LINUX FOUNDER Linus Torvalds has incremented the Linux version number to 3.0.
What was going to become Linux 2.6.40 has, in the blink of an eye or a few clicks of Torvalds' keyboard, become Linux 3.0.0-rc1. There had been talk last year about whether the Linux kernel development team should call time on the 2.6 version of the Linux kernel, with some having suggested that 2.8 should be the next major version number. Now Torvalds has made the decision that the next major Linux kernel release will be 3.0.
In Torvalds' commit statement he said, "Hopefully by the time the final 3.0 is out, we'll have that extra zero all figured out." Not surprisingly Torvalds' commit ushered in the expected arguments of whether the Linux 2.6.40 update could be justified as a big enough revision to warrant a whole new version number.
Torvalds replied on the Linux Kernel mailing list explaining his decision. "I decided to just bite the bullet, and call the next version 3.0. It will get released close enough to the 20-year mark, which is excuse enough for me, although honestly, the real reason is just that I can no longer comfortably count as high as 40." It's hard to argue against the man who invented Linux and still commits a significant amount of code.
As for the big changes, Torvalds said there are none. "Sure, we have the usual two thirds driver changes, and a lot of random fixes, but the point is that 3.0 is *just* about renumbering, we are very much *not* doing a KDE-4 or a Gnome-3 here. No breakage, no special scary new features, nothing at all like that. We've been doing time-based releases for many years now, this is in no way about features. If you want an excuse for the renumbering, you really should look at the time-based one ('20 years') instead."
Torvalds added, "There's absolutely no reason to aim for the traditional '.0' problems that so many projects have." He concluded, "Let's make sure we really make the next release not just an all new shiny number, but a good kernel too."
With Linux distributions packaging kernels without much reference to the Linux version number, the change is most likely going to affect kernel developers more than the majority of end users. Nevertheless, if Torvalds' decision to make a major change to the version number will attract new users to Linux, then it's a wise move. µ