Linux Kernel 6.7 Released: What’s New

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.

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 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.

Miscellaneous Enhancements

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.

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