Steve August 3, 2020
linux-5.8-released,-this-is-what’s-new

The release of Linux Kernel 5.8 has been announced by Linus Torvalds – but what’s new and improved? In this post we recap all the new features and any major changes.

In his email announcement to the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML) Linus says: “So [here] it is, a shiny new kernel. Give it a whirl before all you people start sending me the pull requests for the merge window, which I’ll start handling tomorrow.”

Linux 5.8 will be available for testing in Ubuntu 20.10 in the near future. It’s not yet clear which Linux kernel version the final stable release of the Groovy Gorilla will ship with in October (and thus be back-ported to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS via 20.04.2 LTS) but there’s a good chance it may be this release.

Linux 5.8: Key Features & Changes

If you were expecting Linux 5.8 to be one of the ‘biggest kernel releases’ in a long time you had good reason Linus hyped things up as such when the merge window for this release opened. Sadly you will need to put some brakes on your expectations.

Linux 5.8 is a pretty standard release. Not too big. Not too small. Just kinda there, doing everything the last kernel did (okay, and a bit more) better.

We’ve been spoiled by headline change after headline change in the last few releases, and that couldn’t continue.

Still, there are some new features and key changes worth knowing about, including:

  • New AMD energy driver for Zen/Zen2 energy sensors
  • AMD Renoir CPU temperature monitoring
  • AMD Renoir ACP audio support
  • AMDGPU Trusted Memory Zone Support
  • Kernel Concurrency Sanitizer
  • Boost support in the CPPC CPUFreq driver
  • Open Source Adreno 405 / 640 / 650 GPU support
  • Shadow Call Stack and Branch Target Identification for ARM64
  • More exFAT driver improvements
  • Thunderbolt ARM (i.e. USB 4.0) support
  • Intel Atom camera driver
  • Ability to swap fn and ctrl keys on Apple keyboards

There is also also a swathe of miscellaneous file system, system architecture, memory, and performance improvements on offer. The kind of invisible meta-glue magic that holds your system together — now even better™.

A crop of ARM-based single-board computer and reference platforms gain support in this release, including the ODroid-C4, Mediatek MT8173 (used in various ARM-based Chromebooks), and the Renesas RZ/G1H.

For a more detailed look at this release in all of its binary glory keep an eye fixed on KernelNewbies.org for a comprehensive overview of all the core changes.

Install Linux Kernel 5.8 on Ubuntu

You can install new mainline Linux kernels in Ubuntu, Linux Mint and other Ubuntu-based distributions using the mainline kernel builds built by Ubuntu developers.

But, and this is important: you shouldn’t do that.

Ubuntu uses the Ubuntu Linux kernel (which is like the upstream one, but with some Ubuntu specific patches or tweaks made). Major new Ubuntu Linux kernel releases don’t happen often and, when they do, they’re typically tied to a new stable release.

If you really can’t wait for Ubuntu to backport it you can go ahead and install it manually — just do so knowing that when/if your system breaks in half, you get to keep both pieces!

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