Torvalds posted the 3.0 RC1 as a 93 MB download on the kernel.org mailing list at about 6 pm PST, marking a major new phase for the open source operating system. There has been a debate for some time whether it was time to move up from the 2.6 versioning, possibly to 2.8, for some time. The general notion among Linux kernel contributors has been that it would be a good time to leave some of the old and no longer needed features behind along with the 2.6 version number.
A commit from Torvalds confirming the 3.0 RC1 version number was posted earlier today, while the actual snapshot followed a few hours later. Torvalds did not initially comment on the version number but simply stated: “Version numbers? We can increment them!” He downplays the move a bit, but it is a big move for the software that has symbolic character as Linux is now moving into its third decade. Torvalds announced Linux on August 26, 1991. Version 2 of the Kernel was released in 1996. Several Linux developers have asked for kernel version numbers that have stronger times to specific dates. It seems that version 3 arrives just in time for another 10 years of Linux kernel releases.
There are several new features in Linux 3.0, including a Microsoft Kinect Linux driver, support for cleancache, updated graphics drivers, optimizations for Intel platforms (Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge) as well AMD’s Fusion APUs. In a following official announcement (we were made aware that lkml is hard to reach. Here is the cached link), Torvalds stated that, despite “the usual two thirds driver changes” and random fixes, this version is “just” about renumbering: “We are very much *not* doing a KDE-4 or a Gnome-3 here,” Torvalds wrote. No breakage, no special scary new features, nothing at all like that. We’ve been doing time-based releases for many years now, this is in no way about features. If you want an excuse for the renumbering, you really should look at the time-based one (“20 years”) instead.”