It's always strikes me with awe whenever a new version of the Linux kernel is released. The hours of work that developers put into this product is just kind of mind blowing especially when you consider that a lot of the work is done by volunteers. With the newest release, Linux is once again moving forward at a pace unmatched by its open source peers.
Linux 3.4 features a few updates to Btrfs. The first is the availability of a new data recovery tool called btrfs-restore. It's worth pointing out that it doesn't repair damaged filesystems, but rather attempts to pull files from damaged filesystems and copy them to a safe location. Btrfs can also support metadata blocks bigger than 4KB again. It can support blocks up to 64KB, but it's recommended that you stick with 16 or 32KB blocks.
Other general improvements for Btrfs come in the form of performance and error handling. The performance has been improved thanks to not only the increased metadata block sizes, but also a reworked Linux page cache and reduced CPU usage. Previous versions of Linux featured code functions that couldn't handle certain unexpected conditions. During such an event, previous versions would just kill the system. In Linux 3.4, it's been updated to handle these situations by shutting down current transactions and the filespace moving into read-only mode as is tradition.
What has me personally excited is support for the new wave of video cards. The new version of Linux now has early support for the Nvidia GeForce 600 series. On top of that, the new GPUs (Radeon 7000 series) and APUs (Trinity) from AMD are now supported. The new release also adds experimental support for Intel GMA500 Medfield graphics.
Support for new GPUs is especially good news since Valve has now committed to bringing Steam and their games to the Linux platform. EA has also brought some free-to-play games to Linux. More and more developers are seeing the value in developing for Linux and we may soon see a day where not only indie developers release Linux versions of titles, but major publishers do as well.
One of the more interesting updates is the addition of a new X32 ABI. It allows users to run programs in 64-bit mode with the memory requirements of a 32-bit ABI. It was created because traditional 64-bit programs run in 64 bits of space. This causes performance slowdown, but switching back to 32-bit denies access to all the great features of 64-bit. The new ABI should make Linux users' lives much easier.
Other general improvements include x86 CPU driver autoprobing, a verifiable boot path, support for external read-only devices as origin source of a thin provisioned LVM volume, a new 'Yama" security module, and read only support for QNX6 filesystems.
To see more of the specifics with this latest release, check out the release notes for version 3.4. I don't think you'll be disappointed with this latest release.[h/t: LKML via Softpedia]