“The pure size made this merge window a bit more stressful than I like”
Nearly 20 percent of the files in the Linux kernel source repository are about to get an overhaul as Linux kernel 5.8 is set to be its biggest stable release ever with more than 800,000 lines of new code.
The head of Linux Kernel development Linus Torvalds has stated that Linux 5.8, due to have a stable release over the summer, will be the ‘biggest releases of all time’ with 14,000 file changes, 14 non-merge commits and more than 800,000 new lines of code.
Up till now the biggest release has been version 4.9 because in numbers it had more than 22 million lines of code, but that release was not as big as it seemed due to the merger of driver systems.
One such was the Greybus driver subsystem which was due to support a now abandoned Google project to build a modular smartphone under the code name Project Ara, which in Linux contained lines of code to build an application layer for a high-speed circuit interface connector for mobile devices.
The Finnish software engineer Torvalds detailed in a update that: “The 4.9 kernel was artificially big partly because of the greybus subsystem that was merged in that release, but also because v4.8 had had a longer rc series and thus there was more pent up development. In 5.8, we have no sign of those kinds of issues making the release bigger – there’s just simply a lot of development in there.”
“So in the 5.8 merge window we have modified about 20% of all the files in the kernel source repository. That’s really a fairly big percentage, and while some of it is scripted, on the whole it’s really just the same pattern: 5.8 has simply seen a lot of development.”
Torvalds notes that while the 5.8 kernel update has seen a ton of development and new lines of code committed, it’s not all focused on big features as previous released may have been, although he does note ‘big’ driver changes for habanalabs and atomisp.
“The development is really all over the place: there’s tons of fairly fundamental core work and cleanups, but there is also lots of file system work and obviously all the usual driver updates too. Plus documentation and architecture work” Torvalds notes.
The first stable update to kernel in 2020 was Linux 5.5 which saw increased support for Intel processor extensions for its x86-64 line and updates for Intel 5-level paging support. Much of which was done in preparation for the release of Intel servers that will have a significant amount of RAM. That release also saw support included for the Raspberry Pi 4 and Broadcom chip BCM2711.
With regards to the upcoming Linux 5.8 release Torvalds states that: “It’s worth noting that despite the size, it doesn’t necessarily look like a particularly troublesome release, at least so far. Yes, the pure size made this merge window a bit more stressful than I like, because I really like to have a few days of calm at the end to look at some of the pull requests in more detail. This time around that never really happened. But I only really had two pull requests I ended up wanting to go through in more detail, so it all worked out fine”.