Linux 5.11 Is Heavy On New Features, Improvements For 2021

Written by Michael Larabel in Software on 27 December 2020 at 10:49 AM EST. Page 2 of 2. 13 Comments.

I/O / Storage:

- Performance improvements and other enhancements to Btrfs.

- F2FS now supports per-file data compression and both casefolding and encryption on the same data.

- XFS now allows flagging file-systems in need of repair and to not mount those flagged file-systems until the user-space XFS repair utility has been run on them.

- More VirtIO-FS performance improvements.

- OverlayFS support for unprivileged mounts.

- Bug fixes for EXT4.

- TIF_NOTIFY_SIGNAL should help with IO_uring performance.

- SD Express support.


- VirtIO-MEM "Big Block Mode" is now supported for allowing device block sizes that can exceed the size of a single Linux memory block.

- Xen security fixes for recent advisories around triggering OOM behavior and privilege escalation and information disclosure issues.

- AMD SEV-ES host support for KVM.


- Intel WiFi 6GHz band support (WiFi 6E) within the IWLWIFI driver.

- The Qualcomm Ath11k driver now supports Fast Initial Link Setup (FILS).

- WiMAX support is being demoted to staging with Linux developers ultimately looking to remove the WiMAX support if no users appear.

- Faster ChaCha and AEGIS128 crypto performance for ARM network packets.

More Hardware:

- Finally a MIPI I3C Host Controller Interface driver after the I3C HCI 1.0 specification came out back in 2018.

- USB4 and Thunderbolt improvements including Intel Maple Ridge support and a new driver for testing if USB4 / Thunderbolt ports are functional.

- Sound support for Intel Alder Lake.

- Pioneer DDJ-RR DJ controller support.

- Support for Guitar Hero Live PS3 / Wii U dongles.

- Lenovo ThinkPad palm sensor detection support was added by Lenovo.

- Dell is now exposing some configurable BIOS settings via sysfs to allow manipulating some Dell settings via Linux.

- The start of seeing early bits around PCI Express 6.0.

- Corsair Power Supply driver for higher-end Corsair power supplies exposing various sensor metrics over USB.

- Other hardware monitoring improvements including the Apple SMC driver finally supporting Intel-based Xserve servers.

- VP8 video decoding for Allwinner Cedrus media driver.

- Intel's Habana Labs preparing for new hardware support.

- Support for newer ASUS gaming laptop keyboards.

Other Happenings:

- Auxiliary Bus is a new kernel bus introduced.

- Syscall User Dispatch has been merged with the initial use-case for intercepting system calls made by some Windows programs under Wine so they can be easily intercepted with low overhead. This stems from some newer Windows games trying to bypass the Windows API in the name of copy protection schemes.

- Linux input now has an "inhibited" feature for disregarding input from select devices like on convertible/2-in-1 notebooks when the keyboard is folded away to temporarily disregard all input from it.

- A SECCOMP filter performance speed-up.

- Removal of the Qt4 support with the Kconfig build system UI. Qt5 is required if wanting to use the Qt Qconf interface for configuring your kernel build switches along with other toolkit options like ncurses and GTK.

- Continued crackdown on user-space poking CPU MSRs.

- A new driver for supporting a budget-friendly LCD character display to serve as a console output device.

Linux 5.11-rc1 should be out in the coming hours. The stable Linux 5.11 release should happen before the end of February. This is the kernel version likely to be powering Ubuntu 21.04, Fedora 34, etc. Stay tuned for more Linux 5.11 benchmarks coming in looking at the new features and regressions like in the area of the AMD frequency invariance situation.

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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