A stable version of Linux 6.0 is out, with 15,000 non-merge commits and a notable version number for the kernel. And while major Linux releases only happen when the prior number’s dot numbers start looking too big—”there is literally no other reason“—there are a lot of notable things rolled into this release besides a marking in time.
Most notable among them could be a patch that prevents a nearly two-decade slowdown for AMD chips, based on work-around code for power management in the early 2000s that hung around for far too long. Dave Hansen of Intel wrote the patch that made it into 6.0, noting in a comment on an Ars post that the issue had become an expensive drain as AMD systems gained higher CPU core counts. The average desktop user won’t see huge gains, but larger systems working on intensive input/output applications should benefit.
Intel’s brand-new Arc GPUs are supported in their discrete laptop form in 6.0 (though still experimental). Linux blog Phoronix notes that Intel’s ARC GPUs all seem to run on open source upstream drivers, so support should show up for future Intel cards and chipsets as they arrive on the market.
Linux 6.0 includes a number of hardware drivers of note: fourth-generation Intel Xeon server chips, the not-quite-out 13th-generation Raptor Lake and Meteor Lake chips, AMD’s RDNA 3 GPUs, Threadripper CPUs, EPYC systems, and audio drivers for a number of newer AMD systems.
One small, quirky addition points to larger things happening inside Linux. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X13s, based on an ARM-powered Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, get some early support in 6.0. ARM support is something Linux founder Linus Torvalds is eager to see—he has recently written release notes for kernel versions from his M2-powered MacBook Air and believes that more people using Linux on ARM devices leads to more bug reports, more patches, and more enthusiasm.
Among other changes you can find in Linux 6.0, as compiled by LWN.net (in part one and part two):
- ACPI and power management improvements for Rapid Sapphire CPUs
- Support for SMB3 file transfer inside Samba, while SMB1 is further deprecated
- More work on RISC-V, OpenRISC, and LoongArch technologies
- Intel Hbana Labs Gaudi2 support, allowing hardware acceleration for machine-learning libraries
- A “guest vCPU stall detector” that can tell a host when a virtual client is frozen
Not included in 6.0 are Rust enhancements, but those are likely coming in the next point release, 6.1. Rust, a memory-safe language sponsored by the Mozilla project, started out as something Torvalds took a wait-and-see approach toward and is now something he was hoping to see in 6.0. “Unless something odd happens, it will make it into 6.1,” Torvalds told ZDNet’s Steven Vaughan-Nichols in mid-September. Even just having the “core infrastructure” for Rust in 6.1 signifies a big change in Linux, which has long been dominated by C languages (however extended and modified).
It must be noted that in 2022, there are patches in Linux 6.0 to help Atari’s Falcon computers from the early 1990s (or their emulated descendants) better handle VGA modes, color, and other issues.
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