Linus Torvalds released Linux 4.3-rc1 yesterday, a day earlier than planned, to ward off any subsystem/driver maintainers from sending in last-day pull requests. With the merge window now closed for Linux 4.3, here's a look at our highlights for the new and improved functionality of this next Linux kernel release.
DRM / Graphics:
- Intel Skylake Graphics "Gen9" are enabled by default. Up to now support for these latest-generation Intel processors was hidden behind a "preliminary hardware support" kernel command-line option while the support was baking. See our Intel Skylake HD Graphics 530 benchmarks on Linux to know how the performance compares. There's also our recent Open-Source Linux Driver Comparison: Skylake HD Graphics vs. Radeon Gallium3D.
- Initial open-source support for the AMD R9 Fury "Fiji" graphics processors. However, this initial support doesn't yet have any re-clocking / power management so the performance remains quite slow for now. You'll also need to be on Mesa 11.0+ for using the AMDGPU accelerated graphics.
While there's now basic open-source R9 Fury support complementing the poor Catalyst driver support, I wouldn't yet recommend these new, expensive GPUs for Linux use.
- A big rework of the Nouveau DRM driver for open-source NVIDIA graphics support. There's also been some re-clocking improvements for select GPUs and other changes. However, there doesn't appear to be any performance improvements or regressions out of Nouveau on Linux 4.3.
- OpenGL 3.3 support for VMware. With the Linux VMWgfx kernel driver plus Mesa 11.0+, when using VMware Workstation 12 there will now be OpenGL 3.3 support exposed to Linux guest VMs rather than OpenGL 2.1.
Disk / File-Systems:
- The EXT3 driver has been removed as support for existing EXT3 file-systems can be handled by the EXT4 driver. There was some debate whether to nuke the EXT3 driver but in the end it was proved that EXT4 can reliably handle EXT3 file-systems without breaking compatibility, etc.
- Many fixes for XFS.
- Btrfs RAID 5/6 and TRIM fixes plus other minor improvements.