What’s New in Linux Kernel 5.14: Eight Main Enhancements

The Linux kernel 5.14 was released with a host of new features, including core scheduling and support for the Raspberry Pi 400.

We often refer to Linux as the operating system, but in reality it's just the kernel. And the kernel has hit version 5.14, adding to the hardware you can now run with free and open source software, and the things you can do on those devices.

As is so often the case, this version removes tens of thousands of lines of code, this time by removing legacy IDE support. Nevertheless, because of all the additions, this kernel still contains more lines of code than the last one. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Core planning

Core scheduling is a function that, following the Meltdown and Specter vulnerabilities, offers more secure simultaneous multithreading instead of completely deactivating the previous "solution" of simultaneous multithreading. One feature that may be attributed to system administrators rather than desktop users is core scheduling in development for several years before it debuted in kernel version 5.14.

2. "Secret" memory areas

Another for system administrators, 5.14, provides the ability to create memory areas that other areas of a system, including the kernel, cannot access. This function comes from a memfd_secret System call that is not activated by default.

3. Journaling improvements for the ext4 file system

The ext4 file system has long served as the standard file system for many Linux distributions and has proven to be reliable. But there is always room for improvement. This kernel release reduces the risk of data leaks from a new one ext4_ioc_checkpoint Command that forces the file system to write pending journal transactions to disk and overwrite the data in the journal memory area.

4. Support for Raspberry Pi 400

In contrast to previous models, the Raspberry Pi 400 is a complete all-in-one PC. Okay most of the time. This is what you get when you cram a Raspberry Pi into a keyboard. All you have to do is connect a mouse and monitor. When this device started it was equipped with a modified Linux kernel. Now support has landed in the regular kernel found in most Linux distributions.

5. Support for Dell physical kill switches

Linux users may already be familiar with the concept of kill switches from Purism laptops or phones, but other manufacturers are all the rage. Dell is rolling out the functionality into its laptops, and support for it has landed in the Linux kernel.

6. USB drivers with lower latency for audio

This is a huge plus for anyone turning to Linux for audio production, be it creating music or a podcast. It has been confirmed that the lower latency playback with PipeWire works with PulseAudio and JACK.

7. Share Select button on Xbox One controllers

Microsoft's game console controllers work great with PCs, making them the standard for many gamers. Those who use the controller on Linux will now find a functional Share Select button.

8. Hot-Unplug for AMD Radeon graphics cards

If you find yourself in a situation where you want to snag your AMD Radeon graphics card out of your PC while it's on, support has landed in the Linux kernel. This is probably not something a lot of people do often, but if AMD has decided to make this something its graphics card can do, then it is reasonable to expect the feature to work on Linux as well.

How to get Linux Kernel 5.14

If you need the latest kernel right away, you can build Linux from source by downloading the files from kernel.org. However, this is neither the easiest nor the recommended course of action.

For most users, it is best to wait for the newer kernel to arrive as part of your regular system updates. This can mean a longer wait for some distributions than for others. A distribution like Ubuntu can stay on a single kernel until the next major operating system upgrade, while a rolling release distribution like Arch Linux will deploy the newer kernel in a relatively short amount of time.

Linux Kernel 5.14 brings several laptop improvements: try them out now

The Linux 5.14 kernel introduced some new improvements for laptops from Lenovo, Dell, Asus, and Microsoft.

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About the author

Bertel King
(326 published articles)

Bertel is a digital minimalist who writes from a laptop with physical privacy switches and an operating system recommended by the Free Software Foundation. He values ​​ethics over functions and helps others take control of their digital lives.

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