The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) on Monday launched test9, the latest beta of the Linux 2.6 kernel. Developers and hardware manufacturers are being encouraged to download it, test it out, and report their findings to OSDL.
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The desktop version of Linux 2.6 will make it easier to swap mice, keyboards and other peripherals. The current commercial version of the open-source operating system is Linux 2.4 Even numbers signify a commercial release while odd numbers, such as 2.5, mean a development version.
"Now is when we want big companies and software vendors to step in and hammer on the kernel, so we can get their ideas into the final production release of 2.6 Linux," Linus Torvalds, an OSDL fellow, said in a statement. "This is their last big chance."
There is no definitive release date for the kernel. Linux gurus Andrew Morton and Torvalds will have the ultimate authority as to when the kernel is complete, but it is expected by the end of the year, slightly, an OSDL representative said. The first test version came out in July.
Linux is being widely adopted by businesses in several industries, such as finance and banking, as a cost-effective replacement for servers that run Windows or Unix. A number of companies, including IBM, Red Hat, Hewlett-Packard and, are members of OSDL.