Linus Torvalds battles power cuts to keep Linux releases rolling out

Linux kernel 5.12 first release candidate survives the snow storms hitting the US.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Linux kernel chief Linus Torvalds has announced the first release candidate of Linux 5.12 after a merge window that was hampered by power outages in the US north west. 

It's only been two weeks since stable Linux kernel 5.11 was released, and now the Linux kernel project is back with the first release candidate for version 5.12 after closing its merge window.   

Because of the winter weather lashing and power outages in Texas and Portland, Oregon, Torvalds has decided to call this release The "Frozen Wasteland" kernel, according to Phoronix. Torvalds works from home in Portland.

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About 500,000 houses in the north west of the US were left without power last week due to the snow storms, Newsweek reported

In the working from home era, power outages do impact projects especially with over 1,000 contributors who submit tens of thousands of changes to various hardware drivers to the Linux kernel. Even for a Finn who's familiar with Scandinavian winters, the US northwest snow storms' impact on the electricity grid were remarkable.     

"We have now had two unusual merge windows in a row: first we had the holiday season, and this time around the Portland area had over a quarter million people without electricity because we had a winter ice storm that took down thousands of trees, and lots of electricity lines," wrote Torvalds. 

Torvalds, who has in the past said he does more email than coding these days, congratulated contributors for being "actually very good about sending in their pull requests" in demanding times for the Linux kernel creator. 

"So I was actually without electricity for six days of the merge window, and was seriously considering just extending the merge window to get everything done," he said. This didn't happen largely because people were very good about sending in their pull requests.

"So by the time I finally got power back, everything was nicely lined up and I got things merged up ok," Torvalds explains. 

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Fortunately, 5.12 is a relatively small release, but Torvalds gave some updates to illustrate the impressive size of the project.

"Even if it was a slightly smaller merge window than previous ones, it's still big enough that appended is just my usual merge log, not the full list of the 10982 non-merge commits by 1500+ people. So it's more of a flavor of the kinds of things that have happened rather than a deep dive," he writes. 

"The one thing that perhaps stands out is that this release actually did a fair amount of historical cleanup. Yes, overall we still have more new lines than we have removed lines, but we did have some spring cleaning, removing the legacy OPROFILE support (the user tools have been using the "perf" interface for years), and removing several legacy SoC platforms and various drivers that no longer make any sense."

The Linux kernel project removed support for a lot of old Arm system on chips (SoCs) that haven't been updated since the mid-2010s. 

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