windows antithesis, but Linux for Workgroups is actually one of Linux’s saner names. Over the years, the Linux kernel has been lumbered with some amazingly undignified designations, such as Unicycling Gorilla, Erotic Pickled Herring, and Holy Dancing Manatees, Batman!

Windows for Workgroups 3.11 was originally released in August 1993, almost exactly two years after Torvalds first released the Linux kernel to the publicworkgroups of Windows 3.11 PCs, without expensive server hardware and software (at the time provided by Novell). This was a huge shift in the LAN space, which ultimately resulted in Windows utterly destroying every other competitor in the workplace and in institutions.

. Windows 3.11 was essentially an update to Windows 3.1, the first version of Windows to enjoy major adoption. In addition to being more stable, Windows 3.11 introduced a bunch of exciting features, including TCP/IP networking via Winsock. TCP/IP allowed for the creation of peer-to-peer

Other than its name, though, Linux for Workgroups bears no relation to Windows 3.11. The main feature in Linux 3.11, which is currently at the release candidate stage of development, is improved support for the power management features in modern Radeon GPUs (from the 2000-series through the 7000-series), submitted by AMD itself. The kernel also supports Intel’s Rapid Start Technology (RST), Zswap (RAM compression for swap pages), and KVM and Xen virtualization on ARM64 processors. If all goes to plan, the final version of Linux 3.11 should be released in a couple of months, at the start of September. Funnily enough, Ubuntu 13.10 (due out in October) will ship with the Linux 3.11 kernel — which means that the Ubuntu boot screen should feature the new Tux boot icon (pictured right).

Starting with Linux 2.6, most of the Linux kernels have been graced by its custodian (Torvalds) with a stupid name. It isn’t entirely clear why Torvalds started down this road in the first place, but the usual formula of <Adjective> <Animal> is strongly reminiscent of Ubuntu’s code names. It’s easy to see how Ubuntu’s Karmic Koala and Maverick Meerkat inspired Torvalds to come up with such names as Trembling Tortoise and Affluent Albatross. Still, with more recent names such as Sheep on Meth, Man-Eating Seals of Antiquity, and Erotic Pickled Herring, it’s safe to say that Torvalds has left the realm of satire and is now simply having fun.


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