Zack's Kernel News

Community Notebook: Kernel News

Article from Issue 123/2011
Author(s):

Chronicler Zack Brown reports on the latest news, views, dilemmas, and developments within the Linux kernel community.

Premium Real-Time Mode Support

Vernon Mauery submitted his IBM Real-Time “SMI Free” mode driver for inclusion in the official kernel. The driver would provide a SysFS interface to switch the entire system into and out of IBM Premium Real-Time Mode (PRTM) on x86 hardware that supports it. This functionality would allow user code to disable System Management Interrupts (SMIs), thus allowing the code to decouple itself from the operating system’s normal security and resource allocation controls and interact directly with the hardware in otherwise impossible ways. This feature can do lots of fun things. It can provide an environment for real-time applications to run without fear of being interrupted; it can allow debuggers to do neat stuff; and it can allow really spectacular security breaches on the system.

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    The Linux kernel mailing list comprises the core of Linux development activities. Traffic volumes are immense, often reaching ten thousand messages in a given week, and keeping up to date with the entire scope of development is a virtually impossible task for one person. One of the few brave souls to take on this task is Zack Brown. Our regular monthly column keeps you abreast of the latest discussions and decisions, selected and summarized by Zack. Zack has been publishing a weekly online digest, the Kernel Traffic news letter for over five years now. Even reading Kernel Traffic alone can be a time consuming task. Linux Magazine now provides you with the quintessence of Linux Kernel activities, straight from the horse’s mouth.

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