Linux kernel 6.8 offers some exciting new features and 'fixes all over'

Although it's not a historically big kernel, Linux 6.8 still has plenty to offer and will ship with Ubuntu 24.04 LTS. Here's what else to know.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
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If you're a big Linux kernel nerd, you might be shrugging your shoulders at version 6.8. After all, it's nowhere near the size of 6.7. 

In fact, Linus Torvalds (the creator of Linux) said in this Linux Kernel Mailing List post, "...this looks like an average release in pretty much all respects, and we don't have (for example) any obvious big new filesystems or architectures. I think the biggest single new thing in 6.8 is probably the new Xe drm driver, but honestly, the big bulk of changes are just various random updates and fixes all over."

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That's a key component of this new release…fixes all over, such as:

  • Improved networking buffers for better caching efficiency
  • Driver fixes for the Steam Controller
  • Better color management for the Steam Deck
  • A guest-first memory feature for KVM
  • A change to the Intel P-State CPU frequency scaling driver (so those CPUs will be able to hit their advertised boost speeds)
  • The ability to prevent direct writes to block devices
  • Improved sys call entry performance for the IBM Z architecture
  • Fixes to mitigate AMD RFI interference on Ryzen 7000 and 8000 laptops
  • Optimizations for NUMA balancing and Deadline Scheduler
  • IRQ override quirks for various laptops
  • Improvements to the WMI bus driver
  • Improvements for several Android devices

Of course, Linux 6.8 is not only about improving pre-existing technology. Even with this "average" release, there are some new features added.

As Torvalds mentioned, the biggest addition is the new Intel Xe DRM driver, which makes it possible for Linux to support future graphics cards. Supporting modern Intel graphics hardware (both integrated and discrete) and making it possible for Intel discrete graphics to work on ARM, POWER, and RISC-V architectures has been in development for years. The driver will also provide a significant performance boost for Intel integrated and discrete GPUs.

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Other new additions include support for the Broadcom BCM2712 CPU found in the Raspberry Pi 5, the Bcachefs initial online filesystem check and repair, timing adjustment to the fscrypt keyring destruction in preparation for Btrfs's fscrypt support, SBI-based suspend to RAM, host-side support for Intel's Trust Domain Extensions (TDX), Intel Sierra Forest and Grand Ridge intel/cstate PMU support, new drivers to support MPS Multi-phase mp2856/mp2857 controllers, and much more.

The 6.8 kernel will be only supported for a few months and will be succeeded by kernel 6.9. Torvalds already has several pull requests pending and added, "...before that excitement commences, please do spend a bit of time with the now boring old status quo and give 6.8 a good test, ok?"

You can read more about the Linux 6.8 kernel in this lore.kernel.org entry from Linux Torvalds.

As far as installing the 6.8 kernel, your best bet is to wait until your distribution of choice adds it to its default repositories. If you're feeling impatient, you can download the source from the kernel.org site.

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