The release of Linux Kernel 6.6 is generating quite a buzz, and for good reason. This major update brings a host of improvements, including a new CPU scheduler, a memory-efficient eventfs subsystem, and enhanced support for gaming hardware. We'll break down the key changes in this article.
- EEVDF Scheduler: Linux 6.6 introduces the EEVDF scheduler, which replaces the older CFS scheduler. This scheduler is responsible for dividing CPU time between different processes. The good news is that EEVDF does this more efficiently, resulting in improved performance with reduced latency. However, it's worth noting that in rare cases, it may cause performance regressions for specific workloads. Kernel developers caution that this will be addressed.
- Eventfs Subsystem: A new eventfs subsystem is introduced to enhance memory efficiency in the tracing subsystem. This improvement ensures better resource management and overall system performance.
- AMD Enhancements: Several enhancements target AMD hardware. These include support for AMD Dynamic Boost Control, fixes for kernel panics on AMD Zen systems, KVM-related improvements, support for AMD Zen 5 temperature, and EDAC in AMD Family 1Ah processors. Additionally, control of AMD P-State features via cpupower is now possible.
- Intel Shadow Stack: A notable security enhancement is the inclusion of the Intel Shadow Stack, which benefits not only Intel chips but some AMD processors as well. This hardware feature helps protect applications from return-oriented programming (ROP) attacks, especially on Intel Tiger Lake processors and later.
- Filesystem Updates: CephFS now supports FSCRYPT, allowing the encryption of CephFS files and directories. KSMBD is no longer experimental, and IOmap improvements promise to deliver significant performance gains for I/O-intensive workloads.
- Gaming Hardware Support: Linux 6.6 extends support to a variety of gaming-related devices, including Google Stadia controller rumble, NVIDIA SHIELD controller battery reporting, SteelSeries Arctis 1 Xbox headset, Logitech G Pro X Superlight gaming mouse, and GameSir T4 Kaleid controller. Lenovo laptop owners will also be pleased to know that support for various models, including the Lenovo V14, V15, and the G14 AMN, has been added.
- Installation Considerations: While Linux 6.6 is a noteworthy release, it's essential to understand its availability on Ubuntu. Ubuntu typically follows a different kernel schedule, and the stable release that is expected to feature Linux 6.6 is Ubuntu 24.04, scheduled for April next year. Ubuntu LTS releases occasionally receive kernel backports, but this won't bring Linux 6.6 to existing versions. If you're eager to install Linux 6.6 on your Ubuntu-based system, you can do so using the mainline kernel builds provided by Ubuntu developers. However, be aware that these builds are not officially supported, so proceed with caution.
For more details on the EEVDF scheduler, check out the LWN article.
Linux Kernel 6.6 is a substantial upgrade, bringing performance enhancements, security improvements, and expanded hardware support, especially for gaming devices. Whether you're an enthusiast or a regular user, these changes promise a better Linux experience. Keep in mind the nuances of kernel availability on Ubuntu and exercise caution if you decide to install Linux 6.6 on your system.