The Best Features Of The Linux 5.6 Kernel From WireGuard To Y2038 Compatibility To USB4

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 28 March 2020 at 04:14 PM EDT. 29 Comments
The Linux 5.6 stable kernel could be released as soon as tomorrow if Linus Torvalds is comfortable with its current state to avoid having an eighth weekly release candidate. Whether Linux 5.6 ends up being released tomorrow or next weekend, this kernel is bringing many exciting changes.

We have our Linux 5.6 feature overview that was published at the end of the merge window for those wanting a lengthy look at all of the kernel highlights. But for those short on time or less concerned about all the finer details of Linux 5.6, here are the biggest highlights:

- WireGuard was finally mainlined for this secure VPN tunnel functionality without relying upon any out-of-tree kernel module.

- Initial USB4 support was contributed by Intel, based on their existing Thunderbolt driver code.

- Linux 5.6 is the first kernel that is ready for 32-bit systems to operate past the Year 2038 problem. But there still is more work to happen in user-space for addressing Y2038 compatibility, but at least now the kernel is in good standing.

- The AMD k10temp driver was overhauled by the community in now allowing initial support for voltage/current reporting on Zen CPUs and better thermal reporting in general for AMD Zen / Zen 2 CPUs.

- AMD TEE was merged in providing Trusted Execution support for AMD APUs.

- AMDGPU DRM driver improvements like AMD Pollock enablement, reset support for Renoir and Navi hardware, and other fixes.

- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2000 "Turing" open-source support on the Nouveau driver paired with the proprietary firmware images. But re-clocking doesn't yet work and the Gallium3D OpenGL pieces still need to come together, not to mention the lack of a Nouveau Vulkan driver.

- Async DISCARD support for Btrfs in offering better performance.

- Experimental transparent file-system compression support for F2FS.

- Linux 5.6 has mainline support for the Amazon Echo smart speaker, albeit not too useful by itself with just the kernel portion and not trivial to load up your own Linux stack on the device.

- A fix for ASUS laptops with AMD Ryzen processors to avoid over-heating and severe down-clocking issues.

- The FQ-PIE packet scheduler was merged for reducing bufferbloat in the networking code.

- The VirtualBox Shared Folder driver was finally mainlined for improving the out-of-the-box VirtualBox guest support.

See our Linux 5.6 feature overview for a larger look at what is new and changes with the 5.6 kernel.

Once Linux 5.6 is released, the Linux 5.7 merge window will open. Once again, there is a lot coming for Linux 5.7.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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