Several agencies have reported on the recent agreement to drop a large amount of code from the Linux kernel, but it now looks like the kernel’s size reduction will be even greater than anyone previously imagined. Release number 4.18-rc1 is just the latest step toward a leaner core package. Most notably, all LustreFS code has gotten dumped out of the kernel.
Critics have raised the concern that installations relying on Lustre as a distributed file system will have to move to other structures that weren’t designed for larger cluster deployments. While few corporate and home installations have ever made use of LustreFS, it powers massive platforms that need to link a multitude of storage devices.
Proponents of removing LustreFS from the kernel point to the fact that Intel is phasing out their commercial support business and this already helped to reduce the importance of it in the big iron world. Others have pointed to how Lustre never left the staging area of kernel development because it couldn’t pass code reviews.
Some individuals have pushed for a new development philosophy where everything wouldn’t have to be in the same source tree. This could prevent this kind of thing from happening to future file system modules. Those who continue to need support for Lustre can still install the out-of-tree source code and continue using it in the future. The same goes for many other less common storage structures that 4.18-rc1 doesn’t natively support.
Other staging-level code was also purged out of the kernel, though again few end-users would have come into contact with the modules that are getting the boot. This kernel cycle has lead to the expulsion of over 107,000 lines of code so far.
This is in spite of several new features developers have added in. For instance, the Valve Steam Controller has received some fresh support, which should be welcome news for games. Linux security experts have praised a mitigation the new kernel added to prevent exploits related the ARM Spectre vulnerability.
Encryption support for the Speck file system also pleased some security experts, including those who’ve been skeptical about ext4 fscrypt technology.