When a new stable mainline kernel is released by Linus or GregKH, we internally build RPMs to test it and do some QA work around it to keep track of what's going on with the latest development kernels. It helps us understand how performance moves up or down and if there are issues, we try to help look into them and of course send that stuff back upstream. Many Linux users out there are interested in trying out the latest features but there are some potential barriers to do this.
(1) in general, you are looking at an upstream development distribution, which means that everything changes both in userspace(random applications) and kernel. Projects like Fedora are very useful and someone that wants to just see how the entire distribution evolves with all the changes, this is a great way to be current. A drawback here, though, is that if you have applications that are not part of the distribution, there's a lot of manual work involved or they might just not work because the changes are too drastic. The introduction of systemd is a good example.
(2) when you look at many of our customers, that are interested in our database products or applications, the starting point of having a supported/certified userspace/distribution, like Oracle Linux, is a much easier way to get your feet wet in seeing what new/future Linux kernel enhancements could do.
This is where the playground channel comes into play. When you install Oracle Linux 6 (which anyone can download and use from http://edelivery.oracle.com/linux), grab the latest public yum repository file http://public-yum.oracle.com/public-yum-ol6.repo, put it in /etc/yum.repos.d and enable the playground repo :
name=Latest mainline stable kernel for Oracle Linux 6 ($basearch) - Unsupported
There is of course a big, very important disclaimer this is NOT for PRODUCTION use.
We want to try and help make it easy for people that are interested, from a user perspective, where the Linux kernel is going and make it easy to install and use it and play around with new features. Without having to learn how to compile a kernel and without necessarily having to install a complete new distribution with all the changes top to bottom.
So we don't or won't introduce any new userspace changes, this project really is around making it easy to try out the latest upstream Linux kernels in a very easy way on an environment that's stable and you can keep current, since all the latest errata for Oracle Linux 6 are published on the public yum repo as well. So one repository location for all your current changes and the upstream kernels. We hope that this will get more users to try out the latest kernel and report their findings. We are always interested in understanding stability and performance characteristics.
As new features are going into the mainline kernel, that could potentially be interesting or useful for various products, we will try to point them out on our blogs and give an example on how something can be used so you can try it out for yourselves.
Anyway, I hope people will find this useful and that it will help increase interested in upstream development beyond reading lkml by some of the more non-kernel-developer types.