Linus Torvalds released version 5.19 of the project and praised Apple’s homebrew silicon – and the Asahi Linux distribution that runs it – for making Arm-powered computers useful for developers.
In his announcement of the release, Torvalds called work to support the Loonarch RISC architecture made in China a milestone, along with “another batch of networking SYSCTL READ_ONCE() annotations to make some of the data run checker code”.
Torvalds then revealed that he got his hands on some Apple silicon.
“On a personal note, the most interesting part here is that I did the release (and I’m writing this) on an arm64 laptop. It’s something I’ve been waiting for _loong_ time, and it’s finally reality, thanks to the Asahi team,” he wrote. “We’ve had arm64 hardware on Linux for a long time, but none of it has really been usable as a development platform until now.”
The Emperor Penguin hid a bit, admitting “Not that I’ve used it for any real work, I’ve literally only done test builds and bootstraps and now tagging the real build.”
But it seems Torvalds wants an Apple-powered Mac to become his go-to machine when he’s on the road.
“I’m trying to make sure that the next time I travel, I can travel with this like a laptop and finally eat the arm64 side too.”
“This is my third time using Apple hardware for Linux development – I did this many years ago for PowerPC development on a ppc970 machine,” he wrote. “And then over a decade ago, when the MacBook Air was the only true thin and light. And now as an arm64 platform.”
Among the key features of kernel version 5.19:
- Support for Intel’s Trusted Domain Extensions that isolate virtual machines from the virtual machine manager/hypervisor and any other software on the platform, to add isolation beyond that achievable with conventional virtualization;
- Support for AMD’s SEV-SNP, which protects virtual machines against attacks on the hypervisor;
- Cross-platform support for Arm is almost done;
- Improved monitoring of ASUS motherboards;
- Removed support for the H8/300 CPU architecture from Renesas, which has the odd feature of having already been removed from the kernel and then reinstated.
The brave people of Phoronix have a long list New in 5.19.
Torvalds’ post ends with a footnote in which he states that he intends to call the next kernel release version 6.0 “since I’m starting to worry about getting confused again by the large numbers”.
It’s slightly incompatible with the 4.x series, which reached 4.20, but follows the same pattern used on the 3.x series which stopped at 3.19.
None of this makes a real difference anyway, as there is no indication that the next kernel will offer the kind of incremental change in functionality that would warrant an x.0 release in open source or commercial software. ®