Linux kernel 6.0 was released at the beginning of October 2022 and the developers immediately shifted toward the development of kernel 6.1 after a merge window. Now, after the merge window, most of the new features and improvements of Linux kernel 6.1 have been shaped. Despite no official confirmation, Linux kernel 6.1 will most likely be a Long Term Support (LTS) version. This information came from Greg Kroah-Hartman himself, but he also said it is not certain yet.
Here are the changes you will see in Linux kernel 6.1, which will be released in the first half of December this year.
Linux kernel 6.1 will continue the work on the random number generation code, which started in Linux kernel 5.19. Kernel 6.1 will deliver additional improvements in RNG and crypto subsystems. Additionally, the initial Rust infrastructure is now merged into kernel 6.1 development, which will bring Rust language support. 6.1 also lands MGLRU (Multi-gen LRU) support, which improves the Linux kernel’s page reclamation behavior, bringing performance uplifts.
More in general changes in 6.1, as was announced in late August, this release will land a new feature that makes it easier to spot faulty CPUs. The Pressure Stall Information feature, which measures system CPU, RAM, and I/O resources when the system is under heavy load, also received the capability of being turned on or off at the control group level. Additionally, it received some optimizations that could result in up to 9% performance improvement.
There are many improvements related to AMD in Linux kernel 6.1, starting with the LbrExtV2 support for Zen 4-based CPUs (Ryzen 7000 and upcoming EPYC products), which were introduced to the market a couple of weeks ago. The LbrExtV2 feature is the Last Branch Record (LBR) implementation of AMD for Zen 4 CPUs that analyzes the control flow of the running software in real-time. Additionally, the updated AMD Platform Management Framework and Cool and Quiet Framework drivers land in the Linux kernel to deliver better optimization for thermals, power draw, and performance.
Intel, on the other hand, updates its Error Detection and Correction drivers for faster memory error decoding and supporting the Skylake S platform within the driver. The company also wanted to mitigate the performance issues caused by Retbleet fixes with kernel 6.1, however, they missed the merge window; we can expect it in Linux kernel 6.2.
After receiving its first support with kernel 5.19 and getting PCI support with 6.0, LoongArch CPUs will receive EFI boot support alongside many small changes with kernel 6.1. Many additional Arm-based platforms/chips will receive support with kernel 6.1, including Mediatek MT8186, and some new smartphones will be able to run this kernel version, such as Sony Xperia 1 IV, Samsung Galaxy E5, E7, Grand Max, and PINE64 PinePhone Pro. On the other hand, support for bfloat16 extensions on Cortex-A510 CPUs is removed after being merged, because of a bug found. So, Cortex-A510 systems will not be able to utilize bfloat16 hardware in Linux kernel 6.1.
On the virtualization side, the Xen hypervisor now enables grant-based VirtIO on x86 and x86_64 systems and fixes some bugs in the driver. Additionally, the VirtIO block driver introduces the Secure Erase feature and it now supports vDPA feature provisioning in Linux kernel 6.1. Also in 6.1, file sharing between the host and the guest will be quicker, thanks to the 9P protocol optimization for VirtIO that removes the 500k msize limitation with the new p9_msg_buf_size() function.
AMD has also introduced the initial IOMMU v2 page table support with Linux kernel 6.1 with the aim of supporting hardware-assisted IOMMU virtualization on EPYC CPUs. KVM has received some treats for both ARM and x86 systems, mostly fixes and cleanups as well.
AMD introduces the new Gang Submit feature in DRM-Next code, which ensures that tasks are being executed on multiple engines simultaneously and opens the door for mesh shader technology that can deliver a huge performance improvement in complicated 3D scenes. For the upcoming RDNA 3 (Radeon 7000 series), the company submitted AMDGPU kernel graphics driver patches, which also brings Mode2 reset support for RDNA 2 (Radeon 6000 series) products that allows GPU to quickly reset itself without losing the data in the VRAM.
Intel brings patches for its Alchemist GPUs as well as some integrated GPU driver codes for the Meteor Lake CPUs, which is expected to land in the last quarter of next year. The new driver also fixes the performance issues in H.264 video acceleration and improves HDMI pixel clock handling for Alchemist GPUs.
File system changes
The Btfrs file system will be receiving big improvements in Linux kernel 6.1. The file system is updated to bring async buffered writes and IO_uring, which improves the IOPS throughput by more than double as well as the writing performance. Fiemap ioctl and inode logging are also updated to deliver much better performance, and the new kernel brings the initial fs-verity support.
XFS and F2FS, on the other hand, will mostly get bug fixes in Linux kernel 6.1. F2FS continues to receive atomic replace-related improvements as well. Finally, EXT4 receives some small performance improvement patches and bug fixes.
Other hardware changes
In mid-October, security researchers found multiple Wi-Fi-related vulnerabilities in the Linux kernel. Those vulnerabilities are going to be fixed with the release of kernel 6.1. The HID++ high-resolution scrolling feature of Logitech will also change the approach for the supported device list; with Linux kernel 6.1, the HID++ driver will be able to automatically detect supported Logitech hardware.
More HID drivers will be added to Linux kernel 6.1 to bring support for VRC-2 Car and PhoenixRC Flight controllers. Those will enable users to “play” simulations with more specialized wireless controllers. Speaking of controllers, 6.1 will also improve clone Nintendo controller support with better analog calibration. Lastly for HID, the IBM Operational Panel and PINE64 Keyboard Case products are now supported.
The sound driver is updated to support many new AMD hardware alongside Apple M1 and M2-based systems. Additionally, it brings support for some Qualcomm chips and NXP i.MX 8ULP digital signal processing units. Intel delivers Thunderbolt support for Raptor Lake and next year’s Meteor Lake processors.
For PowerPC, 6.1 brings KFENCE support in the 64-bit kernel, switch to a new API for 64-bit HV KVM implementation, new support for execute-only memory, and some other changes.
- Mediatek MDP3 and NXP i.MX DW100 media drivers lands; the already-existing Zoran and Hantor media drivers are promoted to mainline.
- Perf subsystem updated to deliver hit rate information about caches of AMD CPUs and memory.
- Additional code for Intel’s upcoming Gaudi2 AI accelerator.
- TTY over IEEE-1394 (firewire) support is dropped from the fwserial driver because no one maintains it.
- RISC-V systems now support CD-ROM images.
- Kernel Memory Sanitizer is now in the mainline Linux kernel.
- The work for removing a.out code is completed with Linux kernel 6.1.
What is the most recent Linux kernel?
The latest version of Linux Kernel is 6.2 and it was released on February 20, 2023. Also, the latest LTS (Long-Term Support) version of Linux Kernel is 6.1 and it was released on December 11, 2022. The final release of Linux kernel 6.3 will be available in late April.
How do you check the installed Linux kernel version?
You can check the Linux kernel version of your system with three different methods. You can simply use uname -r command to quickly check the Linux kernel version. You can also use cat /proc/version to check the version from a file. Installing the neofetch application is also an option to check the kernel version and it provides additional information about the other packages installed as well.
Can the Linux kernel be customized?
Yes, the Linux kernel can be customized. You can customize the Linux kernel by enabling or disabling specific options, and even adding new functionalities. But it’s a complicated process; you can check online guides about customizing the Linux kernel.
Is it legal to edit the Linux kernel?
Yes, it is legal to edit the Linux kernel since it is under General Public License.
Is the Linux kernel open source?
Yes, the Linux kernel is an open-source project.
Who developed the Linux kernel?
Linus Torvalds has developed and still developing the Linux kernel.
Does Linus Torvalds still work on Linux?
Yes, Linus Torvalds still works on developing the Linux kernel.
What is the Linux kernel written in?
Linux kernel code is written in the standard C programming language.