Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Eyes More Industrial Usage By Offering Up Real-Time Kernel Beta

Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 21 April 2022 at 02:28 PM EDT. 27 Comments
One of the less talked about features with Ubuntu 22.04 LTS "Jammy Jellyfish" is Canonical offering up a "beta" of a real-time Linux kernel image for use with this long-term support release. In doing so, Canonical is expanding their aim for Ubuntu Linux within industrial and other use-cases demanding real-time needs.

Currently in beta with Ubuntu 22.04 LTS is the linux-realtime kernel (still stuck in the proposed archive for now) that is the Linux kernel build with the out-of-tree PREEMPT_RT patches applied. This Ubuntu real-time kernel build is being provided both for x86_64 and AArch64 hardware. The aim here by Canonical is to further bolster Ubuntu for use within telco/5G equipment and other industrial systems with low-latency requirements.

Ubuntu has long had the low-latency kernel flavor alternative to their generic Linux kernel image but they have pulled some of that back into the generic package and are now focusing on this linux-realtime alternative. Meanwhile as recently as a few months ago they were talking up their low-latency kernel image as being less intrusive than the PREEMPT_RT work...

Canonical talked up their real-time kernel in today's 22.04 LTS announcement:
Canonical is pleased to announce the Ubuntu 22.04 LTS real-time kernel, now available in beta. Designed to meet telco network transformation needs for 5G, Ubuntu 22.04 LTS with the real-time kernel delivers performance, guaranteed ultra-low latency and security for critical infrastructure. This new kernel also serves latency-sensitive use cases in industrial automation and robotics...

Ubuntu 22.04's real-time kernel packaging work was done in cooperation with Intel -- and ensuring the build works great on Intel platforms given the mutual interests of Canonical and Intel. Back in February Intel acquired Linutronix as the developers behind the PREEMPT_RT patch-set. In recent months more of the real-time patches have been working their way to the kernel while dozens remain out of tree. Hopefully it won't be too much longer before all these real-time patches are mainlined and in turn lower the maintenance burden for Ubuntu and other Linux distributions to offer kernel builds with PREEMPT_RT enabled. Meanwhile on Arch Linux there has long been linux-rt and linux-rt-lts, among other similar options on other select Linux distributions.

The Linux stable RT patch series are available from Kernel.org Git while hopefully soon the code will manage to all be mainlined.
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