From The Linux Perspective: What I Am Most Looking Forward To In 2019

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 2 January 2019 at 09:00 AM EST. 50 Comments
With 2019 started and also the 15th year since starting, what am I most excited for in 2019 from a Linux/open-source perspective? Here is a look at what has me motivated for the year ahead.

WireGuard In The Kernel - WireGuard sadly didn't make it into the mainline Linux kernel in 2018 as they hoped to, but it's looking like it will for sure make it in this year... WireGuard is the very promising open-source secure VPN tunnel that is already available for other operating systems / platforms and has the out-of-tree DKMS kernel module working quite well for upping network security. WireGuard is already offered by some VPN providers and I am quite excited to see how far its adoption will go this year.

Open-Source FSP - At last month's Intel Architecture Day, one of the findings that excited me as much as all of the juicy hardware information was hearing from Raja Koduri that he is hoping to see the Intel FSP open-sourced. If this can be accomplished this year, it will be super exciting and a win for those wanting to have more of their system open-source while allowing for better security.

The Continued Rise Of Vulkan - In 2018 there was the release of Vulkan 1.1, continued Vulkan driver improvements, a growing number of open-source Vulkan projects, more game studios and companies looking at Vulkan, Linux game ports continuing to be Vulkan-only, and other milestones reached around this industry graphics and compute API. This year I am looking forward to seeing more Vulkan-powered games and especially the rise of translation layers like DXVK that map Direct3D 11 to Vulkan, VKGL, and others. Hopefully in 2019 VKD3D will be in good standing for taking Direct3D 12 API calls to Vulkan. On a similar note, I am also quite excited for OpenCL-Next and that NVIDIA should be supporting this next-gen version of OpenCL after not fully supporting the current OpenCL 2.x releases.

Intel Icelake "Gen 11" Graphics - While we need to wait until at least next year before seeing the Intel "Xe Graphics" discrete hardware, this year we should finally be seeing Icelake for better graphics compared to the current HD/UHD Graphics that have basically been the same the past few years. The Linux driver support appears to be in good standing for Icelake so as soon as the new CPUs begin shipping, the open-source driver should be ready to shine with great OpenGL and Vulkan support on the Linux desktop.

AMD EPYC 2 - I'm still enjoying the current-generation EPYC processors and all of their compute potential, but super excited to see what comes of the next-generation EPYC processors due out this year.

Linux 5.0 - After Linus Torvalds didn't relabel Linux 4.20 as Linux 5.0 as he once planned, he said he would be releasing Linux 5.0 in 2019. It's possible even he's going to rename Linux 4.21 to Linux 5.0 when issuing the first release candidate this coming weekend. But, anyhow, it's just a number and doesn't really reflect any dramatic underlying changes.

GTK+ 4.0 - Delayed from this past fall, the initial GTK4 release is expected this spring. GTK4 has a Vulkan back-end, audio/video playback integration, Wayland improvements, improved HTML5 Broadway back-end, layout improvements, OpenGL enhancements, and a ton of other work.

Raptor Blackbird - Raptor Computing Systems' lower-cost Blackbird micro-ATX board will be shipping soon for offering a lower-cost, fully open-source POWER9 system that is open down to the BMC, similar to the high-end Talos II. (Now that the holiday benchmarking and other EOY business is through, I'll be having more Talos II Linux tests shortly.)

Continued Performance Improvements - There are still various patch series not merged yet for trying to offset some of the performance losses imposed in 2018 by Spectre/Meltdown mitigations. Separately we may see more optimization work for modern x86_64 processors now that most Linux distributions are stepping away from 32-bit ISO releases. Intel's Clear Linux also continues tapping a lot of performance potential out of today's hardware. Long story short, 2019 will be interesting to see what comes of Linux performance.

Open-Source FreeSync Support - Support for AMD FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync was merged to the mainline Linux 4.21 kernel in the final days of 2018 and the Mesa bits since merged to Mesa 19.0. When Linux 4.21 ships in late February or early March, FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync support with Radeon GPUs will finally be easily supported from the Linux desktop.

Mesa 19 - Mesa 19.0 has already been in development on Mesa3D Git master for a while with more OpenGL/Vulkan gaming improvements, performance optimizations, and other bits. Hopefully one of the Mesa 19.x releases this year will deliver on the OpenGL 4.6 work that's long been pending due to being blocked by finishing up the SPIR-V ingestion support. The Nouveau SPIR-V/compute work by Red Hat will likely be merged. It will also be interesting to see what else comes to Mesa 19.x this year -- we know a lot will come, it's just a matter of what.

Those are the most prominent items I am most excited for right now about the year ahead and keeping me motivated particularly on the Linux front. Stay tuned for what is sure to be an exciting year ahead. In the forums feel free to comment on this article with your own hopes and expectations for 2019.
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Michael Larabel

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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