Linux Kernel 5.4 will be the last major stable kernel release of the year 2019. The upcoming release has some big changes that will (positively) impact both manufacturers and end users.
Linux Kernel Lockdown
The lockdown feature aims to further strengthen Linux security by “restricting access to kernel features that may allow arbitrary code execution via code supplied by userland processes”.
In simple words, even the root account cannot modify the kernel code. This will hep in cases where a root account is compromised, the rest of system won’t be easy to compromise specially on kernel level. In even simpler words, it enhances the Linux security.
There are two lockdown modes: integrity and confidentiality.
In integrity lockdown mode, kernel features that allow userland to modify the running kernel are disabled.
In confidentiality mode, kernel features that allow userland to extract confidential information from the kernel are also disabled.
This lockdown feature is intended for device manufacturer and Linux distributions (specially the enterprise oriented ones). By default, lockdown module will be turned off.
Microsoft’s FAT filesystem doesn’t allow transferring files bigger than 4GB. To overcome this limit, Microsoft created exFAT filesystem. With this, you could now format a USB drive in exFAT and transfer bigger files.
Until now, Linux didn’t support exFAT natively. You have to install additional libraries to use exFAT filesystem. This is changing in the new release.
Microsoft recently open sourced the exFAT filesystem. Kernel 5.4 will now bring native exFAT support to Linux.
Other features in kernel 5.4
Some other major features in kernel 5.4 are:
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC support
- Support for newer AMD and Intel GPUs
- Ability to run mainline kernels on Arm consumer laptps
- Intel Icelake Thunderbolt support
- Support For The FlySky FS-iA6B drone receiver
- VirtIO-FS for sharing files/folders between the host and guests operating systems while using virtual machines
- Fixes for Windows gaming via Wine/Proton
- Improved FSCRYPT ssupport
There are several fixes and improvements around existing filesystems (like Btrfs) and hardware. You can see other changes in kernel 5.4 on Phoronix.
Linux Kernel 5.4: Expected release date
If everything goes right, Linux Kernel 5.4 should be released by the end of November 2019. It depends upon your Linux distribution when they start rolling it out. You may manually install it by yourself but I wouldn’t advise it.