First Linux 4.14 release adds "very core" features, arrives in time for kernel's 26th birthday

Linus Torvalds says Linux 4.14 is getting core new functionality.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Image: Aalto University/YouTube

Linus Torvalds has announced the first release candidate (rc) for Linux 4.14, the next long term stable release of the Linux kernel.

This release introduces several new core memory management features, a host of device driver updates, and changes to documentation, architecture, filesystems, networking and tooling.

It's the first of a likely seven release candidates before the new kernel reaches stable release around November.

Torvalds announced the Linux 4.14rc on Saturday, exactly one day before Linux-0.01 -- the very first kernel then coded largely by Torvalds himself -- was released 26 years ago. Today, there are some 4,300 developers working on the kernel, adding around 10,000 lines of code per day.

Kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman said earlier this month that Linux 4.14 would be this year's long term support kernel, meaning he'll be adding stable kernel patch back ports for at least two years from its release. This was announced in July. Previous long term releases were 4.4 and 4.9, which are supported until February 2018, and January 19, respectively.

Torvalds says Linux 4.14 is "pretty regular" in size compared to the smallish 4.13 release but hasn't been as smooth as during the merge window. As usual he had a few criticisms over processes, but didn't blame it entirely on contributors.

"Don't get me wrong - things don't look bad, but I hate it when I find issues during the merge window that I feel should have been noticed before the code made it to me, and it happened a few times this release," he wrote.

"Admittedly, some of it was simply because we had some unusual activity," he added.

This unusual activity referred to three new core memory management features for x86 virtual machines, including support for Address Space Identifier or ASID, known as PCID on x86 systems, AMD memory encryption support for its EPYC processors, and support for Intel's 5-level paging.

An operating systems uses paging to translate linear or virtual addresses, which are used by software, to physical addresses where memory is accessed. Intel's 5-level paging boosts addressable memory from 256 terabytes to 128 petabytes. As noted by noted by Phoronix, this was to better support x86 super computers.

"So 4.14 is getting some very core new functionality," notes Torvalds.

The bulk of work however has gone towards new device driver updates. According to Torvalds, there were over 1,500 contributors to this release.

This version also has support for a range of developer boards, including the Raspberry Pi Zero W, and optimizations for Microsoft Hyper-V, Xen, and KVM.

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