The 10 Most Interesting Features Of Linux 5.10
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 8 December 2020 at 07:00 AM EST. 8 Comments
LINUX KERNEL --
With the Linux 5.10 kernel expected to be released this weekend, here is a look at some of the most interesting changes and new additions. Besides being the last kernel release of 2020, Linux 5.10 is significant in that it's also serving as a Long Term Support (LTS) release.

After the Linux 5.10 merge window closed in October we published our Linux 5.10 feature overview. But for those short on time or just wanting a quick refresher about this upcoming kernel release, here is a look at the Linux 5.10 material I find most interesting rather than being an exhaustive list. Linux 5.10 is one of the largest kernel releases in recent time, so with that here are ten interesting features found in this kernel:

- Continued work around bringing up Intel's forthcoming Rocket Lake and Alder Lake hardware. Intel Meteor Lake also saw some activity with Linux 5.10.

- AMD Zen 3 temperature monitoring now works on Linux with the k10temp driver as well as some other lingering Zen 3 additions but nothing that is critical for operation. The Ryzen 5000 series has been running great on Linux 5.8~5.9 as well with all core functionality being present.

- On the Intel graphics side they have landed more Gen12 / Xe Graphics fixes, enablement specific to the Rocket Lake usage, and other changes. There is also related work like HDMI audio output support now working for the Intel DG1 discrete graphics card.

- AMDGPU DC display support for GCN 1.0 "Southern Islands" graphics processors. AMDGPU DC for GCN 1.0 was one of the lingering missing items that remained for potentially enabling AMDGPU support by default for GCN 1.0/1.1 era hardware in place of the Radeon DRM driver. The last apparent blocker though is the lack of analog output support with AMDGPU DC and so for that no default change has been made. Those with these aging Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cards and other select GCN 1.0/1.1 products can boot their kernel with "amdgpu.cik_support=1 amdgpu.si_support=1 radeon.cik_support=0 radeon.si_support=0" to enjoy the AMDGPU kernel driver by default that also means working Vulkan support, possible performance improvements, and just enjoying the more modern code-base.

- Raspberry Pi VC4 support is now present in the mainline Linux kernel. This Raspberry Pi 4 display support is finally ready and nice to see -- the timing works out well with Mesa 20.3 having introduced the V3DV Vulkan driver for Raspberry Pi 4 support there.

- SLDT and STR instruction emulation with UMIP (User Mode Instruction Prevention)... Or the short explanation is help any few games run on Wine/Proton with modern processors (AMD Zen 2 or Intel Cannon Lake and newer) if they happen to make use of the Store Local Descriptor Table Register and Store Task Register instructions.

- The XFS file-system now supports timestamps to the Year 2486. This is to overcome the prior limitation of Year 2038 and one of the few remaining Y2038 issues within the kernel.

- The Creative Labs SoundBlaster AE-7 sound card is finally supported under Linux thanks to the work of the open-source community.

- Nintendo Switch controller support with Linux 5.10 thanks to the new Nintendo HID driver, another open-source community creation. Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons and Pro controllers should be working in both USB and Bluetooth modes under Linux as well as features like rumble support and gyro data. The driver previously has been available out-of-tree as a DKMS module.

- There are a number of security improvements with hardening against possible DMA attacks by external PCI Express devices, the "nosymfollow" mount option that is similar to what has been offered on BSDs for years, Linux 5.10 including a new static_call() function for helping in cases affected by Retpolines, and the ARM Spectre mitigations were rewritten as part of their "Ghostbusters" work.

See our complete Linux 5.10 feature overview for more details. Linux 5.10.0 should be out on Sunday, 13 December, barring any last minute issues coming up this week that would warrant instead an eighth weekly release candidate. Once Linux 5.10 ships, it's onward to the Linux 5.11 merge window.
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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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