Linux 5.6 Is The Most Exciting Kernel In Years With So Many New Features
Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 9 February 2020. Page 2 of 2. 26 Comments

Virtualization:

- KVM adds protections for Spectre V1 / L1TF combination attacks.

- After being ejected from its short-lived time in Linux 5.4, the VirtualBox Shared Folder driver (VBOXSF) is set to make a return for offering shared folders between guests and the host with Oracle VM VirtualBox where as up to now it has relied upon the out-of-tree Guest Additions package.

- Better AMD APIC virtualization support with Dynamic APICv.

- Continued work on Intel VT-d Nested Mode support.

Networking:

- WireGuard was finally merged for this secure VPN tunnel.

- The first portion of Multi-Path TCP was finally mainlined.

- Intel 2.5G driver performance improvements.

- The FQ-PIE packet scheduler for fighting bufferbloat.

- Intel Virtual Bus support.

- Other networking work like continued advancements to the ath11k code.

General Hardware:

- Initial USB4 support.

- Continued Logitech input device improvements.

- New Qualcomm drivers were mainlined.

- Various laptop quirks.

- Intel continues advancing the Sound Open Firmware.

- The Simple Firmware Interface is finally obsolete.

- A mainline driver for the SGI Octane and Onyx2 keyboard/mouse.

General Improvements:

- The new AMD TEE driver for exposing trusted execution on the Secure Processor with Raven APUs.

- Linux 5.6 is the first kernel for 32-bit systems ready to run past Year 2038 given the Unix timestamp issue. Granted, plenty of user-space software still needs to be updated to handle the Y2038 issue.

- Staging cleaning saw it lightening the kernel by 30k+ lines of code thanks to removing old drivers.

- /dev/random now behaves more like /dev/urandom.

- Linux 5.6 paired with Clang 10 can build a working IBM s390 kernel, joining Arm and x86_64 with the Clang'ing kernel action.

- The new openat2 system call.

- pidfd_getfd ioctl provides new interesting use-cases including for web browsers.

- The time namespace has been added.

- Linus Torvalds himself made a change to the kernel's pipe code that in particular should help with GNU Make parallel jobs performance when compiling code.

Benchmarks forthcoming of Linux 5.6 and other coverage. Look for Linux 5.6-rc1 to be released tonight if all goes well will be released either at the very end of March or more than likely early April.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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