Linus Torvalds announced the arrival of the Linux kernel 5.12 on Sunday, which he flagged as a small update – but one that will be followed by bigger changes in version 5.13.
"Both the shortlog (appended) and the diffstat are absolutely tiny, and it's mainly just a random collection of small fixes in various areas," Torvalds noted.
With Linux 5.12 out, he's now started the merge window for 5.13 but he's still encouraging developers to test 5.12.
"Despite the extra week, this was actually a fairly small release overall. Judging by linux-next, 5.13 will be making up for it," wrote Torvalds.
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While it might be a relatively modest release in terms of changes, Linux 5.12 does come with a number of notable improvements for various hardware, including better support for Microsoft Surface laptops.
As per Phoronx, Linux 5.12 contains work on the Surface's System Aggregator firmware — an embedded controller for managing battery status, thermal reporting, cooling mode and other hardware-related functions. Work has been underway to make the module better for Linux, but it's from an independent developer rather than Microsoft.
This kernel version also brings improved support for Lenovo laptop hardware profiles thanks to work from Lenovo and Red Hat engineers. This lets users change a laptop's power and performance levels, which affects thermal and fan-speed behavior.
Torvalds notes that some AMD and Intel i915 GPU fixes "stand out" in this release. The Intel GPU fixes in this version of the kernel refer to an option to disable Intel integrated graphics security mitigations for the so-called iGPU leak.
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Another notable addition is Variable Rate Refresh (VRR) / Adaptive-Sync for Intel Tiger Lake "Gen12" Xe architecture graphics and newer. Linux 5.12 now supports overclocking on the Radeon RX 6000 series chips, as well as support for the Nintendo 64 and the Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense controller driver.
On the hypervisor side, Microsoft delivered a Hyper-V patch to allow Linux to boot as the root partition. Additionally, Linux 5.12 includes work on the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) to bring support for x86/x86_64 to allow user-space to emulate Xen hypercalls.