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Yash Karandikar
Yash Karandikar

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Linux kernel 5.6 has been released. Here's what's new.

Linux kernel 5.6 was released this morning by Linus Torvalds, the social distancing champ himself.
In short, this is a fairly substantial kernel update (even putting aside the headline inclusion of Wireguard) with a wealth of networking, file system, and hardware driver improvements bundled up inside.
Here are some of the biggest changes.

1. Wireguard

Linux 5.6 boasts WireGuard support out-of-the-box — a big deal for those who know what this is, making it arguably the headline change of this kernel update.

It runs as a kernel module, and replaced OpenVPN.

2. Early USB4 support

The Linux 5.6 kernel series is the first to include support for USB4.

USB4 is based on Thunderbolt 3 and (among other benefits) provides high data throughput and backwards compatibility with USB 3.2 and USB 2.0.

3. CPU idle cooling driver

A rival approach to Intel’s home-grown versions, this new generic thermal driver isn’t limited to specific CPU architectures or vendors.

As summarised by Phoronix, “…this driver will inject idle cycles at run-time when necessary to cool down the CPU and also reduce any static power leakage.”

4. Better hardware support

Each kernel update offers improved support for hardware, ranging from ARM-based SoCs, developer boards, input devices, sound cards, mice, keyboards, and so on.

Linux 5.6 adds support a bunch of new SoCs and developer boards, including the Pine HardRock64, SolidRun’s HoneyComb LX2K workstation, and the Qualcomm sc7180.

There are also thermal sensor updates for a range of Rockchip and Allwinner platforms, as well as the Broadcom BCM2711 used in the Raspberry Pi 4 (among others).

Logitech devices that use the HID++ protocol can now report battery voltage on Linux, and the Logitech MX Master 3 Mouse will now “just work” out of the box.

5. Virtual box folder sharing

You may recall the plan to add support for the Virtualbox Shared Folder Driver (allowing users to instantly share folders between guests and hosts without using the Guest Additions package) in the Linux kernel.

It kinda debuted in Linux 5.4, but the feature didn’t quite work as planned and was postponed.

Well, this time the feature is back, working, and more importantly, staying put to enable seamless file access.

6. Fix for the 2038 bug

Linux 5.6 is the first kernel for 32-bit systems ready to run past Year 2038 given the Unix timestamp issue. Granted, plenty of user-space software still needs to be updated to handle the Y2038 issue.

That’s an overview of the biggest changes in Linux 5.6, which soon will be available for UKUU and rolling release distros such as Arch.

Top comments (2)

markoshiva profile image
Marko Shiva

size_t int64 :)

destynova profile image

"The Linux 5.6 kernel series is the first to include support for USB4."

Wow. I still feel like USB 3 is magical new technology... 😄