Linus Torvalds officially announced a few moments ago the general availability of the Linux 5.8 kernel series, which he dubbed as “one of the biggest releases of all time.”
Linux kernel 5.8 entered development about two months ago, during which it received a total of seven RC (Release Candidate) milestones. Last week, Linus Torvalds was undecided if an eighth Release Candidate is needed or not, but it looks like it’s the latter as he decided to release the Linux 5.8 kernel into the wild.
Despite dubbing it as “one of the biggest releases of all time” when he announced the first Release Candidate, it turns out Linux kernel 5.8 is not that big after all.
“Despite the merge window having been very large, there really hasn’t been anything scary going on in the Release Candidates,” said Linus Torvalds. “So there it is, a shiny new kernel. Give it a whirl.”
Among the many new changes in Linux kernel 5.8, there’s Branch Target Identification (BTI) support for ARMv8.5, support for Shadow Call Stack on the AArch64 (ARM64) architecture, a new faccessat2() system call, inline encryption support for the block layer, support for LZO-RLE compression in the F2FS file system, as well as a new
initrdmem= boot option for specifying an initial RAM disk image.
The list continues with support for multiple private instances in the /proc file system, a new event-notification mechanism, a new buffer-allocation API that promises to make it easier for developers to write XDP network drivers, and Kernel Concurrency Sanitizer (KCSAN) dynamic data race detector for kernel space.
Security-wise, this release comes with mitigations for the Special Register Buffer Data Sampling (SRBDS) a.k.a. CrossTalk hardware vulnerability affecting certain Intel processors, a new mechanism for revoking mappings in /dev/mem when a device driver takes over an overlapping memory range, and a new CAP_PERFMON functionality.
Linux 5.8 also includes dozens of updated drivers for better hardware support. Highlights include support for AMD RAPL MSR-based energy sensors, support for AMD SPI controllers, support for Rockchip video decoders, support for OmniVision OV2740 sensors, and support for Nvidia Tegra video input controllers.
You can download the Linux 5.8 kernel sources right now from the kernel.org website or using the direct link below. However, please keep in mind that this is currently marked as a “mainline” kernel, which means it’s not yet ready for mass deployments or use in production environments.
You should probably wait for the first point release, Linux kernel 5.8.1, to hit the streets before considering upgrading your kernel packages to the new series. Many of the rolling GNU/Linux distributions like Arch Linux or openSUSE Tumbleweed will probably upgrade to Linux 5.8 in the coming weeks.
Last updated 6 months ago