Linux's 'big' 4.9 release adds support for Raspberry Pi Zero, LG Nexus 5

This week sees the release of Linux 4.9, a mammoth release spanning 22 million lines of code.

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Linux kernel founder Linus Torvalds: "I'm pretty sure this is the biggest release we've ever had."

Image: Aalto University/YouTube

The Linux kernel has undergone what has been described as its "biggest release" ever, as part of a wide-reaching update.

The release of the Linux 4.9 will bring a range of new features to operating systems based on Linux.

"I'm pretty sure this is the biggest release we've ever had, at least in number of commits," said Linux kernel founder Linus Torvalds, in a post announcing the mammoth release, which spans more than 22 million lines of code.

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"If you look at the number of lines changed, we've had bigger releases in the past, but they have tended to be due to specific issues. In contrast, 4.9 is just big."

Additions include support for the tiny $5 Raspberry Pi Zero machine and the LG Nexus 5, alongside 27 other ARM-based boards, and experimental support for older AMD graphics cards. These cards are based on AMD's Graphics Core Next 1.0 architecture, such as the Radeon HD 7000 Series.

The release also incorporates the Greybus driver subsystem, which is based on work undertaken as part of Google's now abandoned Project Ara to develop a modular smartphone. During Ara, Google engineers developed the Greybus hardware protocol, which provides an application layer for UniPro, a high-speed interface for connecting circuits in mobile devices. The UniPro bus was chosen as being a good fit for a phone where electronic components such as cameras, speakers and displays could be swapped out at will.

Other improvements include better stability and security thanks to support for Intel Memory Protection Keys and vmapped kernel stacks, improved support for P-State power-saving features on some Intel Atom processors and the ability to use virtual displays on AMD GPUs.

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