Linux Kernel 5.0 – New Features and Improvements

By Ankit in News
Linux Kernel 5.0

Linux 5.0 has come out in place of Linux 4.22, but that does not mean that there are a whole lot of new features. In the words of Linus Torvalds himself about a new version on Linux:

I’d like to point out (yet again) that we don’t do feature-based releases, and that “5.0” doesn’t mean anything more than that the 4.x numbers started getting big enough that I ran out of fingers and toes.

In this post, we will provide you a glimpse of some of the new features of Linux Kernel 5.0, which came in April 2019. We will also highlight the unique features expected in Linux Kernel 5.4 due at the end of November 2019. 

What are the New Features in Linux Kernel 5.0?

Here are the new features of Linux Kernel 5.0:

  • AMD Radeon FreeSync Support
  • NVIDIA Xavier Display Support
  • Improved Power Management
  • Raspberry Pi Touchscreen driver
  • Adiantum Data Encryption
  • Advanced ARM Hardware Support

AMD FreeSync Display Support

AMD FreeSync is a type of adaptive sync technology for displays such as PC monitors, gaming laptop screens, and others. It helps to avoid screen tearing, stuttering and juddering. All these get done by synchronization of the refresh rate of the panel with the frame rate from the GPU(Graphics Processing Unit). 

Kernel 5.0 takes the help of Mesa 19.0 for working with AMDFreeSync. FreeSync fails to work on any GPU. It works only with those that work with a specific FPS range. You must have a monitor that is supportive of AMD Radeon R5/R7/R9 200 series GPU and also, FreeSync, if you want to experience AMD FreeSync. 

Moreover, it synchronizes the refresh rate with frames per second (FPS) for fixing tearing and stuttering. Synchronizing FPS with refresh rate adds input lag and is not reliable. The reason for this is consistency for refresh rate; however, FPS lacks consistency. 

Finally, the speed at which FPS sends frames for the monitor to display gets determined by the refresh rate. 

NVIDIA Xavier Display Support

It is an exciting time for gaming enthusiasts. The new Kernel 5.0 supports one of the advanced architectures in the market, which is NVIDIA Turing architecture. 

It not only offers exceptional realistic graphics for PC games but also helps to accelerate visual content editing. It is a GPU architecture that runs demanding applications in data centers as well as used in machine learning and other use cases.

Improved Power Management

Kernel 5.0 comes with Energy-Aware Scheduler (EAS) for improvements in power management. It has the capability of efficiently handling CPUs with asymmetric topologies of the likes of big.LITTLE and platforms like dynamilQ ARM.

It makes energy-efficient scheduling decisions for reducing energy usage and increasing performance. 

Raspberry Pi Touchscreen Driver

Linux Kernel 5.0 supports the Raspberry Pi touchscreen with an official driver, and this is for the first time. Raspberry Pi connects to the touchscreen through the DSI port, as general-purpose input/output GPIO pins power it. 

The Raspberry Pi-ts driver receives information through Raspberry Pi firmware, with the memory-mapped area. The support enables the Raspberry PI enthusiasts to develop DIY tablets and their smart information displays. 

Adiantum Data Encryption

Kernel 5.0 substitutes Speck, an encryption algorithm developed by the National Security Administration(NSA). Adiantum Data Encryption is part of Kernel 5.0’s merge window. It is designed basically for the low-end Android Go devices. 

Adiantum is part of Fscrypt, which a management tool for Linux file system encryption. It contributes to the desktop user experience through the native EXT4 and F2Fs. Moreover, Fscrypt Adiantum Support helps with Fast Data Encryption on low-end Hardware.

Advanced ARM Hardware Support

The popularity of ARM processors is due to their ability to perform multiple tasks at the same time and their widespread use among users. The majority of Android smartphones and tablets come with chipsets equipped with ARM architecture.

Improved ARM support comes with pointer authentication, which is a security feature that is inbuilt in ARM architecture code. The support allows authentication and signing of pointers against secret keys. It protects the kernel fro result-oriented programming (ROP) attacks. 

Some More Features of Linux Kernel 5.0

Here are some more features accompanying Linux Kernel 5.0: 

  • Support for NXP i.MX8 SoCs
  • Support for Allwinner T3, Qualcomm QCS404, and NXP Layerscape LX2160A
  • Intel VT-d Scalable Mode support for Scalable I/O Virtualization
  • Upgraded Realtek R8169 driver
  • Support for Logitech High-Resolution Scrolling
  • Support for the Chameleon96 Intel FPGA board
  • Updated x86 laptop drivers
  • Support for another Vega M GPU and Vega IDs
  • Security enhancement for Thunderbolt

Linux Kernel 5.4 will be the last stable Kernel release of the year 2019 and all set to be released by end-November 2019. 

What’s New in Linux Kernel 5.4?

Here are some of the significant features expected in Linux Kernel 5.4:

exFAT Support 

The FAT filesystem of Microsoft fails to transfer bigger files exceeding 4 GB. So, exFAT files get used. All this is set to change. 5.4 allows you to transfer bigger files by formatting USB drive with exFAT. Linux so far never supported exFAT natively. You could use exFAT filesystems by installing separate libraries. 

Linux Kernel Lockdown

The Lockdown feature enhances the security of Linux. It restricts access to Kernel features and may allow arbitrary code execution with code supplied by userland processes.

It is not possible to modify the kernel code even through the root account. But, also when the root account gets compromised, then the rest of the system fails to compromise at the Kernel level. By default, the Lockdown module gets turned off. 

Conclusion

The new version of Ubuntu 19.04 comes with Linux Kernel 5.0 and includes most of the features. It is highly recommended not to go for a manual installation of Linux Kernel 5.0. It is not easy to revert to the earlier version if anything goes wrong with manual installation. 

  • Written by Ankit Kharola

    We cover almost all the topic categories from the world of tech—whether it’s the new mobile phone on the blog, a new app on the IOS, new exciting game, the latest productivity software, or the latest news about tech companies and startup, we got you covered.

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