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Linux 4.17 Arrives with New Kernel Memory Consistency Module

Monday Jun 4th 2018 by Sean Michael Kerner

Third new Linux kernel of 2018 is now generally available, and Linus Torvalds foreshadows that Linux 5.0 is coming soon.

Linus Torvalds officially released the Linux 4.17 kernel on June 3, after seven release candidates. Linux 4.17 is the third major Linux kernel release of 2018 and follows the Linux 4.16 release, which was announced on April 1.

Among the major new features that have landed in Linux 4.17 is the new Linux Kernel Memory Consistency Module (LKMM).

"The Linux Kernel Memory Consistency Model (LKMM) subsystem [is] an an array of tools in tools/memory-model/ that formally describes the Linux memory coherency model (a.k.a. Documentation/memory-barriers.txt), and also produces 'litmus tests' in form of kernel code that can be directly executed and tested," Linux kernel developer Ingo Molnar wrote in his Git pull message for Linus Torvalds to include the code in Linux 4.17.

Also of note, the Linux 4.17 kernel has new hardware enablement for Centaur x86 CPUs and now also provides security protections for the Spectre CPU vulnerabilities on IBM's s390 system.

While new Linux kernels always add new capabilities, they also often remove older, little used features as well. For Linux 4.17, support for the older IBM Power 4 silicon architecture was removed.

"Removal of POWER4 support, which was accidentally broken in 2016 and no one noticed, and blocked use of some modern instructions," the powerpc merge commit for the Linux 4.17 kernel states.

Linux 5.0 Release Coming Soon

In his release announcement, Torvalds wrote that he had considered naming the Linux 4.17 kernel as Linux 5.0.

"No, I didn't call it 5.0, even though all the git object count numerology was in place for that," Torvalds wrote. "It will happen in the not-too-distant future, and I'm told all the release scripts on kernel.org are ready for it, but I didn't feel there was any real reason for it."

"I suspect that around 4.20, which is [when] I run out of fingers and toes to keep track of minor releases, and thus start getting mightily confused — I'll switch over," Torvalds added. "That was what happened for 4.0, after all."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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