Linus Torvalds has released the first stable Linux kernel update of 2020, Linux 5.5 – and it’s on schedule despite the worries that downtime over the holidays would have an impact on its release.
The Linux 5.5 kernel update (dubbed “Kleptomaniac Octopus”) brings a host of performance tweaks as well as support for devices like the Raspberry Pi 4 and Broadcom chip BCM2711.
Depending on your use of Linux the increasing support for Intel processor extensions for its x86-64 line could be of note, as the update includes Intel 5-level paging support as default. This has been done in preparation for the release of Intel servers that will have a significant amount of RAM.
See the full list of updates here.
The release comes with a smattering of file system changes to XFS, exFAT, and ext4, while VMs on Microsoft Hyper-V can now hibernate. It also features kernel concurrency sanitizer sets for spotting data race conditions.
Finnish software engineer and principal developer of the Linux kernel Linus Torvald wrote in an update that “despite the slight worry that the holidays might have affected the schedule, 5.5 ended up with the regular rc cadence and is out now.
“That means that the merge window for 5.6 will open tomorrow, and I already have a couple of pull requests pending.”
Linux 5.5: More AMD Love
As with many updates of this type it’s a varied bag of performance tweaks mixed in with supporting software like the Raspberry Pi 4 / BCM2711 support.
AMD’s Ryzen CPUs – known as Raven Ridge – will receive support for amdgpu (its open source unified graphics driver for Linux) HDCP. Also receiving a bit of love in graphics support is Intel’s Gen/Tiger Lake which has gotten performance tweaks.
Also included in the 5.5. update is KUnit an in-kernel means of testing units. In a Git Pull Shuah Khan notes that: “KUnit is not an end-to-end testing framework. It is currently supported on UML and sub-systems can write unit tests and run them in UML env. KUnit documentation is included in this update.”
For gamers there is a bit of welcome news as the update includes the ability to overclock Radeon RX 5000 “Navi” series graphics processors using AMD’s OverDrive.
The merge window of the Linux Kernel 5.6 is now open, meanwhile, and the team working on it have already gotten a number of pull requests, i.e. requested changes.
Torvald gave a soft warning about the merge window of kernel update 5.6 that were a reminder of just how important the irascible Swede is to Linux: “Tthe timing for this next merge window isn’t optimal for me – I have some travel and other things going on during the same two weeks, but hopefully it won’t be all that noticeable.”