The Linux Kernel 6.3 is finally here, packed with significant updates and improvements. Let’s take a closer look.
Following the Linux Kernel 6.3 RC1 release a month back, Linus Torvalds announced the release of Linux Kernel 6.3, which is immediately available for download. Feature-wise, it’s a moderate release and brings the usual CPU, GPU, networking and security fixes. Overall nothing critical stands out during the RC phase, and it’s evident from Linus’s note.
It’s been a calm release this time around, and the last week was really no different. So here we are, right on schedule, with the 6.3 release out and ready for your enjoyment.
That doesn’t mean that something nasty couldn’t have been lurking all these weeks, of course, but let’s just take things at face value and hope it all means that everything is fine, and it really was a nice controlled release cycle. It happens.Linus
That being said, let’s give you the key highlights of this release.
Table of Contents
Linux Kernel 6.3: What’s New
CPU and GPU Updates
The latest Kernel release brings several CPU and GPU updates. AMD Zen 4 server processors now support Slow Memory Bandwidth Allocation Enforcement, which makes them compatible with data centre workloads. Additionally, there is continuous performance improvement on AMD 4th Gen FPYC and Ryzen products with automatic IBRS for Spectre V2 fixes.
Moreover, Intel’s x86_64 instruction LKGS has been merged, enabling lower latency transitions between CPU privilege levels. The TPMI driver is also merged, and Trust Domain Extensions (TDX) for 4th Gen Xeon Scalable “Sapphire Rapids” processors are updated.
ARM & SoC Updates
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 support has arrived in Kernel 6.3, which is significant because many leading mobile brands plan to release their upcoming devices with this processor. Other ARM and SoC updates include:
- Qualcomm QDU1000/QRU1000 5G RAN
- Rockchips RK3588/RK3588s for tablets, Chromebooks, and SBCs
- TI J784S4 for commercial usage
- Banana Pi R3 router with Mediatek mt7986a
- Qualcomm MSM8916 (Snapdragon 410)
- SM6115 (Snapdragon 662)
- SM8250 (Snapdragon 865)
- MSM8916 LTE dongles
Intel’s Meteor Lake VPU also makes its debut in Kernel 6.3, aimed at Meteor Lake SoCs for artificial intelligence computing. Additionally, Intel’s Meteor Lake GPU display support is now available in this version.
The Rust module in Kernel has received several improvements and support since its initial implementation in Kernel 6.1. Some notable changes include:
- Support for Arc, ArcBorrow, and UniqueArc types
- ForeignOwnable and ScopeGuard types support
- Improvements to the alloc module
File System and Networking
Kernel 6.3 introduces ath12k driver support for Qualcomm WiFi 7 series of chipsets. Moreover, the IPv4 protocol sees significant performance improvements due to the implementation of “IPv4 BIG TCP” patches. Additionally, the DisplayPort Bandwidth Allocation Mode for Thunderbolt drivers allows GPU and Thunderbolt drivers to work together for dynamic bandwidth allocation.
Furthermore, Tesla FSD SoC now has audio support, which aims to reduce the burden of maintaining drivers by Tesla themselves. It also opens up possibilities to run a custom Kernel in Tesla SoCs. Lastly, Btrfs and Ext4 file systems receive some bug fixes and performance improvements.
How to Download and Install Linux Kernel 6.3
Remember that using the bleeding-edge mainline Linux Kernel in your production systems/daily-drive laptops/desktops is not wiser unless you have a specific requirement. Or have the latest GPU, CPU, which requires support.
For general users, it’s always best to wait for a few weeks until all the major Linux Distributions bring this version via their official stable channel after proper testing.
That being said, if you still want to install this version, follow the instructions below in Debian-based distributions, which I lined up here.
- Firstly, visit the mainline kernel page.
- There are two types of builds available – generic and lowlatency. You can download generic builds that work most of the time for standard systems.
- For audio recordings and other setups that require low latency (like real-time feeds), download the lowlatency one.
- Secondly, download the below four packages for generic via the terminal and install them.
wget -c https://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v6.3/amd64/linux-headers-6.3.0-060300-generic_6.3.0-060300.202304232030_amd64.deb
wget -c https://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v6.3/amd64/linux-headers-6.3.0-060300_6.3.0-060300.202304232030_all.deb
wget -c https://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v6.3/amd64/linux-image-unsigned-6.3.0-060300-generic_6.3.0-060300.202304232030_amd64.deb
wget -c https://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v6.3/amd64/linux-modules-6.3.0-060300-generic_6.3.0-060300.202304232030_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i *.deb
- After installation, reboot the system.
- The instruction for lowlatency and other architecture (e.g., ARM) installations are the same. Replace the package name in the above wget commands. You can find them on the mainline Kernel page.
Arch Linux users should get this version by 1st week of May-2023 via monthly ISO refresh.
Ubuntu 23.10 may feature this Kernel by the end of this year. Also, Fedora 39 may feature this version which is due by Q4 2023.
In conclusion, the Linux Kernel 6.3 release brings several significant updates and improvements, including CPU and GPU updates, ARM and SoC updates, core changes, and file system and networking improvements. The new features and updates will enable users to enhance their computing experiences with the latest Linux Kernel.