Linux in The News 6-27-21
Linux in The News 6-27-21

Linux in The News 6-27-21

The Linux kernel 5.13 series has been officially released today by Linus Torvalds as the latest and greatest Linux kernel branch packed full of new features, updated drivers, and improvements for better hardware support.

Two months in the works, Linux kernel 5.13 is here with initial support for Apple’s M1 processor, support for the Landlock security module for creating safe security sandboxes to mitigate the security impact of various flaws in user space apps, the ability to handle ASN.1 trusted keys, and initial support for the AMD Radeon “Aldebaran” GPU series.

Linux 5.13 also introduces initial FreeSync HDMI support for AMD GPUs, a new “big pcluster” feature for the EROFS file system to greatly improve compression performance, ACPI 6.4 support, support for the ECDSA (Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm) verification, as well as eBPF and KFENCE support for 32-bit PowerPC systems.

The exFAT file system has been improved once again with the ability to inform the storage device about unused blocks through a new FITRIM ioctl() command. On the other hand, Linux’s most popular file system EXT4 gained support for handling filesystems that use case folding and encryption, along with the ability to overwrite directory entries when deleting files.

Among other noteworthy features, there’s a new quota-related system call, initial file system shrinking support for the XFS file system, kexec support for the RISC-V architecture, a new miscellaneous cgroup controller for tracking and limiting the usage of scalar resources, and a new SMB3 mount option called rasize= that lets you increase the size of the readahead window for improved performance.

Of course, Linux kernel 5.13 also comes with numerous new drivers to enable support for various hardware, such as Lenovo’s Thinkpad X1 Tablet Thin keyboard, Apple’s Magic Mouse 2, or Amazon’s Luna game controller, and there’s also driver support for AMD NAVI GPU and new virtio drivers for some audio devices and Bluetooth controllers.

Linux kernel 5.13 is available for download right now from the kernel.org website for system integrators and those brave enough to compile their own kernel. Everyone else will have to wait for the new kernel series to land in the stable software repositories of their favorite GNU/Linux distribution to upgrade.


CentOS replacement Rocky Linux 8.4 arrives, and proves instantly popular

The Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF) has announced general availability (GA) of Rocky Linux 8.4. It’s an important milestone because it’s the first Rocky Linux GA release ever.

Rocky Linux was kicked off by CentOS co-founder and supercomputer veteran Gregory Kurtzer in December after CentOS’s Linux parent company, RedHat, announced it would shift focus from CentOS Linux to CentOS Stream.

CentOS Linux is a rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) that closely tracks new RHEL releases, which explains why Rocky Linux version 8.4 is the first GA release of the distribution.

Huge companies, including Disney, GoDaddy, Rackspace, Toyota and Verizon, relied on CentOS, and they were reportedly not happy about RedHat’s decision.

Kurtzer’s answer, as many searched for alternative Linux distributions, was to create Rocky Linux to support big enterprises running CentOS 8.

It turns out that Kurtzer’s decision has been a popular one. Besides quickly building up an army of hundreds of contributors for the project, Rocky Linux 8.4 – which follows the May 18 release of Red Hat’s RHEL 8.4 – was downloaded at least 10,000 times within half a day of its release.

In just 12 hours, we’ve counted almost ten thousand downloads of the Rocky Linux GA installers from our Tier0 mirror,” boasts Kurtzer in a LinkedIn post

“If we extrapolate the count to include our other mirrors we are probably at least 3-4x that (if not even way more)!” he said.

“Lots of reports coming in of people and organizations already replacing their CentOS systems (and even other Linux distributions) with Rocky. The media is flying off the hook and business analysts also validating to me personally that Rocky Linux might soon be the most utilized Linux operating system used in enterprise and cloud!”

Rocky Linux 8.4 took seven months for the newly formed community to release, and is available for x86_64 and ARM64 (aarch64) architecture hardware in various ISOs. 

“Sufficient testing has been performed such that we have confidence in its stability for production systems. Free community support is available through the Rocky Linux Mattermost, IRC, and forums. Paid commercial support is currently available through CIQ,” Rocky Linux notes in a blogpost

CIQ, or Ctrl IQ, is a startup Kurtzer launched recently to provide support for Rocky Linux enterprise customers in sectors such as defence and government, media, pharmaceuticals, high-performance computing (HPC), research and more. Kurtzer spent almost 20 years at a supercomputer powerhouse the US Department of Energy, where he served as the chief HPC systems architect. 

Rocky Linux cloud platforms include Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform, but the project suggests it will be expanding these options soon. 

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