December 22, 2016

Linux Weather Forecast

Welcome to the Linux Weather Forecast

This page is an attempt to track ongoing developments in the Linux development community that have a good chance of appearing in a mainline kernel and/or major distributions sometime in the near future. Your "chief meteorologist" is Jonathan Corbet, Executive Editor at If you have suggestions on improving the forecast (and particularly if you have a project or patchset that you think should be tracked), please add your comments below. 

Forecast Summaries

Current conditions: The 4.9 kernel was released on December 11.  Some of the more prominent features in this release include:

  • Virtually mapped kernel stacks, a part of the ongoing kernel-hardening effort, will make the kernel far more resistant to certain types of attacks.
  • A new set of system calls supports the "memory protection keys" feature, which allows an application to divide its memory into zones and control what sort of access each zone allows.
  • The bottleneck bandwidth and RTT congestion-control algorithm promises to speed network traffic and make systems play better with available resources when there is a lot of congestion.
  • Support for the Greybus bus architecture has been added.  The project for which this code was developed has been canceled, but Greybus is likely to live again in other settings.
  • Shared extents in the XFS filesystem will enable the implementation of lightweight copy operations and more.

A total of 16,214 non-merge changesets were pulled into the mainline repository for the 4.9 development cycle, making this cycle the busiest in the kernel project's history.  See this article for details on where this code came from.

Short-term forecast: The 4.10 kernel can be expected in mid-February, 2017.  Some of the changes that will be found in this kernel are:

  • The long-awaited writeback throttling patches should improve system responsiveness in the presence of heavy writeback activity.
  • Mediated devices offer more secure access to physical devices on virtualized systems.
  • The UBIFS filesystem now supports filesystem-level encryption.
  • The kernel's integrity measurement subsystem can now carry the measurement list across a soft reboot, bringing an end to measurement failures in that setting.
  • Support for Intel's "cache allocation technology" has been merged.  This mechanism allows a system administrator to partition and control the usage of the system's memory caches; this can be useful to contain cache-hungry workloads or to ensure the availability of cache space for realtime workloads.

The 4.10 merge window is expected to close on December 25.

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