Linux in The News 4-24-23

Last Updated on April 24, 2023 by KC7NYR

Linux Kernel 6.3 Officially Released, This Is What’s New

Introduces a new Intel VPU DRM accelerated driver, BIG TCP support for IPv4, and native Steam Deck controller support.
Linux Kernel 6.3

Linus Torvalds announced today the release and general availability of Linux 6.3 as the latest and greatest kernel series for Linux-based operating systems bringing updated and new drivers for top-notch hardware support, as well as new features and enhancements.

Highlights of Linux kernel 6.3 include a new DRM accelerated driver for Intel VPU (Versatile Processing Unit) that supports VPU IP 2.7 integrated into 14th Generation Intel “Meteor Lake” client CPUs, Rust code support for x86_64 user-mode Linux, AES-SHA2-based encryption for the NFS file system, and support for AMD’s “automatic IBRS” feature.

Also new in the Linux 6.3 kernel is support for the “ZBB” bit-manipulation extension for RISC-V kernels, support for kernel address-space layout randomization and relocation for the LoongArch architecture, full support for BPF trampolines on RISC-V and IMB Z (s390x) systems, support for Hyper-V extended hypercalls for KVM (x86), and support for ARM SME (Scalable Matrix Extension) 2 instructions.

Other new features include support for system-call filtering on the m68k architecture, a new command-line parameter (cgroup.memory=nobpf) for disabling memory accounting and a new red-black tree data structure for BPF programs, support for ID-mapped mounts for the TMPFS file system, as well as per-CPU file-data decompression support for the EROFS file system.

There are also some great networking improvements in Linux kernel 6.3, starting with support for the PLCA (Physical Layer Collision Avoidance) Reconciliation Sublayer, BIG TCP support for IPv4, support for several new queuing disciplines, a new socket option to make it easier for multiple hosts to make outgoing connections through a NAT gateway, and support for multi-path TCP mixed flows for both IPv4 and IPv6.

New tools are present in Linux 6.3, including a new virtconfig build target for AArch64 systems that can be used to create a lightweight configuration for booting on virtual machines, a new hwnoise tool that can be used for measuring timing jitter caused by hardware, and a new Dhrystone benchmark test that’s built into the kernel.

There are also new and updated drivers to support devices like BananaPi R3 and Banana Pi BPI-M2 Pro SBCs, Samsung Galaxy tab A (2015) tablets, Rockchip RV1126 SoC, Orange Pi R1 Plus and Radxa Compute Module 3 IO single-board computers, Logitech G923 Xbox Edition steering wheel, EVision keyboards, and a new ath12k (mac80211) wireless driver for Qualcomm Wi-Fi 7 devices.

Moreover, Linux kernel 6.3 adds initial support for the Steam Deck‘s controller interface that currently only supports the controller’s inputs and toggling of the so-called “lizard mode”. In addition, there’s now support for Steam Deck’s rumble motors, supporting both the wired and the wireless adaptor.

“The Steam Deck also includes a heartbeat for lizard mode that switches it back on if no reports have been received within a few milliseconds. The official Steam client handles this by sending a handful of configuration reports every few ms, so we copy this behavior by sending configuration reports to disable the mouse and reset the digital mappings every 5ms,” reads the commit.

Linux 6.3 also improves Thunderbolt support by adding DisplayPort bandwidth allocation mode support, improves support for the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 (YT3-X90F) tablet, adds support for the 8BitDo Pro 2 wired controller, improves support for the Lenovo Yoga Book (X90F / X90L) 2-in-1 laptop, and introduces eBPF support for HID devices.

There’s also a new pata_parport driver based on libata and designed to handle IDE drives that are connected via parallel ports, deprecating the PARIDE drivers. Of course, there are numerous other updated and new drivers, so you should try this kernel version if your hardware doesn’t work with current kernels.

Linux kernel 6.3 is available for download right now from Linus Torvalds’ git tree here or from the website if you fancy compiling it yourself on your GNU/Linux distribution. If that’s not your cup of tea, you will have to wait until it lands in your distro’s stable software repositories.