A brand new version of the Linux kernel is available to download, to round off July or signal the start of August, depending on your locale.

Linux 5.19 is a pretty sizeable update all told, and it features a litany of low-level optimisations, several notable improvements to networking support, all-important security fixes, and lots more.

In announcing the release on the Linux Kernel Mailing List, Linus Torvalds remarks “…the most interesting part here is that I did the release (and am writing this) on an arm64 laptop. It’s something I’ve been waiting for for a _loong_ (sic) time, and it’s finally reality, thanks to the Asahi team.”

Asahi is the project to get Linux working on laptops using Apple Silicon.

He also says that the next release of the Linux Kernel is “likely” to be badged as v6.0 rather than 5.20 — we’ll hear more on that approach in the coming weeks.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s new.

Linux Kernel 5.19 Features

Core networking code for both wireless and wired connections as well as many individual network drivers see improvements in Linux 5.19. This includes Big TCP support, a driver for pureLiFi (a very interesting new light-based networking technology), and a mainlined driver for Silicon Labs’ WFX Wi-Fi low-power IoT receivers.

There’s also further improvement to Multi-Path TCP (MPTCP) including user-space support for the MPTCP path manager; wake-on-LAN support has been added to ATH11K driver from Qualcomm; while the RTW89 wireless driver now includes support for Realtek 8852ce 5GHz devices.

Zstd compression is trend du jour these day and in Linux 5.19 the kernel picks up Zstd compressed firmware support. This offers a space-saving alternative to XZ-compressed firmware support.

Got an Intel laptop? Many Linux users have been experiencing issues with the laptop running hot and draining the battery faster than expected when in sleep mode. Linux kernel 5.19 carries changes to remedy this, and should mean laptops equipped with Intel’s Skylake through Comet Lake chips run cooler and don’t drain the battery while snoozing.

There’s a huge dose of code related to the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem, primarily aimed at supporting AMD GPUs but also benefiting Intel and even some ARM GPU chips too.

On the Apple Silicon side, an Apple M1 NVMe controller and Apple eFuses driver were merged to further support for running Linux systems on Apple’s game-changing processors (which is now coming along at a clip).

Hardware monitoring continues to improve thanks to the additions in the HWMON subsystem. In this kernel uplift this intros better sensor coverage across various motherboards, including a slew of boards from ASUS including their PRIME X470-PRO and ProArt X570 Creator series. There are also drops of code to support fan controllers in provides from Aquacomputer.

Owners of the (rather gnarly) Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint II keyboard are in for a treat. The device, which is modelled after Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops keyboards, “just works” in earlier versions of the Kernel. But in Linux 5.19 the keyboard gains a ‘native’ mode. This offers a better experience including proper function button mapping, native scrolling, and middle-button support.

Keeping with keyboards, Linux 5.19 improves support for Keychron’s wireless mechanical keyboards. Devices like the Keychron K2 and K10 already work with Linux but this kernel uplift sweetens things by ensuring function keys work reliably, even when switching between some models’ Windows/Mac mode.

Some other smaller things of interest:

  • Wacom driver supports pens with three buttons
  • Wacom driver handles pen and touch event timestamps
  • Uclogic driver supports more Huion tablets and pens
  • Support for the Lenovo X12 trackpoint

Linux 5.19 is available to download as source code right now, though most of us will want to wait for our distro maintainer to package the update and push it out as a software update. On Ubuntu that won’t happen for a while, though Pop!_OS does (I believe) like to push out newer kernel releases relatively promptly.

Feeling brave? You can take a punt on Canonical’s mainline repo for the latest builds just keep in mind they do not come with any warranty or guarantee of support.

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