Open Source

Jargon Watch: Open source, kernel, and SMP

Before you catch the Linux wave, be sure to catch on to some Linux terms. Mary Ann Fitzharris defines the open source movement, the kernel, and symmetric multiprocessing (SMP).

Linux is experiencing strong momentum as an alternative operating system. Let’s catch the wave and examine some of the concepts that make Linux so popular: the open source movement, the kernel, and symmetric multiprocessing (SMP).

Open source
Open source is the source code of a program freely available to the entire software development community via the Internet. The rationale behind the “freely shared” concept is that a broader group of programmers will ultimately produce a better product, with developers from around the world distributing their results to others.

UNIX and Linux are the most celebrated open source codes. Retailers are taking the open source code for Linux, making improvements, adding some support features, and selling their versions of Linux. When Netscape suffered from competition with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in 1998, the company revealed the code for its browser, Netscape Communicator, making it open source. For more information, visit .

Corel adds features to its version of Linux
“Corel will develop a version of the open source operating system that is easy for users to set up, with automatic hardware detection and configuration and a feature that allows users to download the latest updates from the Internet.”

Corel to offer Linux for desktops ,” by James Niccolai

The kernel is the core of an operating system. It provides basic services for all its parts. Kernel is a term used more often in the UNIX/Linux environment than with other operating systems. Because the code that makes up the kernel is needed continuously, the kernel resides in memory at all times and is protected so that it will not be overlaid with other, less frequently used parts of the operating system.

Red Hat adds SMP support to Linux kernel
“Red Hat Linux 6.0 includes the Linux 2.2 kernel, the most recent kernel available. The updated version of the popular open source operating system also includes symmetrical multiprocessing support for use on servers with up to four processors, as well as two new graphical user interfaces that eliminate the need to type in commands.”

IBM, Dell make Red Hat Linux announcements ,” by Nancy Weil

SMP (symmetric multiprocessing)
SMP means one cabinet holds multiple CPUs that share a common OS and memory for processing. It is used to dynamically balance the workload among computers. A single copy of the OS—Linux or Windows, for instance—is in charge of all the processors. SMP provides scalability and speed. SMP was pioneered on UNIX platforms but is also available on Linux, Windows NT, OS/2, and NetWare.

Vendors cooperate in developing high-end SMP for Linux
“Some of the thornier enterprise problems such as high-end SMP and high-availability clustering have been overcome through cooperative efforts among hardware and software developers, and ‘this type of development differs significantly from the largely insular conditions in which Linux-oriented developers have historically operated,’ the report concluded.”

Linux: Not yet ready for the enterprise, report says ,” by Nancy Weil

Ifyou have a word that needs to be defined or any comment about our weekly efforts to enlighten through Jargon Watch, pleasesend us ane-mail .

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