Linux 6.0 Arrives With Performance Improvements and More Rust Coming

Linux creator Linus Torvalds has announced the first release candidate for the Linux kernel version 6.0, but he says the major number change doesn’t signify anything especially different about this release. ZDNet: While there is nothing fundamentally different about this release compared with 5.19, Torvalds noted that there were over 13,500 non-merge commits and over 800 merged commits, meaning “6.0 looks to be another fairly sizable release.” According to Torvalds, most of the updates are improvements to the GPU, networking and sound. Torvalds stuck to his word after releasing Linux kernel 5.19 last month, when he flagged he would likely call the next release 6.0 because he’s “starting to worry about getting confused by big numbers again.”

On Sunday’s release of Linux 6.0 release candidate version 1 (rc-1), he explained his reasoning behind choosing a new major version number and its purpose for developers. Again, it’s about avoiding confusion rather than signaling that the release has major new features. His threshold for changing the lead version number was .20 because it is difficult to remember incremental version numbers beyond that. “Despite the major number change, there’s nothing fundamentally different about this release – I’ve long eschewed the notion that major numbers are meaningful, and the only reason for a ‘hierarchical; numbering system is to make the numbers easier to remember and distinguish,” said Torvalds. Torvalds lamented some Rust-enabling code didn’t make it into the release. The Register adds: “I actually was hoping that we’d get some of the first rust infrastructure, and the multi-gen LRU VM, but neither of them happened this time around,” he mused, before observing “There’s always more releases. This is one of those releases where you should not look at the diffstat too closely, because more than half of it is yet another AMD GPU register dump,” he added, noting that Intel’s Gaudi2 Ai processors are also likely to produce plenty of similar kernel additions. “The CPU people also show up in the JSON files that describe the perf events, but they look absolutely tiny compared to the ‘asic_reg’ auto-generated GPU and AI hardware definitions,” he added.

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NetBSD 9.3: A 2022 OS That Can Run On Late-1980s Hardware

Version 9.3 of NetBSD is here, able to run on very low-end systems and with that authentic early-1990s experience. The Register reports: Version 9.3 comes some 15 months after NetBSD 9.2 and boasts new and updated drivers, improved hardware support, including for some recent AMD and Intel processors, and better handling of suspend and resume. The next sentence in the release announcement, though, might give some readers pause: “Support for wsfb-based X11 servers on the Commodore Amiga.” This is your clue that we are in a rather different territory from run-of-the-mill PC operating systems here. A notable improvement in NetBSD 9.3 is being able to run a graphical desktop on an Amiga. This is a 2022 operating system that can run on late-1980s hardware, and there are not many of those around.

NetBSD supports eight “tier I” architectures: 32-bit and 64-bit x86 and Arm, plus MIPS, PowerPC, Sun UltraSPARC, and the Xen hypervisor. Alongside those, there are no less than 49 “tier II” supported architectures, which are not as complete and not everything works — although almost all of them are on version 9.3 except for the version for original Acorn computers with 32-bit Arm CPUs, which is still only on NetBSD 8.1. There’s also a “tier III” for ports which are on “life support” so there may be a risk Archimedes support could drop to that. This is an OS that can run on 680×0 hardware, DEC VAX minicomputers and workstations, and Sun 2, 3, and 32-bit SPARC boxes. In other words, it reaches back as far as some 1970s hardware. Let this govern your expectations. For instance, in VirtualBox, if you tell it you want to create a NetBSD guest, it disables SMP support.

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Older iPads May Soon Be Able To Run Linux

Older iPads with the Apple A7- and A8-based chips may soon be able to run Linux. “Developer Konrad Dybcio and a Linux enthusiast going by “quaack723″ have collaborated to get Linux kernel version 5.18 booting on an old iPad Air 2, a major feat for a device that was designed to never run any operating system other than Apple’s,” reports Ars Technica. From the report: The project appears to use an Alpine Linux-based distribution called “postmarketOS,” a relatively small but actively developed distribution made primarily for Android devices. Dybcio used a “checkm8” hashtag in his initial tweet about the project, strongly implying that they used the “Checkm8” bootrom exploit published back in 2019 to access the hardware. For now, the developers only have Linux running on some older iPad hardware using A7 and A8-based chips — this includes the iPad Air, iPad Air 2, and a few generations of iPad mini. But subsequent tweets imply that it will be possible to get Linux up and running on any device with an A7 or A8 in it, including the iPhone 5S and the original HomePod.

Development work on this latest Linux-on-iDevices effort is still in its early days. The photos that the developers shared both show a basic boot process that fails because it can’t mount a filesystem, and Dybcio notes that basic things like USB and Bluetooth support aren’t working. Getting networking, audio, and graphics acceleration all working properly will also be a tall order. But being able to boot Linux at all could draw the attention of other developers who want to help the project.

Compared to modern hardware with an Apple M1 chip, A7 and A8-powered devices wouldn’t be great as general-purpose Linux machines. While impressive at the time, their CPUs and GPUs are considerably slower than modern Apple devices, and they all shipped with either 1GB or 2GB of RAM. But their performance still stacks up well next to the slow processors in devices like the Raspberry Pi 4, and most (though not all) A7 and A8 hardware has stopped getting new iOS and iPadOS updates from Apple at this point; Linux support could give some of these devices a second life as retro game consoles, simple home servers, or other things that low-power Arm hardware is good for. Further reading: Linux For M1 Macs? First Alpha Release Announced for Asahi Linux

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