Linux 6.0 arrives as Linus Torvalds promises 'core new things' ahead

Linux 6.0 is a major new kernel number, but doesn't represent fundamental changes. That's coming in Linux 6.1.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Getty Images/Nitat Termmee

Linus Torvalds has announced the stable release of Linux 6.0 but flagged it doesn't contain the "core new things" coming in Linux 6.1. 

Since the first release candidate (rc1) for Linux 6.0 in August, Torvalds has played down the meaning of the major version number change, which would have otherwise been 5.20. While he has called 6.0 a "fairly sizable release", he also said at conference last month "I wanted 6.0 to be boring." 

As he wrote on Sunday in an update: "So, as is hopefully clear to everybody, the major version number change is more about me running out of fingers and toes than it is about any big fundamental changes."    

As noted by Phoronix during the 6.0 merge window, Linux 6.0 brings performance improvements for Intel's Ice Lake Xeon processors as well as AMD's Ryzen Threadripper and AMD EPYC.

There's also new hardware support for Intel's Sapphire Rapids, Raptor Lake, and Meteor Lake processors, and new hardware support for Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8cx Gen3. Linux 6.0 advances RISC-V support on multiple fronts while there were hardware updates for OpenRISC and Chinese LoongArch.   

"But of course there's a lot of various changes in 6.0 – we've got over 15k non-merge commits in there in total, after all, and as such 6.0 is one of the bigger releases at least in numbers of commits in a while," noted Torvalds.

The big news about Linux 6.1, and likely to be among the "core new things" Torvalds mentions, is the addition of the Rust programming language to the Linux kernel, allowing developers to build things like drivers and other components in Rust instead of defaulting to the C programming language.  

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"And this obviously means that tomorrow I'll open the merge window for 6.1. Which – unlike 6.0 – has a number of fairly core new things lined up. But for now, please do give this most recent kernel version a whirl," wrote Torvalds on the Sunday mailing list. 

Via Phoronix, a pull request for bringing Rust language support into Linux 6.1 was submitted to Torvalds on Saturday by kernel developer Kees Cook and Miguel Ojeda, the developer driving the Rust for Linux project.

Kees wrote to Torvalds requesting he pull the "Rust introduction" pull request, whose contents contain "the absolute minimum to get Rust code building in the kernel". Many more interfaces and drivers are in the works, Kees noted. 

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Initial support comes in four categories, covering: kernel internals; 'Kbuild' Linux build infrastructure, such as Rust build rules and support scripts; the Rust 'Crates' packages and bindings; and Rust kernel documentation and sample. 

Besides being better than Linux's incumbent C language at memory security, Torvalds' also sees Rust as a way to attract new developers. 

"Rust is one of those things that I think might bring in new faces," Torvalds said recently, adding: "We're getting old and gray." Torvalds said in this first release that Rust will "just have the core infrastructure (i.e. no serious use case yet)." 

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