Linux Kernel 4.17, “Merciless Moray,” Offers Improved Performance and Security

Jonathan MathewsPublic

Linus Torvalds released version 4.17 of the Linux Kernel on Sunday, nine weeks after the prior version. Although Linus says he is running out “of fingers and toes to keep track of minor releases,” he has decided not to call this release “5.0” because he is saving that for 4.20.

As with the 4.16 cycle, 4.17 has been a relatively smooth, save a few hiccups due to those pesky chip issues. It turns out the shadow of the Spectre vulnerability is still long, and the last two weeks before the release were a busy ones, with patches designed to counteract the effects of Spectre v4 making up a significant portion of all the code submitted. That said, and even though Linus does not like large amounts of changes so late in the release cycle, he skipped an rc8 and released the final version of 4.17 anyway.

Be as it may, 4.17 also comes with plenty of other improvements. There is the set of changes that will improve the power consumption on most machines, for example. These changes affect what is called the “idle loop” of the kernel. Even if your machine is apparently not doing anything, as long as it is powered up, the kernel is working. The new code optimizes the “downtime” processes and, according to its author Rafael Wysocki, power consumption could go down “10% or more.” This means battery charges will last longer on laptops, clusters will be more efficient, and machines will be more eco-friendly across the board.

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