The Linux kernel is undoubtedly the most popular open-source kernel available. The Unix-based kernel has been in existence since 1991 and has made waves since then. The most recent Kernel update was released earlier this year and brings with it some exciting changes.
What Is the Linux Kernel
The Linux Kernel is responsible for interfacing the hardware of a Linux machine with the processes running on the machine. It controls all major hardware functions. The kernel is responsible for memory management, process management, device drivers, system calls, and security. You can think of the kernel as being like your mom. She cleans up your mess, does everything for you, and you don’t even realize it until you move out of her house. Likewise, you don’t know that the kernel is working away in the background, keeping things running smoothly. All you see are things like your files and web browser.
Linux Kernel 5.7 Details
There are many new things that are included in the latest update to the Linux Kernel that should help to improve your Linux experience. However, let’s touch on some of the more useful and exciting things.
Samsung exFAT Drivers
exFAT is a file-system that was originally developed by Microsoft. It is commonly used with storage devices like SD cards and flash drives. Linux always has support for this filesystem, but it doesn’t come as a default in the kernel until now. This latest kernel update includes updates developed by Samsung engineers. This driver will run more efficiently. It will replace a less refined version of the driver that was contributed by Microsoft.
Better Thermal Management
Your computer does a number of things to manage cooling. In addition to running your system’s fan, the kernel can cap your CPU’s maximum operating frequency to cool it down. However, the task scheduler sometimes doesn’t get the memo and keeps giving your CPU instructions to run more tasks. This can lead to your CPU performing worse. However, a patch has been applied to address this problem in the latest kernel update.
Extended ARM Support
The new update supports more ARM processors such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 and the Mediatek MT8516 SoC.
A New EFI Mixed-Mode Boot Mode
This update includes support for 64-bit kernels to be booted from 32-bit firmware running on CPUs that can handle 64-bit kernels.
Support for Apple’s USB Fast-Charge Protocol
The popularity of Apple devices cannot be understated. This is therefore a very welcome change. Currently, with the 5.6 kernel, an Apple iPhone won’t be able to draw more than 500mA. However, if Apple’s protocol is active, these devices can draw up to 2500mA. With support for fast-charging enabled in the 5.7 kernel, Apple device owners will be able to charge their devices more quickly.
Support for Zstd Compression
With this latest kernel update, filesystem-level Zstd compression is included. Zstd compression offers high compression ratios.
Intel Tiger Lake Graphics Support
Intel’s new mobile processor (called Tiger Lake) is starting to gain traction, and we should start to see some devices using this processor soon. Linux kernel 5.7 brings support for discrete Tiger Lake graphics just in time. These updates are considered stable, which means that owners of Tiger Lake devices will most probably be able to enjoy the latest Linux kernel update.
The Linux kernel is constantly evolving, and these updates will help to further cement Linux as a stable, fast operating system that is completely open source and that can compete with and in many cases outperform some of the more mainstream operating systems.