Version 3.3 of the Linux kernel was released on Sunday, adding support for a new processor architecture, re-integrating the Android code base back into the main line, and introducing networking improvements.
A virtual switching package called Open vSwitch was added to the new variant of the kernel, in a move meant to provide more robust VM configuration options compared to the existing Linux bridge.
This could be particularly helpful to companies that maintain heavily virtualised environments. Combined with improvements in the way Linux handles complex network traffic, this could make version 3.3 a substantial step forward for the data centre.
Support for the Texas Instruments C6X family of single- and multiple-core processors was also integrated into Linux 3.3, as was a new type of bootloader that allows a single kernel image to be used for both EFI and BIOS.
However, the most notable change may have been the reincorporation of most of the Android mobile platform back into the main Linux tree. The decision to do so was reached at the Kernel Summit in December 2011, according to LWN, which added that the move came as something of a surprise.
The full release was expected roughly a week ago, but kernel maintainer Linus Torvalds imposed a slight delay, saying that a number of minor issues needed to be addressed.
"Things did indeed calm down during the last week," he wrote in the announcement.