A month of the Hurd: official Xen domU support, DDE, porting, and FOSDEM 2010.

This month Samuel Thibault merged his development branch into GNU Mach's master branch -- meaning that his GNU Mach Xen domU port is now part of the official sources. Only the microkernel (GNU Mach) needed to be extended, and no changes were needed in the Hurd, or glibc code bases. He had started this port in 2007 already, but it has been in heavy use over the last two years already, so merging it into the main source bases was long overdue.

He also got the necessary Xen patches committed into Xen's unstable branch, so that from Xen's 4.0 release on you'll be able to boot GNU/Hurd systems using pv-grub, without the need to prepare a special bootstrap image (like an initrd).

Of course, running GNU/Hurd systems in other virtualization environments is possible too, but the Xen domU approach offers superior performance compared to QEMU's machine emulation, for example.

Samuel also spent some time on adding code for detecting invalid (duplicate) port deallocations, and started fixing these, as well as he fulfilled his usual share of miscellaneous bug fixing.

The DDE port of Zheng Da now passes the first tests, bringing us the first steps towards updated device drivers -- and much lower overhead for maintaining them.

Now that the Debian GNU/Hurd build stats are again hosted on the master Debian build machine, Debian developers see their packages' build failures more prominently, and quite a few started to fix their packages.

Thus, thanks to the porting work of mainly Emilio Pozuelo Monfort and Pino Toscano, users of the Hurd can get many more packages directly via the Debian GNU/Hurd distribution. Thanks to their and the other porters' relentless work, the percentage of available Debian packages has reached 66%, rising. For a specific example, they ported many GNOME packages, so that the gnome-core metapackage is installable again. Please test these and report back.

Thomas Schwinge started the planning for a GNU Hurd folks meeting at FOSDEM on February 6th/7th 2010 at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

Guillem Jover jumped in and started fixing GNU Mach build warnings -- meaning that Thomas Schwinge's evil plan finally worked out, when he enabled -Wall in an October 2006 commit:

+# Yes, this makes the eyes hurt.  But perhaps someone will finally take care of
+# all that scruffy Mach code...  Also see <http://savannah.gnu.org/task/?5726>.
+       -Wall

The GNU Hurd team wishes a pleasant Year 2010 to everyone!