Linux Kernel 5.17 Released, This is What’s New

Download a brand new Linux kernel version.

Linux 5.17 arrives a week earlier than expected and offers a variety of improvements, performance enhancements, security fixes, and other changes.

Linus Torvalds announces the release on the Linux Kernel Mailing List. He says that the one-week delay was necessary to account for recently-revealed security problems “…we did get a few last-minute reverts and fixes in and avoid some brown-paper bugs that would otherwise have been stable fodder, so it’s all good.”

So what’s new?

Linux Kernel 5.17 Features

The Linux 5.17 kernel includes many features, including a new AMD P-State driver (for compatible hardware i.e. Zen 2 and later, basically. This driver was created by Valve (thanks to Steam Deck handheld gaming computer) and promises to deliver better power efficiency that the ACPI CPUFreq driver.

There is, as always, a fresh dollop of support fornext-generation processors from both AMD and Intel, as well as enablement work to support Intel’s upcoming Alchemist graphics cards.

Sticking with Intel, the company’s new “platform firmware runtime update” driver (nicknamed PFRUT) is present in Linux 5.17. This, LWN say, allows “parts of the system firmware to be updated without the need to restart the system” — handy!

On the hardware front you’ll find a crop of ASUS motherboards gain working hardware sensor support with this kernel; there’s a new hardware monitoring driver for NZXT devices; and this kernel uplift includes support for various 2021 Apple Magic keyboards, including models with number pad and the fingerprint reader.

There’s also new new x86 Android Tablet driver that provides practical workarounds to allow older devices to boot more recent Linux kernels (and distros that sit atop them).

Linux 5.17 also supports the Universal Stylus Initiative (USI). This industry-led effort is to create a common specification that will allow input stili to function across devices and regardless of vendor. This is a promising start, though it is still early.

Major filesystems get tweaks in this release. EXT4 and BTRFS both see performance improvements. The former reduces metadata logs by half, copying only index keys. The latter gets a new mount API as well as support for get/set Fs labels.

Other changes:

  • ARM64 support kernel concurrency sanitizer (KCSAN)
  • Support for kVM virtualisation by Intel AMX
  • ID-mapped filesystem mounts can be made on top ID-mapped file systems
  • Xen USB Virtual Ho Driver passes USB devices on to XenGuests

More information on Linux 5.17 is available on the KernelNewbies wikiYou can also read the LWN merge roundup part 1And part 2.

Rolling release distros will likely package up and push out this kernel as an update in the coming weeks, but fixed release distros like Ubuntu generally don’t. You can install mainline kernel builds on Ubuntu but keep in mind these are intended for developers rather than end users and don’t include Ubuntu-specific patches.

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