By | January 29, 2018

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Linus Torvalds announced the release of the Linux kernel 4.15 series on 28th January 2018, the first major version release with patches against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities.

Linux kernel 4.15 has been in development since the last two months. The new release arrives late by one week than the actual expected date. The kernel developers were under extreme pressure to redesign the kernel against the infamous Meltdown and Spectre attacks which resulted in the slowest Linux kernel release since 2011.

After a release cycle that was unusual in so many (bad) ways, this
last week was really pleasant. Quiet and small, and no last-minute
panics, just small fixes for various issues. I never got a feeling
that I’d need to extend things by yet another week, and 4.15 looks
fine to me.

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Linux kernel 4.15 is reportedly the first kernel series that is fully patched against the Meltdown and Spectre hardware security vulnerabilities. But unofrutnately the patches are only available for the x86 and PowerPC (PPC) architectures. Linux kernel 4.15 is expected in the stable repositories of major GNU/Linux distros soon.

Also, it is worth pointing out that it’s not like we’re “done” with
spectre/meltdown.

Linus was so angry with the Intel developers last week such that he didn’t even hesitate to use the F word publicly.

As it is, the patches are COMPLETE AND UTTER GARBAGE.

They do literally insane things. They do things that do not make
sense. That makes all your arguments questionable and suspicious. The
patches do things that are not sane.

WHAT THE F*CK IS GOING ON?

And that’s actually ignoring the much _worse_ issue, namely that the
whole hardware interface is literally mis-designed by morons.

Linux Kernel 4.15 Released with Spectre & Meltdown Patches

Linux Kernel 4.15 Released with Spectre & Meltdown Patches

What’s new in the Linux Kernel 4.15 release

  • Meltdown and Spectre patches for the x86 and PowerPC (PPC) architectures.
  • Support for RISC-V architecture
  • Support for the User-Mode Instruction Prevention feature on Intel CPUs
  • A new cgroupv2-enabled CPU controller for better CPU usage restrictions.
  • Support for AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization
  • Improved video support for AMD GPUs.
  • Added modesetting to the AMDGPU open-source graphics driver for supported AMD Radeon GPUs.
  • Improved power usage for machines with SATA Link Power Management feature.
  • Various updates regarding networking, filesystems, grpahics, drivers and more.

Anyway, while spectre/meltdown has obviously been the big news this
release cycle, it’s worth noting that we obviously had all the
*normal* updates going on too, and the work everywhere else didn’t
just magically stop, even if some developers have been distracted by
CPU issues. In the *big* picture, 4.15 looks perfectly normal, with
two thirds of the full 4.15 patch being about drivers, and even the
arch updates are dominated by the arm DTS diffs, not by CPU bug
mitigation.

So the news cycle notwithstanding, the bulk of the 4.15 work is all
the regular plodding “boring” stuff. And I mean that in the best
possible way. It may not be glamorous and get the headlines, but it’s
the bread and butter of kernel development, and is in many ways the
really important stuff.

Download Linux Kernel 4.15

Those who aren’t patient enough can download Linux Kernel 4.15 from kernel.org and compile the sources right now. Otherwise you can wait until the new release arrives in your GNULinux distro’s official repository which is expected soon in the light of Spectre and Meltdown hardware security vulnerabilites.

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