Linus Torvalds today announced the release and general availability of Linux 5.18 as the newest stable kernel series for GNU/Linux distributions, adding many new features and improved hardware support.
Linux kernel 5.18 comes precisely two months after the Linux 5.17 kernel series and received seven RC (Release Candidate) milestones during its entire development cycle, which helped the kernel developers fix bugs and improve existing functionality.
Highlights of Linux kernel 5.18 include the switch to the C11 compiler standard, support for “user events” in the tracing system, support for AMD’s “host system management port” function, support for 64-bit integrity checksums on NVMe devices, support for the Intel’s “hardware feedback interface” feature, indirect branch tracking support for the x86 architecture, as well as better process scheduling performance on AMD Zen CPUs.
Linux 5.18 also improves the Btrfs file system with support for two new
ioctl() operations allowing for direct reading from and writing to a file’s extent and cross-mount reflink/dedupe support, improves the random-number generator feature, improves the io_uring subsystem, adds RSA encryption support to the virtio-crypto device, and adds a new
keep_last_dots mount option to the exFAT file system so that it no longer strips trailing periods from file names.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that 32-bit PowerPC systems finally support live patching in Linux kernel 5.18, which also implements support for the Intel software-defined silicon driver, support for ID-mapped mounts to the F2FS file system, built-in support for NFSv3 in the NFS file system, support for the BPF program-packing memory allocator, and a new fprobe function entry/exit probe mechanism for probing multiple functions with a single probe handler, based on ftrace.
For ARM users, Linux kernel 5.18 brings support for separate interrupt and virtually-mapped kernel stacks to 32-bit ARM systems, as well as support for the new QARMA3 pointer-authentication algorithm and shadow-stack build support to the AArch64 (ARM64) architecture.
For the RISCV architectures, Linux 5.18 introduces support for the “Sv57” page-table format, a new perf implementation that uses the SBI PMU and Sscofpmf extensions, support for the SBI CPU-idle extension, and support for restartable sequences. Also, the PA-RISC architecture received minimal vDSO support.
Among other noteworthy changes, Linux kernel 5.18 deprecates support for the ReiserFS file system, improves the bridge subsystem with support for multiple spanning trees, adds fragment support to the express data path (XDP) mechanism, and adds a new Linux kernel keyring called
machine that contains the TPM’s Machine Owner Keys (MOK).
Last but not least, Linux 5.18 includes numerous new and updated drivers for better hardware support. Highlights include initial dual-core GPU support to the Panfrost driver, support for HP laptops using Realtek audio, InterTouch support on ThinkPad T14 and P14s Gen 1 laptops, support for Razer BlackWidow keyboards, Fn mapping for MacBook Pro laptops with Touch Bar, and various goodies for Macs with the Apple T2 security chip and several Apple Magic Keyboard models.
Linux kernel 5.18 is available for download right now from the kernel.org website for those who fancy compiling their own kernels. If that’s not your cup of tea, you’ll have to wait for the Linux 5.18 series to land in the stable software repositories of your favorite GNU/Linux distribution, which should happen in the next few weeks. And, as expected, the merge window for the next major version, Linux 5.19, will open tomorrow.
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