Linux kernel leader Linus Torvalds has officially taken the wraps off the Linux kernel version 5.17, which brings changes to software interfaces involving hardware from Intel, AMD, and Arm-based manufacturers.
In a world where Android and cloud infrastructure defines technology, new Linux kernel versions are important events.
That update happened on Sunday, when Torvalds announced the release of Linux kernel 5.17 – but only after last-minute fixes, including a delay required to address a new version of a security flaw.
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Linux 5.17 progress was slowed by a week because the team had to deal with patches for another variation on the Spectre attacks, which added to the workload.
Despite the curve ball, Torvalds rated the development process of 5.17 as "very calm" since kernel developers only needed to fix "brown-paper bugs".
"So we had an extra week off at the end of this release cycle, and I'm happy to report that it was very calm indeed," he wrote on the Linux kernel mailing list.
"We could probably have skipped it with not a lot of downside, but we did get a few last-minute reverts and fixes in and avoid some brown-paper bugs that would otherwise have been stable fodder, so it's all good."
The big news, according to Torvalds, is that Linux 5.17 is small. Besides the security fix, there were only minor fixes to improve hardware drivers.
"It really is small enough that you can just scroll through the details below, and the one-liner summaries will give a good flavor of what happened last week," wrote Torvalds.
Work on Linux 5.17 began in January with improvements targeting AMD, Intel and Qualcomm chips for laptops and mobile devices. As noted by Linux news site Phoronix, this update should bring better power efficiency to AMD Zen 2 systems and a fix for Intel's Alder Lake mobile processors.
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With Linux kernel 5.17 in the rear-view mirror, Torvalds and his 30,000 collaborators have opened the window to the development of kernel version 5.18, which should be a bigger release than this one.
"Judging by the statistics in linux-next, it looks like 5.18 will be a bit bigger than 5.17 was, but hopefully without some of the drama," says Torvalds.
As such, the work on the next version has already begun: "Of course, this means that the merge window for 5.18 will be open starting tomorrow, and I already have about a dozen pull requests waiting in my inbox. I appreciate the early pull requests: it gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling of 'this was all ready in plenty of time'", Torvalds wrote.