A softer, gentler Linus Torvalds released the Linux 5.3 kernel over the weekend and swung open the doors on 5.4.
Things were held up a little this time around, something Torvalds attributed to his travel schedule rather than anything more sinister. He was, however, pleased to note that the extra week meant that a few last-minute fixes could be squeezed in.
While not an earth-shattering release, the 5.3 kernel has brought support for the new AMD Radeon Navi graphics cards, such as the Radeon RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT and x86 Zhaoxin CPUs. Other silicon-supporting tweaks included improvements to Intel Icelake graphics and Intel HDR display support.
However, Torvald's emission revealed a gentler side to the Linux supremo as he highlighted a commit he'd reverted "that wasn't actually buggy".
"In fact," he went on, "it was doing exactly what it set out to do, and did it very well."
The problem, he said, was that "it did it _so_ well that the much improved IO patterns it caused then ended up revealing a user-visible regression due to a real bug in a completely unrelated area."
Sticking code in the kernel that can mess with existing users is strictly verboten, as Torvalds famously raged about expressed at the end of 2012 in the measured way for which the man is famed. A Christmas to remember for the developer on the receiving end, for sure.
The issue was, of course, a little different this time around, and the manner in which Torvalds explained why regression was important was, as he described, "instructive" rather than expletive-laden. The key takeaway wasn't about fixing a bug, or iffy code – it was about whether "something breaks existing users' workflow", no matter how worthy the intentions.
Torvalds hoped the "better IO patterns introduced by the change" would make an appearance once developers had worked out how to handle the fact that people had begun to rely on the previous behaviour.
If you need the latest and greatest, you can get compiling now, although it might be worth hanging fire for the first point release before letting it anywhere near anything production-related. ®