Linux Kernel 6.7 arrives as a significant update in the realm of open-source technology. This 2024 release distinguishes itself with a host of new features and extensive hardware support, underlined by a remarkable volume of code contributions. It represents a pivotal advancement in the Linux series, emphasizing support for the latest generation of hardware, and setting a new benchmark in kernel innovation.
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What’s New in Linux 6.7?
Linux 6.7 introduces a suite of networking enhancements, significantly improving performance and security. Key updates include:
- GRO Decapsulation for IPsec ESP in UDP: Enhances the efficiency of encapsulating and decapsulating IPsec ESP packets in UDP.
- TCP Timestamps with Microsecond Resolution: This feature allows for more accurate timestamping of TCP packets, improving network performance and diagnostics.
- TCP Authentication Option (TCP-AO): A modern replacement for the MD5 option, TCP-AO enhances security in TCP/IP networking.
- Fragmented SKBs over Vsock Sockets Support: Improves data handling over virtual socket (vsock) connections, enhancing communication in virtualized environments.
- MCTP over I3C Support: This addition broadens the range of Multi-Channel Tunneling Protocol (MCTP) support to include I3C, widening Linux’s networking capabilities.
Advanced Filesystem and Storage Improvements
Linux 6.7 brings significant enhancements to filesystems and storage, including:
- EXT4 File System Improvements: Enhancements to the multi-block allocator and optimization in handling released data blocks to reduce lock contention.
- Btrfs Performance Enhancements: Substantial improvements to reduce file deletion time and enhance the efficiency of critical functions.
- F2FS Bigger Page Size Support: Aligned internal block size with page size to improve efficiency, especially in zoned block device environments.
Virtualization and Architecture Support
Linux 6.7 significantly expands its virtualization and architecture support:
- KVM Virtualization for LoongArch and RISC-V: Introduces support for the LoongArch architecture and enhances RISC-V virtualization with Smstateen extension support.
- ARM and RISC-V Enhancements: Includes new HWCAP definitions for ARM64, support for Ampere SoC PMUs, and several improvements for RISC-V, like cbo.zero support in userspace and virtualized SBI debug console (DBCN) for KVM.
Driver and Hardware Support Expansion
The kernel update adds numerous drivers and hardware support enhancements:
- USB Type-C Additions: New drivers and expanded support, including XHCI tracing and “La Jolla Cove Adapter (LJCA)” support.
- Enhanced Support for Lenovo Devices: Improved handling of auxiliary MAC addresses and suspend/resume functionalities for ThinkPad keyboards.
- EDAC Driver for Xilinx’s Versal Integrated Memory Controller: A new driver supporting Xilinx’s memory controller technology.
Security and Cryptography Updates
Linux 6.7 strengthens its security framework with several key updates:
- Enhanced Crypto Support: Introduction of a virtual-address based lskcipher interface and improved AES/XTS performance for PPC.
- AppArmor Security Enhancements: Updates include mediating io_uring and userns creation and optimizations in retrieving the current task’s secid.
Additional notable enhancements in Linux 6.7 include:
- Initial Network Support for Landlock: This feature adds TCP bind and connect access control within the Landlock framework.
- Media Drivers Using VB2 kAPI: Transition of all media drivers to VB2 kAPI, moving away from the old V4L2 core videobuf kAPI.
- Support for Non-Contiguous Capacity Bitmasks: Enhancements for Intel’s CAT implementation, improving memory capacity handling.
Linux Kernel 6.7, a transient branch, will receive support for a brief period, spanning only a few months. Linus Torvalds has officially initiated the merge process for its successor, Linux Kernel 6.8. The anticipated release of Linux Kernel 6.8 is slated for mid-March 2024.