Here are the Major New Features in Linux Kernel 5.6

While we’ve already witnessed the stable release of Linux 5.5 with better hardware support, Linux 5.6 is an even more exciting release.

Linus Torvalds has announced the release of Kernel 5.6. He also noted that kernel development is not impacted with the Coronavirus lockdown:

I haven’t really seen any real sign of kernel development being impacted by all the coronavirus activity – I suspect a lot of us work from home even normally

Torvalds also expect a normal Kernel 5.7 release in coming months but certainly not at the cost of health of the contributors:

I’m currently going by the assumption that we’ll have a fairly normal 5.7 release, and there doesn’t seem to be any signs saying otherwise, but hey, people may have better-than-usual reasons for missing the merge window. Let me know if you know of some subsystem that ends up being affected.
So we’ll play it by ear and see what happens. It’s not like the merge window is more important than your health, or the health of people around you.

It’s nice of Linus Torvalds to highlight that in these difficult times with all the stuff going around with Coronavuirus.

Let me highlight the key changes and features of Linux kernel 5.6 release:

Linux 5.6 features highlight

Linux Kernel 5.6

Here’s all the major new changes:

1. WireGuard Support

WireGuard has been added to Linux 5.6 – potentially replacing OpenVPN for a variety of reasons.

You can learn more about WireGuard on their official site to know the benefits. Of course, if you’ve used it, you might be aware of the reasons why it’s potentially better than OpenVPN.

Also, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS will be adding support for WireGuard.

2. USB4 Support

Linux 5.6 also includes the support of USB4.

In case you didn’t know about USB 4.0 (USB4), you can read the announcement post.

As per the announcement – “USB4 doubles the maximum aggregate bandwidth of USB and enables multiple simultaneous data and display protocols.

Also, while we know that USB4 is based on the Thunderbolt protocol specification, it will be backward compatible with USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and Thunderbolt 3 – which is great news.

3. F2FS Data Compression Using LZO/LZ4

Linux 5.6 also comes with the support for F2FS data compression using LZO/LZ4 algorithms.

In other words, it is just a new compression technique for the Linux file-system where you will be able to select particular file extensions.

4. Fixing the Year 2038 problem for 32-bit systems

Unix and Linux store the time value in a 32-bit signed integer format which has the maximum value of 2147483647. Beyond this number, due to integer overflow, the values will be stored as a negative number.

This means that for a 32-bit system, the time value cannot go beyond 2147483647 seconds after Jan. 1, 1970. In simpler terms, after 03:14:07 UTC on Jan. 19, 2038, due to integer overflow, the time will read as Dec. 13, 1901 instead of Jan. 19, 2038.

Linux kernel 5.6 has a fix for this problem so that 32-bit systems can run beyond the year 2038.

5. Improved Hardware Support

Like every new kernel release, the hardware support improves in kernel 5.6 as well. The plan to support newer wireless peripherals is a priority here.

The new kernel adds the support for MX Master 3 mouse and other wireless Logitech products.

In addition to Logitech products, you can expect a lot of different hardware support as well (including the support for AMD GPUs, NVIDIA GPUs, and Intel Tiger Lake chipset support).

6. Other Changes

Also, in addition to all these major additions/support in Linux 5.6, there are several other changes that have been added to this kernel release:

  • Improvements in AMD Zen temperature/power reporting
  • A fix for AMD CPUs overheating in ASUS TUF laptops
  • Open-source NVIDIA RTX 2000 “Turing” graphics support
  • FSCRYPT inline encryption.

Phoronix tracked a lot of technical changes arriving with Linux 5.6. So, if you’re curious about every bit of the changes involved in Linux kernel 5.6, you can check for yourself.

Now that you’ve known the Linux kernel 5.6 release – what do you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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    • You don’t really need to run 64bit if you have a low end system (<4GB ram). Imagine mini servers, routers and the like

    • The same folks who were running COBOL-based billing systems on mainframes in December 1999. :D

    • How did you fix it? I’ve got the same wifi card in an xps 13 and I’m having to boot into an older kernel to get online.

  • really excited that the Unix time stamp problem is about to be fixed, this has been promised for so long, would have liked more details about that