Linus Torvalds, founder and leader of the Linux operating-system project, released version 2.5.2 of the "kernel," or core software, Monday, including initial support for USB 2.0.
USB 2.0 enables data-transfer speeds of 480mbps; 40 times the speed of the USB 1.1 that prevails in today's computers and peripheral devices, such as printers or digital cameras.
Microsoft has written support for USB 2.0 and made the software available to computer manufacturers (and it got leaked...), but the latest operating system, Windows XP, doesn't support the technology yet. An update will be available later this year for Windows XP to support USB 2.0.
Though the USB 2.0 support is built into the 2.5 version, a software patch for the present 2.4 version also is available. This "backporting" technique is a common way to move features tested in the development version into the production version.
One other notable change to the kernel in 2.5.2 is a new "scheduler" (an essential part of an operating system that keeps track of what processes are underway). The scheduler, introduced by Red Hat employee Ingo Molnar, is intended to improve performance on high-end servers with many processors.
News source: CNet News