Linus Torvalds has released a new version of the Linux kernel.
Dubbed version 4.20 (more on that later) the release almost didn’t make it out because Torvalds said he received plenty of updates over the last week. But as none of those “screams ‘oh, that's scary’,” he was content to make the release and announce a “usual” merge schedule that should see first release candidates emerge in a couple of weeks.
One of the more most interesting additions to Linux 4.20 is support for Hygon Dhyana CPUs, silicon spawned by a joint venture between AMD and Hygon and destined for the Chinese server market. There’s also new code to enable PCI peer-to-peer memory support, a technology that makes it easier to take data from a NIC and onto a disk or into a GPU, without touching system memory along the way. Doing so makes for faster data transfer which is seldom a bad thing.
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There’s also code to address the Year 2038 Problem, an issue that impacts all Unixes because in that year the number of seconds elapsed since the dawn of time (Jan 1, 1970 for Unix) will exceed a number that can be represented with a 32-bit integer, revert to a negative number and make trouble. Linux has made sure that’s nipped in the bud early!
Linus has as ever told Linux folk to start submitting code for the next release, which developers on the Linux Kernel Mailing List assume will be called 4.21.
But Torvalds himself spent some of 2018 discussing naming conventions, first toying with the idea of jumping from 4.19 to 5.0 and then rejecting the idea because he thinks developers can cope with numbers higher than those that can be counted on fingers and toes. But he later said version 5.0 will emerge in 2019 “because then I *really* run out of fingers and toes.”
Which could mean the jump goes from 4.20 to 5.0.
With Torvalds planning a normal development cycle, that could mean 5.0 debuts in February 2019, probably accompanied by his usual point that release numbers are meaningless.