Linux 5.17 debuts after 'very calm' extra week of work

Linus Torvalds suggests version 5.18 will be a little larger, hopefully also warm, fuzzy, low-drama

Linus Torvalds has released version 5.17 of the Linux kernel.

"So we had an extra week of at the end of this release cycle, and I'm happy to report that it was very calm indeed," Torvalds wrote in his weekly state of the kernel post. "We could probably have skipped it with not a lot of downside, but we did get a few last-minute reverts and fixes in and avoid some brown-paper bugs that would otherwise have been stable fodder, so it's all good," he added.

Version 5.17's standout features include:

  • Support for four-level page tables on RISC-V silicon, meaning the open source tech can handle 64TB of physical memory or double that in a virtual address space. That kind of scale makes RISC-V potentially more applicable to all sorts of high-end workloads;
  • A new AMD P-state driver that improves users' ability to change CPU frequency in cores using the Zen 2 and later design. The driver mainly improves matters on client devices, but AMD's EPYC server silicon also uses the Zen architecture;
  • Tweaks that ensure it's possible to accelerate imminent Alder Lake mobile CPUs to reach turbo speed across their many and varied cores;
  • Mitigation of new Specter-like issues in Intel and AMD CPUs.

Linux being Linux, the new version also includes an oddity in the form of a fix for an ancient bug that could cause the OS to hang when a floppy disk is ejected.

Torvalds ended his post by noting that "about a dozen pull requests" have already arrived for version 5.18 of the kernel.

"I appreciate the early pull requests: it gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling of 'this was all ready in plenty of time'," he wrote, before opining that statistics he can see suggest "5.18 will be a bit bigger than 5.17 was, but hopefully without some of the drama."

Version 5.18 of the kernel is tipped to feature the debut of Intel's plans for "software-defined silicon" – a tech about which Intel has remained virtually silent, other than hints on mailing lists about features that would allow payments to enable different features in processors. The next kernel is also slated to bring improvements for AMD EPYC server CPUs, better pass-through for NVMe, and new random number generation code – and the usual grab bag of fixes and features large and small. ®

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