Software update: Linux kernel 5.15

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Linus Torvalds has version 5.15 of the Linux Kernel released† The kernel is the heart of the operating system and, simply put, it sits as a layer between the hardware and the applications. In version 5.15, which will receive extra support, we will find, among other things, a new and much improved ntfs driver. Furthermore, there is a new in-kernel smb driver, dram is now placed in persistent memory and several improvements have been made with regard to support for Apple’s M1 CPU. More information about the improvements in this release can be found at Phoronix† Here’s what they had to say about this release at 9to5Linux:

Linux Kernel 5.15 Features

As you’d expect, Linux 5.15 includes an impressive itinerary of improvements. These range from small fixes at lower levers through to major restructuring of core functionality. The following roundup highlights the additions that caught my interest/eye but is by no means an exhaustive run-through.

The headline change in Linux 5.15 the inclusion of a new NTFS file system driver, ‘NTFS3’. If you read or write to an NTFS partition in Linux (in distros like Ubuntu) it’s probably been using the older user-space ntfs-3g driver. In Linux 5.15 the kernel gains a new and hugely improved NTFS implementation thanks to code from Paragon Software

Also new is ksmbd — a new in-kernel SMB file server. This is not intended to replace Samba but compliment it by providing a lightweight and fast kernel-space module offering server-side SMB3 with ‘better lease handling’ that’s compatible with user-space tools and libraries.

After 17 years of development real-time preemption locking code has been merged† and DRAM memory pages are now moved to persistent memory instead of being discarded.

The effort to get Linux working on Apple Silicon continues to bear fruit. Amongst many smaller changes is a new Apple M1 IOMMU driver. While Linux on M1 isn’t quite “end-user ready” yet the pace of progress is fast. Expect further leaps forward in this area by the time Linux 5.16 rolls out.

Linux 5.15 includes high resolution scrolling for the Apple Magic Mouse; a newer Realtek RTL8188EU Wi-Fi driver; a driver that allows access to OTP read-only memory on the Wii U — *1UP SFX* — and support for power profiles on select Acer laptops.

Among a swathe of single-board computer additions is mainline kernel support for the NVIDIA Jetson TX2 NX developer kit.

Further Intel Alder Lake support is included, while groundwork is laid for AMD Cyan Skillfish and Intel XeHP and DG2/Alchemist graphics. There’s also a new AMD Van Gogh APU audio driver which will benefit the upcoming Steam Deck.

Among numerous file system improvements is a set of fresh enhancements to EXT4 (Ubuntu’s default file system) including better dellloc buffer write performance; EROFS filesystems now support direct I/O on uncompressed files; and Btrfs picks up support for fs-verity file integrity assurance to allow the kernel to detect any modifications made to individual read-only files.

Version number 5.15
Release status Final
Operating systems Linux
Website Linux kernel
Download
License type Conditions (GNU/BSD/etc.)
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