Linux This Month: Rocky Linux RC & Linux Kernel 5.12

Alex Alex 13 May
Linux This Month: Rocky Linux RC & Linux Kernel 5.12

Plasma Mobile is an open software system for Linux mobile devices, and the team have presented the updates they've been working on for March and April of 2021. They stated that most of their work has been focused on applications and some improvements to the Plasma Mobile shell. Applications that have received updates include NeoChat, Elisa, Koko, AngelFish, AudioTube, PlasmaTube and more. Great to hear and continue the awesome work team.

Firefox 88

Firefox 88 is now available to download. It brings a few improvements, including enabling WebRender feature by default for users using the KDE plasma and Xfce desktop environments on Intel and AMD machines, which makes your web browsing experience faster and more reliable. This feature was enabled by default for GNOME users in version 84. Version 88 also makes touchpad pinch zooming smoother on Wayland, improves supports for PDF forms that use JavaScript, and has disabled FTP support.

Firefox is joining other popular web browsers and dropping FTP support with plans to completely remove the implementation starting with Firefox 90 release this summer.

Ubuntu 21.04

Ubuntu 21.04 dubbed Hirsute Hippo was released with native Microsoft active directory integration, Wayland graphics by default, and a flutter application development SDK. Separately, Canonical and Microsoft announced performance optimization and joint support for Microsoft SQL server on Ubuntu. It looks like both Canonical and Microsoft are putting that partnership to work. This latest version of Ubuntu is available to download today.

Pop!_OS Cosmic

Cosmic is a new desktop experience based on GNOME by System 76 for their Pop!_OS Operating system, the activities overview now has two distinct views, workspaces and applications. The super key activates the launcher by default and brings the option to have a dock to the settings. There are a few more changes and it's still in testing, but it looks like it's going to be a great addition to the already great Pop!_OS. Alrighty, let's dive into our top stories.

Linux Kernel 5.12

Linus Torvalds himself stated that 5.12 is a small release and mainly just a collection of small fixes in various areas, despite the extra week of work it required. He also mentioned that 5.13 will make up for it. Even though it's a small one, it still includes some notable improvements for various hardware, including Microsoft Surface laptops.

This release contains work from an independent developer on the Surface's System Aggregator firmware, which is an embedded controller for managing battery status, thermal reporting, cooling mode, and other hardware-related functions.

This version also brings improved support for Lenovo laptop hardware profiles, thanks to the work from Lenovo engineers and Red Hat engineers. There's also an Intel GPU fix in this version of the kernel that allows the option to disable Intel integrated graphics security mitigations for the so-called IGP leak, which is an information leakage vulnerability on Intel integrated GPU's.

5.12 now supports overclocking on the Radeon RX 6000 series chips, as well as support for the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense controllers. On the file systems front, Btrfs picked up support for zoned block devices, NFS gain support for "eager writes", which helps reduce memory pressure, and F2FS now supports LZ4 "high compression" mode. Yes, so overall, a bunch of hardware fixes and improvements, but as always much welcomed work. And we can't wait to see what 5.13 brings.

Rocky Linux RC

Rocky Linux release candidate is out, and even though it's not a final release, this release candidate is remarkably stable and gives us a clear taste of what's coming. If you're not familiar with Rocky Linux, it's meant to be a replacement for CentOS and it's made by the original CentOS creator Gregory Kurtzer.

Once you install Rocky Linux release candidate 1, you'll find your kernel 4.18, which is end of life, but still supported by Red Hat. It's based on RHEL 8.3, and it's got GNOME 3.32. A few more packages, but not much bloat as Rocky Linux is taking the same approach to updates as CentOS did, slow methodical. We talked about the upcoming end of life of CentOS Linux operating system in a previous episode of Linux This Month and I'll make sure to link that in the resources. It looks like Rocky Linux is shaping up to be a worthy replacement.

Fedora Linux 34

The first biggest change in the Fedora 34 release is of course the inclusion of the latest and greatest GNOME 40 desktop environment in the Fedora workstation edition. The second-biggest change is the inclusion of the Linux 5.11 kernel series, which enables better hardware support for systems that weren't supported in Fedora Linux 33 or previous versions. For new installations of 34, transparent compression for the Btrfs file system will be enabled by default.

Some other changes worth noting include PipeWire, multimedia processing engine being the new default as a replacement for PulseAudio, this would improve Bluetooth audio, low latency audio capabilities to pro audio users, and audio support to Flatpak apps, also systemd-oomd is enabled by default to offer a better experience in out of memory situations, support for AArch64 architecture and switches to the Wayland display server by default for the KTE plasma edition.

Lots of changes in this release. Personally, I can't wait to give it a try if you're already trying it out, let me know in the comments, let me know how it's going. 

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