Linus Torvalds has just announced that the second Release Candidate for Linux Kernel 3.17 has been released and it's now ready for testing.
Users have been used to receive updates about the most advanced branch of the kernel on Sundays, but Linus delayed the announcement a little while so that it would be in sync with the 23rd anniversary of the Linux kernel.
On August 25, 1991, Linus Torvalds sent a message asking for help in testing a new operating system that apparently didn't have any kind of future. It was designed for a very limited set of hardware and it was started as a hobby. No one really saw it coming, but 23 years later, the Linux kernel is the biggest collaborative project, open source or otherwise.
“So I deviated from my normal Sunday schedule partly because there wasn't much there (I blame the KS and LinuxCon), but partly due to sentimental reasons: Aug 25 is the anniversary of the original Linux announcement (‘Hello everybody out there using minix’), so it's just a good day for release announcements.”
“Anyway, for being an rc2 it's pretty small, and I can always hope that things stay that way. It's about 60% drivers (drm, networking, hid, sound, PCI), with 15% filesystem updates (cifs, isofs, nfs), 10% architectures (mips, arm, some minor x86 stuff) and the rest is ‘misc’ (kernel, networking, documentation),” wrote Linus in the email announcement.
It's not very difficult to anticipate when a stable Linux kernel will arrive, but you also have to take any problems that might come up into consideration. If nothing extraordinary happens, the kernel development cycle only takes 8 or 9 weeks, but there have been times when it took a little longer than that.
The Linux developers are working towards a new major release in the series, which might be called Linux kernel 4.0. This is supposed to be an ultra-stable version of the kernel that focuses more on bug fixing than anything else. It might arrive once the devs go through the kernel versions up to 3.20, but nothing is set in stone.
A complete list of changes, improvements, and fixes can be found in the official changelog. You can download Linux kernel 3.17 RC2 right now from Softpedia.
Remember that this is a development version and it should NOT be installed on production machines. It is intended for testing purposes only. Do not install it unless you really know what you are doing.