Linux kernel 6.6 is the next long-term support release

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For those who comply with Linux carefully, you will not be stunned by the information from the Linux Plumbers Convention in Richmond, Virginia — which is the invite-only assembly for prime Linux kernel builders — that the just lately launched Linux 6.6 is the subsequent long-term assist model (LTS) of Linux. 

Some individuals had thought the subsequent launch could be the not-yet-released Linux 6.7 kernel. In spite of everything, the Linux kernel maintainer for the secure department, Greg Kroah-Hartman, had stated that the yr’s final kernel would be the LTS model. Nonetheless, the huge 6.7 replace is not now anticipated to see the sunshine of day till a while early subsequent yr. 

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It ought to be famous that 6.7’s first launch candidate solely got here out on November twelfth. And as Linus Torvalds wrote, “That is the largest merge window we have ever had, with 15.4k non-merge commits.” 

Linux 6.7 will even embrace quite a few new options, such because the bcachefs file system, which is a brand new strong copy-on-write (COW) file system that boasts contemporary attributes whereas sustaining excessive efficiency. Linux 6.7 will even embrace assist for Nvidia’s GPU System Processor (GSP) firmware within the Nouveau open-source graphics drive and plenty of networking updates. It is a huge launch in each sense of the phrase.

Within the meantime, Linux 6.6 delivers many good options. These embrace the KSMBD In-Kernel SMB3 Server, the Earliest Eligible Digital Deadline First (EEVDF) Scheduler, and assist for Intel’s Shadow Stack. You possibly can already discover Linux 6.6 powering cutting-edge distros, akin to Arch Linux, openSUSE Tumbleweed, and Fedora Linux. By subsequent yr, it is going to be the engine in mainstream distributions, together with Canonical’s subsequent LTS model, Ubuntu 24.04.

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As an LTS model, the Linux 6.6 kernel will likely be supported till December 2026. Sooner or later, there will likely be fewer LTS Linux kernels. As Jonathan Corbet, Linux kernel developer and government editor of Linux Weekly Information, defined at Open Supply Summit Europe, shifting ahead, Linux kernels LTS is being lowered from six to 2 years. 

Presently, there are six LTS Linux kernels — 6.1, 5.15, 5.10, 5.4, 4.19, and 4.14. Below the method to this point, 4.14 would roll off in January 2024, and one other kernel can be added. Going ahead, although, they will not get replaced when the 4.14 kernel and the subsequent two drop off.

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The reason for this shift relies on two main components. First, individuals aren’t utilizing the older LTS variations. Why spend time and cash on initiatives once they’re sitting idle? The opposite main motive is that Linux code maintainers are burning out. There’s an excessive amount of work and never sufficient fingers to deal with the load.

Now, for those who actually wish to preserve a selected Linux kernel working for a protracted, very long time, you’ve gotten choices. One is to make use of the Linux Basis’s Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP) super-long-term secure (SLTS) kernel. These kernels energy run-time environments for industrial {hardware} utilizing CIP reference {hardware} and Debian 11 — and so they’re not for common use.

Nonetheless, for those who actually desire a kernel which you could rely on for a decade, Canonical just lately reaffirmed its assist for the Linux kernels it makes use of in its LTS Ubuntu releases for 10 years. As Canonical defined: “The Canonical upkeep and assist efforts are wholly unbiased of the upstream LTS and can proceed as earlier than. Regardless of adjustments in upstream LTS assist, Canonical stays dedicated to offering reliable assist for the Ubuntu kernel, guaranteeing that the Linux group and companies can proceed to depend on secure and safe software program.”

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So, if you wish to decide to utilizing, for instance, Ubuntu 20.04 in your computer systems till early 2030, Canonical will allow you to try this. The corporate is placing the ‘lengthy’ into long-term assist. 

Contemplating the speedy tempo of change in computing, although, the mainline Linux kernel’s two-year LTS assist window could be what most of you have to and use.