The Linux Kernel Made Terrific Strides In 2020
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 1 January 2021 at 12:26 PM EST. 1 Comment
LINUX KERNEL --
The Linux kernel in 2020 saw lots of new features added and other functionality improved while continuing to generally keep pace with punctual new hardware support.

For a look back at the great kernel changes of the past year, for some New Year's Day reading/entertainment, below is a look back at the most popular Linux kernel news stories.

The AMD Radeon Graphics Driver Makes Up Roughly 10.5% Of The Linux Kernel
Given the impending release of Linux 5.9, I was having some fun with cloc today looking at the current lines of code count for this near-final Linux 5.9 kernel state.

Linus Torvalds Just Made A Big Optimization To Help Code Compilation Times On Big CPUs
For those using GNU Make in particular as their build system, the parallel build times are about to be a lot faster beginning with Linux 5.6 for large core count systems. This landing just after the AMD Threadripper 3990X 64-core / 128-thread CPU launch is one example of systems to benefit from this kernel change when compiling a lot of code and making use of many GNU Make jobs.

Torvalds' Comments On Linux Scheduler Woes: "Pure Garbage"
As you may recall a few days ago there was the information on the Linux kernel scheduler causing issues for Google Stadia game developers. The scheduler was to blame and in particular Linux's spinlocks. Linus Torvalds has now commented on the matter.

Linus Torvalds Doesn't Recommend Using ZFS On Linux
Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds doesn't recommend using ZFS On Linux at least until Oracle were to re-license the code to make it friendly for mainline inclusion. But even then he doesn't seem turned on by the ZFS features or general performance.

Google Publishes Latest Linux Core Scheduling Patches So Only Trusted Tasks Share A Core
Google engineer Joel Fernandes sent out the ninth version of their "core scheduling" patches for the Linux kernel that allows for allowing only trusted tasks to run concurrently on the same CPU core -- in cases where Hyper Threading is involved to safeguard the system against the possible security exploits.

The New Microsoft exFAT File-System Driver Is Set To Land With Linux 5.7
Linux 5.4 brought a preliminary Microsoft exFAT file-system driver after Microsoft made the exFAT specification public and encouraged the support for Linux. But with the Linux 5.7 kernel this spring, a new exFAT file-system driver is going to land that is a much improved version of the earlier code.

Torvalds Blasts "Beyond Stupid" Flushing L1d On Context Switches - Reverts Code For Now
As part of the initial set of changes merged today for Linux 5.8 was the x86/mm material that included the controversial feature of opt-in flushing of the L1 data cache on context switching. Linus Torvalds ended up deciding to revert this functionality as for now at least he views it as crazy.

Linux 5.8 Set To Optionally Flush The L1d Cache On Context Switch To Increase Security
The Linux kernel patches that have been spearheaded by Amazon AWS engineers to optionally flush the L1 data cache on each context switch have now been queued in the x86/mm branch ahead of the upcoming Linux 5.8 kernel cycle.

XFS File-System With Linux 5.10 Punts Year 2038 Problem To The Year 2486
Not only is Btrfs seeing notable improvements with the in-development Linux 5.10 kernel but the XFS file-system also has some prominent changes of its own.

The Linux Kernel's Scheduler Apparently Causing Issues For Google Stadia Game Developers
Among the issues that game developers have been facing in bringing their games to Linux for Google's Stadia cloud gaming service apparently stem from kernel scheduler issues. We've known the Linux kernel scheduler could use some improvements and independent developers like Con Kolivas with BFS / MuQSS have pushed for such, but hopefully in 2020 we'll see some real action.

The Linux Kernel Enters 2020 At 27.8 Million Lines In Git But With Less Developers For 2019
As of this morning in the Linux kernel Git source tree, the kernel weighs in at 27.8 million lines!

Linus Torvalds' Initial Comment On Rust Code Prospects Within The Linux Kernel
Kernel developers appear to be eager to debate the merits of potentially allowing Rust code within the Linux kernel. Linus Torvalds himself has made some initial remarks on the topic ahead of the Linux Plumbers 2020 conference where the matter will be discussed at length.

The Linux Kernel Deprecates The 80 Character Line Coding Style
The Linux kernel has officially deprecated its coding style that the length of lines of code comply with 80 columns as the "strong preferred limit".

Former Linux Developer Hans Reiser To Remain Locked Up
Hard to believe that former Linux developer Hans Reiser was already eligible for parole, but it was denied this month. The former developer responsible for creating the once-promising ReiserFS and Reiser4 file-systems will remain locked up for at least three more years.

Cachy Is The Latest Effort To Provide A Better Linux CPU Scheduler
Cachy is a Linux CPU scheduler that has been generating some attention over the past month that aims for optimal CPU cache usage and based on a Highest Response Ration Next (HRRN) policy.

Linux To Begin Tightening Up Ability To Write To CPU MSRs From User-Space
The Linux 5.9 kernel is slated to begin introducing new restrictions on allowing writes to CPU model specific registers (MSRs) from user-space.

Linux 5.6 Is Looking Like It Will Be Spectacular With A Long List Of Features
Linux 5.5 is likely to be released later today and with that are many new features. But as soon as 5.5 is released it marks the opening of the Linux 5.6 merge window and this next kernel has us particularly exciting... It's certainly shaping up to be one of the most exciting kernel cycles in recent times with many blockbuster features and improvements.

Linux Patch Proposed To Double Raspberry Pi 4 Transfer Speed To eMMC/SD Storage
Manjaro Linux developer Tobias Schramm brought to light that only single data rate mode is currently being used for micro SD cards and eMMC storage with Raspberry Pi 4 Model B SBCs. But with a two line kernel patch, the double data rate mode can be enabled.

Linux Developers May Discuss Allowing Rust Code Within The Kernel
A Google engineer is looking to discuss at this year's Linux Plumbers Conference the possibility of allowing in-tree Rust language support.

The Time Namespace Appears To Finally Be On-Deck For The Mainline Linux Kernel
Back in 2018 a time namespace was proposed for the Linux kernel and now in 2020 it looks like this kernel functionality will be merged for mainline, likely with the upcoming Linux 5.6 cycle.

Western Digital Proposes Zonefs File-System For Linux 5.6
One of the last features to land today for Linux 5.6 ahead of the merge window closure is Western Digital's Zonefs file-system.

Linux 5.9 Brings Safeguard Following NVIDIA's Recent "GPL Condom" Incident
Stemming from the recent discussions over NVIDIA NetGPU code that relied on another shim for interfacing between NVIDIA's proprietary driver and the open-source kernel code, a new patch is on the way for Linux 5.9 to fight back against such efforts.

Btrfs Async Discard Support Looks To Be Ready For Linux 5.6
After months of work by Facebook engineers, it looks like the new async discard support for Btrfs is ready for the upcoming Linux 5.6 cycle as a win for this Linux file-system on solid-state storage making use of TRIM/DISCARD functionality.

Linux 5.5 Ready To Shine With Navi Overclocking, Raspberry Pi 4 Support, Wake-On-Voice
Everything is aligning that the Linux 5.5 kernel is likely to be released this coming Sunday rather than being pushed off for another week of testing.

Thanks Oracle! New Patches Pending Can Reduce Linux Boot Times Up To ~49%
While many don't look upon Oracle's open-source software contributions too eagerly, some new patches out by their team can dramatically benefit Linux kernel boot times and they are working on getting it upstream. The numbers are already very promising and further work is also underway to make the improvement even more tantalizing.

FAT File-System Driver For Linux Sees Patch To Run Multiple Times Faster
At the same time of Linux receiving a new exFAT driver, the Linux kernel is still seeing improvements to its classic FAT file-system code.

Kernel Developers Work To Block NVIDIA "GPL Condom" Effort Around New NetGPU Code
Linux kernel developers are working on tightening up the access around GPL-only kernel symbols and kernel shims that interface with proprietary kernel modules. This latest work is being driven by code recently put out for improving the Linux networking code where NVIDIA's proprietary kernel driver would be the initial consumer.

Red Hat vs. SUSE vs. Canonical Contributions To The Mainline Linux Kernel Over The 2010s
After last week looking at the AMD/Intel/NVIDIA contributions to the mainline Linux kernel over the past number of years, there were reader requests for seeing how some of the top distributions compare namely Red Hat, SUSE, and Canonical.

Linux 5.6 Is The First Kernel For 32-Bit Systems Ready To Run Past Year 2038
On top of all the spectacular work coming with Linux 5.6, here is another big improvement that went under my radar until today: Linux 5.6 is slated to be the first mainline kernel ready for 32-bit systems to run past the Year 2038!

New Linux System Call Proposed To Let User-Space Pin Themselves To Specific CPU Cores
A "pin_on_cpu" system call has been proposed for the Linux kernel as a new means of letting user-space threads pin themselves to specific CPU cores.
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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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