Linux 5.0 is out except it's really 4.21 because Linus 'ran out of fingers and toes' to count on

Ohhh, Torvalds! You are a card!

laughing colleagues in front of laptops

Linus Torvalds has squeezed out version 5.0 of the Linux kernel and flung open the merge window for its follow-up, 5.1.

In the post announcing the arrival, Torvalds was at pains to point out that feature-based releases really aren't a thing and the 5.0 "doesn't mean anything more than that the 4.x numbers started getting big enough that I ran out of fingers and toes".

However, there is actually much to delight Linux lovers in the release, which had been known as "4.21" before Torvalds' fingers and toes moment.

AMD FreeSync support will bring a smile to owners of high-end Radeon graphics cards, while those with deep enough pockets to afford Nvidia's Turing cards (the GeForce RTX 20 series and their ilk) now have some early support (although will likely have to grit their teeth and sully their systems with Nvidia's proprietary driver for a little longer).

As well as maker-pleasing support for Raspberry Pi touchscreens, there has also been a number of CPU enhancements, including some early work around AMD's Ryzen processors. And, of course, the ongoing mitigation for Spectre and its jolly band of vulnerabilities.

The latter has resulted in a slight performance hit. Linux hardware peeps at Phoronix have reported performance on systems running with the mitigations left as default on a Core i7 8086K box were down by 17 per cent compared to running in the security danger zone, with the mitigations disabled. The AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, on the other hand, was just 3 per cent off the pace. Good old Intel, eh?

Of course, unless you're adept at rolling your own, it will be a little while before the shiny new kernel makes its way into mainstream distributions. For example, Ubuntu's upcoming 19.04 release (aka Disco Dingo) is due to hit kernel freeze (the deadline for kernel updates) on 4 April, ahead of a 18 April release and so should feature the minty-fresh code, unless something even newer is emitted over the coming weeks.

And that number? Well, as Windows fans will be well aware, 5.0 is also the version number of Windows 2000, the moment at which Microsoft abandoned such numbering for its server products. There is thankfully no sign of Torvalds adopting a similar approach with Linux.

As for the future, remember that Windows version 6.0 was also known as "Vista". Hmmm, yes. The less said about that, the better. ®




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