Linus Torvalds announced availability Linux kernel 5.16 where it always announces it: the Linux kernel mailing list. Edition Linux 5.16 was postponed for about a week because of a beard in a red suit ((), which Torvalds points out in his post where he jokingly adds: . So what’s new? Linux 5.16 introduces a new kernel system called FUTEX2 or futex_waitv().
Thanks to the contribution of a partner like Collabora this feature could help improve the gaming experience on existing Linux ports, but more importantly, it also applies to Windows games running via Wine. This feature allows games to wait for multiple ‘futexes’ with a single system call, which should help reduce CPU resource utilization and increase FPS for many games.
Additionally, file system health reporting gets boosted thanks to a new fanotify-based API, although only the EXT4 file system is currently supported. This setting improves daemons to monitor the ‘health’ of the system by reporting to them only the first error that has occurred since the last error notification and then keeping track of the number of additional errors.
Each kernel update improves graphics support and version 5.16 is no exception as it offers DisplayPort 2.0 for AMD GPU driver for the next generation cards that advertise it. Further support for DG2 / Alchemist graphics and, in this regard, stable support for Intel Alder Lake S graphics (ie DG1).
Other significant changes include:
- Support for Intel AMX instructions
- Task scheduler for CPU ‘clusters’sharing the L2 / L3 cache
- ‘Memory Folio’ memory management feature
- Proactive memory recovery based on DAEMON
- Improved write congestion management
Elsewhere, Linux 5.16 provides support for Nintendo Joy-Con and Nintendo Pro controllers. Furthermore, a revision of the 2021 Apple Magic keyboard and the new Realtek 802.11ax driver have been made. Support for Microsoft’s Surface Pro 8, Surface Laptop Studio and (allegedly) Surface Go 3 has also been improved.
The side buttons of the Xiaomi Mi wireless mouse should now work as intended, as well as the DualSense LED on the Playstation 5 controllers (the full driver has been added in Linux 5.12). Wacom’s Intuos tablets get new improvements, and Nitrokeys aren’t missing either, as they also get improved latest FIDO U2F. There are many other file system updates, kernel settings, driver additions, and network enhancements.
Linux 5.16 is free open source software. Distributions with new releases (as well as those with faster kernel releases – like Pop! _OS) will release this update in the coming days. Stable Branches distributions will vary, although most offer ways to easily install major kernels, albeit without any official support or stability assurance.
Downloading Linux 5.16
As already mentioned, Linux 5.16 is free open source software. You can download the latest edition from the official kernel.org website. Distributions with new releases (as well as those with faster kernel releases, such as Pop! _OS) will release Linux 5.16 as an update in the coming days. Fixed release distributions like Ubuntu vary. They don’t usually pack every kernel edition. Most offer a way to easily install the main line kernel, but this is without any official support or stability assurance – ie. not recommended.
 In computing, futex (short for “fast user space mutex”) is a call to a kernel system that developers can use to implement basic locking or as a building block for higher-level locking abstractions such as traffic lights and POSIX mutexes or conditional variables.
 Collabora Online is an open source office suite that can be integrated into any web application, and was developed by Collabora Productivity – a department of Collabora.
 Fanotify is a file access notification system built into many common Linux kernels. This kernel feature allows Sophos Anti-Virus to scan files for access and, if necessary, blocks access to threats.
 A background process that handles requests for services such as spooling print (sending data intended for printing or processing on a peripheral device) and transferring files and is idle when not needed.
 A computer cluster is a set of closely related computers that work together so that they can be viewed as a single computer.
 A daemon (or service) is a program whose purpose is to do something in the background, whether the user is logged on to a computer or not.
 Universal 2nd Factor is an open standard that strengthens and simplifies two-factor authentication using a specialized Universal Serial Bus or close communication devices based on similar security technology found in smart cards.
Writes: David Rabuzin