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Desktop-deprived Linus Torvalds releases first release candidate of ‘not huge’ kernel 5.17

Life on the road increases reliance on cloudy tools instead of Emperor Penguin's preferred local tests

The first release candidate for version 5.17 of the Linux kernel has rolled off the production line – despite fears that working from a laptop might complicate matters.

Emperor Penguin Linus Torvalds is currently on the road and, when announcing the release of Linux 5.16 predicted that the version 5.17 release merge window would be “somewhat painful” due to his travels, and use of a laptop – something Torvalds said “I generally try to avoid.”

Torvalds’ laptop aversion comes from the fact that he likes to do lots of local testing on his beastly workstation powered by a 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper. Linus’ lappie appears not to match his desktop, so he ends up using more automated build testing in the cloud.

“And so [i] really hope that everything has been properly cooking in linux-next so that there are no unnecessary issues that pop up when things hit my tree,” he wrote.

Torvalds’ fears appear not to have materialised, as his announcement of version 5.17 rc1’s debut states “Everything seems to have gone fairly smoothly.”

The maintainer in chief opines that version 5.17 “doesn't seem to be slated to be a huge release, and everything looks fairly normal.” Torvalds noted “a bit more activity than usual in a couple of corners of the kernel (random number generator and the fscache rewrite stand out)”, but there’s nothing else he flagged as significant.

Others may beg to differ: The Register reckons changes that let RISC-V silicon address 64TB of physical memory sets the stage for interesting future server developments. Additional support for Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs, which mix-and-match performance and more modest cores, is also important.

The addition of the Real-Time Linux Analysis (RTLA), code billed making life easier for users and developers “to collect performance and trace data, helping fine-tune their systems/algorithms” will also be handy.

Torvalds’ post apologised to anyone who missed the closure of the merge window for this release, because his travels meant he created the release candidate a few hours ahead of his usual timing. While lightly scolding those who left it so late in the two-week window to submit their code, he added: “there's always 5.18. Never fear - we'll not run out of numbers.”

Might that be a reference to his past musings on the significance, or lack thereof, for version numbers? When Linux 3.19 emerged, Torvalds capped version numbers at x.20 in reaction to version 2.x’s culmination at version 2.6.39. As the 4.x series reached its teens, Torvalds again mused that version names are meaningless and said he doesn’t like to be predictable when it comes to naming. We should know what monikers he has in mind around mid-year if kernel development proceeds at its usual pace. ®

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