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For first time in 31 years, stable Linux kernel version has over 999 commits – but not everyone heard about it


A small SNAFU in Linux kernel land meant that a notification regarding the stable review cycle for the 5.16.3 release didn’t reach everyone it should have.

For the first time in the 31-year history of the Linux kernel, there were over 999 commits to a stable version, which caused a very minor problem.

Greg Kroah-Hartman, lead maintainer of the -stable branch, has a set of scripts which CC various interested parties when there’s been a new release.

“Usually I split big ones out in two releases over the week,” he told The Reg. “This time, I did it all at once to see what it would stress. The ‘bug’ of not copying some people on an email is the only thing that broke that I noticed, so we did pretty well.”

He told the kernel development mailing list: “Found the problem, this was the first set of -rc releases that we have over 999 commits and the script was adding the cc: to msg.000 not msg.0000. I’ll fix this up.”

At any given point in time there are multiple releases of the Linux kernel – one in the prepatch stage, where it’s actively being put together and hasn’t been released yet; the mainline kernel, which is the last version to be released and given a version number; and one or more stable versions, older ones that predate the current mainline release. (There are also longterm releases which are kept up to date with important bugfixes for years.)

Somewhat belying their name, stable releases still get frequent updates, usually about once a week. This is denoted by the third part of their version number. So, at the time of writing, the mainline version is 5.17-rc1 (release candidate 1), the stable version is 5.16.3 (the third release of stable kernel 5.16), and the newest long-term release is 5.15.17 – a significant version which for the first time included an in-kernel NTFS driver.

The various versions, release dates, and downloads are always visible on kernel.org. ®

Bootnote

Thanks to reader Alan Wylie for the heads-up.



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