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Article from Issue 247/2021
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In the news: Apple M1 Hardware Support To Be Merged into Linux Kernel 5.13; KDE Launches the Qt 5 Patch Collection; Linux Creator Warns Next Kernel Could Be Delayed; System76 Updates Its Pangolin Laptop; New Debian-Based Distribution Arriveson the Market; System76 Releases New Thelio Desktop; and AlmaLinux Is Officially Available.

Apple M1 Hardware Support To Be Merged into Linux Kernel 5.13

Hector Martin has merged the initial support for Apple M1 hardware into the Linux SOC (System On a Chip) tree. Martin is the founder of Asahi Linux, a project to port Linux to Apple Silicon Macs. The project was started in 2020, using the M1 Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro hardware. The Asahi goal is "not just to make Linux run on these machines but to polish it to the point where it can be used as a daily OS."

Now that M1 support has been merged into the tree, it should make it into the Linux kernel for the 5.13 release (which should come sometime this summer). That does not mean, however, you'll be able to run Linux on Apple Silicon this summer. In fact, at the moment there is no timetable for full support. The reason for this is porting Linux to Apple Silicon is a daunting task. Because Apple doesn't release any documentation for the M1 hardware, everything must be reverse-engineered and drivers must then be written.

But as of April 8, 2021, the arm/apple-m1 branch has been merged into Linux-next (the holding area for code expected for the next kernel merge window. To view the code that has been merged, take a look at this SOC commit (https://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/soc/soc.git/commit/?h=for-next&id=0d5fe4b31785b732b71e764b55cda5c8d6e3bbbf). Although the Asahi Linux environment will now boot on the M1 hardware, it only provides serial and frame buffer console access. In other words, there's a long way to go. And, according to Martin, "we absolutely do not recommend buying M1 hardware for that purpose unless and until the Asahi project gets much, much farther down the road than it has managed so far."

KDE Launches the Qt 5 Patch Collection

At the end of 2020, Qt 6 was released to serve as the next-gen Qt application framework. This new iteration has made it possible to deliver more modern software and KDE has every plan to fully adopt this new release for the entire software stack.

However, KDE still very much relies on Qt 5 for both desktop and applications. With KDE's goal of migrating to Qt 6, they had to do something to ensure nothing falls by the wayside. To that end, KDE has decided (until Qt 6 adoption is finalized), to maintain a collection of patches for the Qt 5.15 release. These patches will include both security and standard fixes to make sure KDE continues to remain secure and stable.

Aleix Pol, KDE e.V. President said of this, "To transition to great future technologies like Qt 6 we need to have the peace of mind that our current users are catered for. With this patch collection, we gain the flexibility we need to stabilize the status quo. This way we can continue collaborating with Qt and deliver great solutions for our users."

As for Qt 6, the plan is to have support sometime in 2021.

To find out more about the KDE Qt 5 Patch Collection, read the official initiative (https://community.kde.org/Qt5PatchCollection). To find out where KDE stands with Qt 6, check out the Phabricator (https://phabricator.kde.org/project/board/310/).

Linux Creator Warns Next Kernel Could Be Delayed

Never one to mince words, Linus Torvalds has released the latest RC (Release Candidate) of the Linux kernel, while expressing a slight bit of concern the size might hinder a timely release. Torvalds went so far as to say, "I'm not overly worried yet, but let's just say that the trend had better not continue, or I'll start feeling like we will need to make this one of those releases that need an rc8." Most Linux kernels go through 7 Release Candidates, which are made available every Sunday.

This is the same kernel that Torvalds warned users to avoid when the first release candidate was made available (which was delayed, due to an ice storm). To that, Torvalds said, "This merge window, we had a very innocuous code cleanup and simplification that raised no red flags at all, but had a subtle and very nasty bug in it: swap files stopped working right. And they stopped working in a particularly bad way: the offset of the start of the swap file was lost. Swapping still happened, but it happened to the wrong part of the filesystem, with the obvious catastrophic end results."

With that issue resolved, the Release Candidates continued, unabated. But due to the ballooning size, Torvalds has grown concerned about getting the final release out on time. If nothing of note happens (and the size doesn't grow out of hand), the 5.12 kernel should be released in late April or early May.

Read Torvalds' original statement about the 5.12 kernel size (http://lkml.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/2103.3/05182.html).

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