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Linux 4.16 arrives, bringing more Spectre and Meltdown fixes

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Image: Aalto University/YouTube

The latest version of the Linux kernel, 4.16, has arrived, bringing with it more fixes for the Spectre and Meltdown flaws.

Linux creator Linus Torvalds had been hoping for a “normal and entirely boring release cycle” for 4.16 after the excitement of the last Linux release, 4.15, being dominated by Spectre and Meltdown patches.

It seems that he almost got his way: while there was a last-minute influx of networking updates in release candidate 7 (RC7) of 4.16, it seems there was nothing to stop Torvalds from going ahead with the launch on 1 April.

“So the take from final week of the 4.16 release looks a lot like RC7, in that about half of it is networking. If it wasn’t for that, it would all be very small and calm,” Torvalds wrote in the release announcement.

“We had a number of fixes and cleanups elsewhere, but none of it made me go ‘uhhuh, better let this soak for another week’,” he said.

Now read: How to build a successful career in cybersecurity (free PDF)

“Outside of networking, most of the last week was various arch fixlets (powerpc, arm, x86, arm64), some driver fixes (mainly scsi and rdma)and misc other noise (documentation, vm, perf),” he added.

As Torvalds acknowledged when Linux 4.15 went live “it’s not like we’re ‘done’ with Spectre/Meltdown” and, as well as the networking updates, as detailed by Phoronix, the latest version of the Linux kernel includes more fixes for Spectre and Meltdown exploits against 64-bit, Arm-based processors and the S390 Spectre defense, called ‘expoline’.

Recent and related coverage

Linux performance before and after Meltdown and Spectre fixes
The patches, as expected, brought Linux’s performance down, but their impact has not been as bad as feared.

Linux 4.15: Good news and bad news about Meltdown and Spectre
Linus Torvalds released the next version of the Linux kernel and, while are things are better with the chip security problems Meltdown and Spectre, more work needs to be done.

Linux and Intel slowly hack their way to a Spectre patch
Fixing the chip security holes Meltdown and Spectre will take a long, long time, but Linus Torvalds and Intel developers are slowly moving to answers for Linux.

Meltdown fix’s ‘massive overhead’ will slow Linux systems, warns Netflix engineer (TechRepublic)
Brendan Gregg describes the impact of updates to the Linux kernel that work around Meltdown as demonstrating the “largest kernel performance regressions I’ve ever seen”.

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