The latest Linux kernel released includes changes to networking, CPU architecture, Arm support, graphics and storage.
Linus Torvalds is a busy man who continues to toil away at the Linux kernel to bring it new features, better performance and enhanced security. While the latest release of the Linux kernel might not be viewed as the biggest milestone in the history of the open-source operating system, it does have very interesting new additions to help the OS soar to new heights.
The showstopper bit of trivia about Linux 5.19 is that Torvalds managed the release on an M2-powered Apple laptop. The Linux kernel has come so far that it can work with the latest and greatest hardware — from Apple.
Let’s dive in and see what the latest Linux kernel has to offer.
SEE: Linux turns 30: Celebrating the open source operating system (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Linux 5.19 is all about networking
The biggest additions and changes to the Linux kernel focus on networking; for instance, wireless and wired networking received much-needed love in Linux 5.19.
The list of networking changes in Linux 5.19 includes the following.
- BIG TCP support was added. This allows bigger TSO/GRO packet sizes for IPv6 traffic and achieves network speeds up to 400GBit/s.
- Multipath TCP (MPTCP) received numerous improvements.
- Qualcomm ath11k Wi-Fi driver now supports Wake-on-LAN.
- Support for Realtek 8852ce chipset, MediaTek T700 modems and Renesas RZ/V2M.
- A new driver for pureLiFI, which is light-based networking.
The most notable item on that list is BIG TCP, which will give a significant boost for high-performance networking and cloud-based data centers. Any system or service that sees massive networking traffic should greatly benefit from the addition of BIG TCP.
Linux 5.19 includes support for many Arm platforms
The 5.19 Linux kernel comes with support for multiple Arm platforms. On this issue, Torvalds stated:
“It’s something I’ve been waiting for for a _loong_ time time, and it’s finally reality, thanks to the Asahi team. We’ve had Arm64 hardware around running Linux for a long time, but none of it has really been usable as a development platform until now.”
Other CPU architecture changes and additions in Linux 5.19
As far as Intel architecture, there are plenty of updates/fixes/additions in Linux 5.19, including the following.
- Initial support for the LoongArch CPUs based on MIPS architecture.
- Support for Run-Time Average Power Limiting (RAPL) on Intel’s Raptor and Alder Lake CPUs.
- Initial support for a new Intel IFS driver to help detect hardware issues at the circuit level.
- Initial support for AMD Zen 4 CPU instruction-based sampling (IBS).
- Support for a.out was removed.
- Intel laptop overheating and battery drain has been fixed for Intel Skylake through Comet Lake CPUs.
Graphics and storage updates in Linux 5.19
Graphics and storage received interesting updates with Linux 5.19, including the following.
- Improvements for Apple M1 NVMe SSD controller.
- Updates for AMD RDNA, CDNA, Intel’s Raptor Lake, and Intel’s DG2/Alchemist.
- Zstd compression support was added.
- Nearly half a million lines of code were added for the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem.
More improvements and additions in Linux 5.19
The latest Linux kernel includes smaller improvements and additions, which include the following.
- The random number generator is much improved.
- Framework laptop receives Chrome OS EC driver support.
- Several tablets and trackpads including the Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint II, Google Whiskers Touchpad, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 TrackPoint received much-needed love.
- Support for Keychron’s wireless mechanical keyboard function keys now work.
- Wacom driver supports pens with three buttons and handles touch, even timestamps.
When can you get the Linux 5.19 kernel?
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can install the latest and greatest Linux kernel, though I don’t recommend doing so on production machines. There’s a reason why so many Linux distributions do not immediately ship the new kernel. To be safe, you should always hold off until your distribution maintainers add the new Linux kernel to the standard repositories. Distribution maintainers generally add a kernel to the repositories that has been fully tested to meet their specific needs and benchmarks. Plus, chances are pretty slim your distribution of choice supports the latest Linux kernel.
This doesn’t mean you can’t try Linux 5.19. You can always install the latest kernel, while keeping a working kernel installed to fall back on. How you install the latest kernel will depend on the distribution you use; remember that it’s always best, especially on production machines, to stick with the kernel the maintainers have made available.
For example, you can install Linux kernel 5.19 on Ubuntu 22.04 with the following commands.
sudo apt install ./linux-headers-5.19.0*.deb ./linux-image-unsigned-5.19.0*.deb ./linux-modules-5.19.0*.deb
After the installation completes, reboot your machine, and you should see (using the uname -r command) that Linux kernel 5.19 is in use.
One final reminder: I would only try this on non-production machines.