While the straightforward release is good news, Torvalds warns there could still be challenges ahead: "That doesn't mean that something nasty couldn't have been lurking all these weeks, of course, but let's just take things at face value and hope it all means that everything is fine, and it really was a nice controlled release cycle. It happens."
Calm doesn't mean boring. True, the features of this release are not as exciting as earlier ones that included Rust or Apple M1 support. But there are still some major new features in the Linux 6.3 kernel.
Speaking of Rust, everyone's favorite memory-safe language, the new kernel comes with user-mode Linux support for Rust code.
Other features in the Linux 6.3 kernel include support and enablement for upcoming and yet-to-be-released Intel and AMD CPUs and graphics hardware. While these updates will primarily benefit future hardware, several changes in this release directly impact today's users' day-to-day experience.
The kernel now supports AMD's automatic Indirect Branch Restricted Speculation (IBRS) feature for Spectre mitigation, providing a less performance-intensive alternative to the retpoline speculative execution.
Yes, it's been five years now since the Spectre chip security hole opened up, and, yes, we're still fighting it today. The net result of this fix is that older AMD processors will be a bit more secure and a bit faster.
For filesystems, Linux 6.3 brings AES-SHA2-based encryption support for NFS, optimizations for EXT4 direct I/O performance, low-latency decompression for EROFS, and a faster Brtfs file-system driver. Bottom line: many file operations will be a bit more secure and faster.
There's also support for more Wi-Fi adapters and chipsets. These include: Realtek RTL8188EU Wi-Fi adapter support; Qualcomm Wi-Fi 7 wireless chipset support; and Ethernet support for NVIDIA BlueField 3 DPU. For users dealing with complex networks that have both old-school and modern networks, the new kernel can also handle multi-path TCP handling mixed flows with IPv4 and IPv6.