Despite all of the coronavirus challenges we’re facing these days, Linus Torvalds announced the release of the Linux 5.6 kernel series, the first to ship with built-in WireGuard support.
Development of Linux kernel 5.6 kicked off in early February with the first Release Candidate, but it wasn’t affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Seven weeks and RCs later, the final release of the Linux 5.6 kernel is here with a plethora of goodies.
As mentioned before, WireGuard support is the highlight of this new kernel series. WireGuard is top-notch, fast, modern, and secure VPN (Virtual Private Network) tunnel for providing next-generation VPN connections on Linux-powered machines.
Apart from WireGuard support, the Linux 5.6 kernel series also ships with USB4 support, a new CPU idle cooling thermal driver, initial support for Amazon Echo smart speakers, AMD Pollock support, as well as a new Zonefs file system for zoned block devices.
The list of features continues with compression support for the F2FS (Flash-Friendly File System) file system, server-to-server copy support for NFSD, cache support for NFS clients, and async discard support for the Btrfs file system.
As with all new kernel series, hardware support gets better and better. Linux 5.6 adds support for new ARM chips and boards, support for Ingenic X1000 SoCs, initial support for AMD Ryzen Zen 3 processors, as well as support for the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2000 graphics card series.
Of course, there are also numerous new and updated kernels, along with lots of improvements for various components. This makes Linux kernel 5.6 a worthy upgrade for most GNU/Linux distributions.
However, Linux 5.6 isn’t yet ready for mainstream use because it’s still marked as a “mainline” kernel on the kernel.org website, from where you can also download the source tarball if you’re eager to try it on your machine.
The rest of the world should wait for the first point release, Linux kernel 5.6.1, before upgrading. With this, the two-weeks merge window for the Linux 5.7 kernel series is now officially open, and Linus Torvalds hopes the coronavirus outbreak won’t affect its development cycle.
“I think we’re all reading the news and slightly distracted. 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,” said Linus Torvalds.