Now that Linux kernel 5.3 is officially released we take a quick look at the new and notable changes this kernel update brings.

Linux 5.3 was announced by Linus Torvalds on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (lkml) in the founder’s trademark modest style. No major “quotable” quips from Linus thus time around, save for background on the unplanned eighth release candidate.

Linux 5.3 introduces early support for AMD Navi GPUs, and makes 16 million new IPv4 addresses available

This release follows the well-received Linux 5.2 release back in July and comes with a raft of improvements, optimisations, and new hardware support.

For instance, Linux 5.3 introduces early support for AMD Navi GPUs, makes 16 million new IPv4 addresses available, and is compatible with Intel Speed Select used in Intel Xeon servers.

Some 2015 era MacBooks and MacBook Pros should get working keyboard and touchpad support with this release, courtesy of Apple SPI driver updates, while Linux tinkerers will appreciate the inclusion of a CPUFreq driver for the Broadcom SoC in the Raspberry Pi.

Also on the hardware front, some new drivers aimed at Chrome OS (which is a Linux distro, after all) and custom Chromebook hardware, such as a lid angle sensor driver, feature as well.

Among the new bits of kit supported in Linux 5.3 is the Saitek R440 Force WheelUgee Rainbow CV720Wacom MobileStudio Pro, and Wacom 2nd-gen Intuos Pro Small graphics tablets, and the Logitech MX3000 (27MHz) receiver.

Other changes at a glance:

  • Initial support for AMDGPU Navi, including the Radeon RX 5700
  • Turing TU116 support in Nouveau
  • 16 million new IPv4 addresses
  • Intel HDR display support for Icelake, Geminilake
  • Compute shader support in Broadcom V3D driver
  • RISC-V code improvements
  • Utilisation clamping support in task scheduler
  • Improved support for the NVIDIA Jetson Nano
  • MacBook & MacBook Pro keyboard support
  • Intel UMWAIT support
  • Support for x86 Zhaoxin processors
  • Native file SWAP in F2FS
  • EXT4 Speed improvements for case-insensitive look-ups

And much, much more.

Want to Install Linux 5.3 on Ubuntu? Don’t

Wondering how to install Linux 5.3 on your system? Well, that’s a bit of a recommendation grey area.

In theory it’s best to wait for your distribution to rebase, update and integrate this kernel release any distro-specific patches they carry.

Ubuntu 19.10, out next month, includes a new Ubuntu kernel based on Linux 5.3 — and that kernel update will find its way in to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS via the Hardware Enablement Stack (HWE), due later this year.

That said you can install a mainline kernel on Ubuntu, Linux Mint and related distributions — it is simply not recommended. If want to ignore that caution and do it anywhere, you’ll find the relevant files in this repo.