Linux 5.2 Tied: New ARM Driver and Case Insensitivity for Ext4 File System

Linux 5.2 Tied: New ARM Driver and Case Insensitivity for Ext4 File System

Drivers for popular ARM-Mail graphics cores are a highlight of Linux 5.2, which is expected in July. On the next kernel version of Linux’s main development line, the popular Ext4 file system also learns something that is quite normal in the Windows world: ignoring the case of file and directory names (case insensitivity).

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One cd Testtherefore also changes to a directory with the name TESTor test. However, this behavior is inactive by default. You have to activate it in the superblock and in a directory from where it inherits; the directory must still be empty so that the file system can prevent the creation of ambiguous file system entries (such as TESTand test). The feature is interesting for Android, which Case Insensitivity has been achieved by an intermediate layer called Wrapfs.

Also new is the kernel parameter mitigations=[auto|auto,nosmt|off], which affects all of the processor gap countermeasures that have become known in the last year and a half. They eat a lot of speed in some environments. This performance loss can therefore be avoided by giving the kernel the parameter at mitigations=offstartup. This is easier than disabling the various protections via their individual parameters. Turning off protection techniques might be interesting for environments where only fully trusted code is running anyway.

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Many Stable and Longterm kernel lines have also recently learned this parameter in Linux versions 5.1.2, 5.0.16, 4.19.43, 4.9.176, and 4.14.119. There, the kernel developers incorporated the appropriate changes when they integrated the measures to protect against the recently publicized MDS vulnerabilities such as Zombieland; The latter will of course also be part of 5.2.

Especially nostalgic interesting: Two Linux developers have announced that they want to remove the driver code in 2021, which provides via IDE (also called Parallel ATA) addressed volumes via device names such as / dev / hda or / dev / hdc. That was in the early days of Linux usus. With the advent of Serial ATA, however, a more modern infrastructure for the exchange with ATA data carriers was created, which also soon learned to address all current controllers for IDE / Parallel ATA.

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Therefore, the developers suspect that hardly anyone uses the old IDE driver with current kernel versions. Unless anyone objects, they want to remove the code in order to simplify maintenance.

The graphics driver for modern Intel processors now automatically addresses the graphics cores of the Ice Lake generation, which Intel apparently wants to use first in notebook processors. The developers have also installed a number of drivers for Comet Lake, which is believed to belong to the tenth generation of Core i processors. Intel intends to introduce both processor series in 2019.

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Also new is the Rtw88 driver, which addresses Realtek’s 802.11ac WLAN chips. With the new Mt76 driver, Linux now also supports the 4×4-802.11ac Wi-Fi chips in the Mediatek MT7615 series.

For the popular ARM GPUs of the Mali series, the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) from Linux now includes the DRM drivers Lima and Panfrost. On them build the same OpenGL drivers for 3D acceleration, which contains the end of May / early June expected Mesa 19.1. Lima supports “Utgard” GPUs of the Mail 400 series; Panfrost, on the other hand, is designed for the newer “Midgard” and “Bifrost” GPUs sailing under the Mali model names T6xx, T7xx, T8xx and G3x, G5x, G7x, respectively.

All these drivers were not programmed by ARM but by independent developers. They have reverse-engineered the hardware and other drivers to scramble all the information needed to program the driver, as ARM provides little information. The two drivers therefore support only selected graphics cores of the mentioned Mali series and even there only a part of the functional scope.

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The situation is likely to improve gradually, however, as similar situations in the past have shown: The integration of such drivers in the Linux kernel motivates others to help in testing and improving the drivers. Nevertheless, it will take a while for the developers to support all the popular GPU features as well as the mail implementations of the popular SoCs.

Support for the highly eye-catching VPN technologyWireGuard will be missing from Linux 5.2, as there has been little progress in integration efforts recently.

However, these are reported to be reinforced after the developers of VPN technology recently released a pre-alpha version of WireGuard for Windows.

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Two weeks after the release of Linux 5.1, these and other major enhancements to the successor are now anticipated as Linus Torvalds has released the first pre-release version of Linux 5.2. As usual, he has completed the recording of all significant innovations; the number and extent of changes made in this “Merge Window” is at the normal level.

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With release of Linux 5.2-rc1 the stabilization phase begins now. In this almost seven- or eight-week section, Torvalds typically releases another pre-release version during the night from Sunday to Monday. Apart from a few latecomers and exceptions, the developers there only after error corrections and apparently harmless improvements after; the scope of functions will therefore not change much.

If the development follows the usual rhythm, Linux 5.2 should appear at night on the 8th or 15th of July.

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Number of
Lines of
source code
documentation) ²
merge) ³
Linux 4.14 61290 25,041,284
70 days 14,659
23,388 files changed,
719,862 insertions (+),
445,585 deletions (-)
Linux 4.15 62303 25,364,802
77 days 16,223
13,265 files changed,
643,912 insertions (+),
320,289 deletions (-)
Linux 4.16 62915 25,558,805
63 days 14,896
12.239 files changed,
1,133,069 insertions (+),
939,066 deletions (-)
Linux 4.17 61362 25,379,564
63 days 14,745
14.504 files changed,
777.301 insertions (+),
956.941 deletions (-)
Linux 4.18 61003 25,280,872
70 days 14,432
13,141 files changed,
583,336 insertions (+),
682,028 deletions (-)
Linux 4.19 61734 25,588,455
70 days 15,204
11,693 files changed,
552,223 insertions (+),
244,235 deletions (-)
Linux 4.20 62481 25,955,520
63 days 14,995
11402 files changed,
685,027 insertions (+),
317,959 deletions (-)
Linux 5.0 63135 26,203,035
70 days 13,921
12,100 files changed,
579,084 insertions (+),
331,570 deletions (-)
Linux 5.1 63,873 26.459.776
63 days 14,160
11,977 files changed,
545,423 insertions (+),
288,683 deletions (-)
Linux 5.2-rc1 64555 26,666,823
nn 12,792
12,020 files changed,
585,859 insertions (+),
378,816 deletions (-)
¹ git ls-tree -r –name-only HEAD | wc -l
² find. -type f -not -regex ‘\ ./ \. git /.*’ | xargs cat | wc -l; echo “($ (find.-name *. [hcS] -not -regex ‘\ ./ \. git /.*’ | xargs cat | wc -l))”
³ git-log –pretty = oneline v x . ( y-1 ) .. v x . ( y ) | wc -l; echo “($ (git-log – pretty = oneline – no-merges vx. (y-1) .. vx. (y) | wc -l))”
⁴ git diff –shortstat v x . ( y -1 ) .. v x . ( Y )

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com