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'Social distancing champ' Linus Torvalds releases Linux 5.6, tells devs to put health before next release

Doesn’t anticipate slowdown because ‘I suspect a lot of us work from home even normally’

Linux overseer Linus Torvalds given the world version 5.6 of the Linux kernel, and been awarded the title "social distancing champ".

The latter accolade came from his daughter. But he's tried to live the values it implies by telling the Linux community not to stress about the pace of kernel development.

"I haven't really seen any real sign of kernel development being impacted by all the coronavirus activity – I suspect a lot of us work from home even normally," he wrote.

"I'm currently going by the assumption that we'll have a fairly normal 5.7 release, and there doesn't seem to be any signs saying otherwise, but hey, people may have better-than-usual reasons for missing the merge window," he added.

"So we'll play it by ear and see what happens. It's not like the merge window is more important than your health, or the health of people around you."

The release of 5.6 is a bit of a surprise. Last week, Torvalds didn't follow his usual practice of dropping a hint about when this release would be ready. Today he wrote: "So I'll admit to vacillating between doing this 5.6 release and doing another –rc."

But after surveying his creation, Torvalds decided the remaining collection of issues "doesn't really seem worth delaying a release over".

So what's in 5.6? As we flagged in January, the WireGuard VPN has made it in, offering a welcome alternative to IPsec. There's also support for the Amazon Echo smart speaker, early support for USB4 and more Spectre mitigations.

The 32-bit branch of the kernel has also been mostly shorn of the Year 2038 bug, with just under 17 years to spare before it lost the ability to keep track of time. ®

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