Linux 6.3 debuts after 'nice, controlled release cycle'
Preps for Intel's Meteor Lake, improves support for Chinese RISC-V silicon, and gets to the starting line with a racing wheel
Linux 6.3 has arrived after a push that project boss Linus Torvalds characterized as "a nice, controlled release cycle" that required the seven release candidates he prefers and was supported by helpful developer behavior.
"It happens," he added, but also didn't rule out "something nasty couldn't have been lurking all these weeks." Torvalds therefore urged real-world testing to make sure this release really is ready for prime-time consumption.
Holidays and travel are often the cause of delays to kernel releases. Easter didn't slow development this time around.
Version 6.3 won't be a long term support (LTS) release – the last of those was Linux 6.1, and every fifth or sixth release gets LTS status. So while many users will be pleased to see it, 6.3 almost certainly won't be a cut of the kernel that demands adoption or attention.
Which is not to say it doesn't include some interesting goodies.
Among the additions are better support for multi-actuator hard disk drives. Conventional hard disks have one actuator driving a single set of read/write heads. Multi-actuator disks add a second set of heads, which speeds things up nicely. Hyperscale cloud operators are the first big buyers of multi-actuator disks, but they're slowly going mainstream. Now Linux is better able to handle them.
China's Loongson makes RISC-V processors and is working hard and fast to make them an enterprise contender. Linux 6.3 will help that a little by supporting Kernel Address Space Layout Randomization on the company's silicon. This has been around on other architectures for ages – security is helped by having the kernel load into different areas of memory each time it boots, instead of using the same locations and giving attackers a known target.
Microsoft coders contributed updates that add nested hypervisor support for Redmond's own Hyper-V hypervisor.
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Fresh kernels often include facepalm-grade fixes and this time around there's an update that ensures an Intel gigabit NIC can approach its promised throughput. Since 2020 the kernel has unwittingly throttled it to 60 percent of that speed.
Intel will be happier that this cut of the kernel gets out ahead of its forthcoming Meteor Lake silicon.
It's a rare kernel that debuts without support for something incongruous, and this time around users of Logitech's G923 racing wheel controller will be pleased that Linux now supports their passion.
The fine folk at Phoronix offer a comprehensive list of new features here. ®