New Linux Kernel Fixes Meltdown, Spectre

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 @ 11:01 AM gHale

The Linux 4.15 kernel series released, which is updated against the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities.

Linux kernel 4.15 has been in development for eight weeks, during which developers were redesigning the kernel against the two critical hardware bugs, Meltdown and Spectre.

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Linux kernel 4.15 is fully patched against Meltdown and Spectre, but only for the x86 and PowerPC (PPC) architectures. A GNU/Linux distribution with an Intel or AMD processor could mean it is vulnerable.

“It is worth pointing out that it’s not like we’re “done” with spectre/meltdown,” said Linux kernel creator and developer, Linus Torvalds, in a post. “There is more work pending (arm, spectre-v1, misc details), and perhaps equally importantly, to actually get the biggest fix for the indirect branch mitigations, you need not just the kernel updates, you need to have a compiler with support for the “retpoline” indirect branch model.”

In addition to the Meltdown and Spectre patches, Linux kernel 4.15 also comes with support for the RISC-V architecture, support for AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization, as well as support for the User-Mode Instruction Prevention feature on Intel CPUs.

Also, Linux kernel 4.15 improves video support and adds modesetting to the AMDGPU open-source graphics driver for supported AMD Radeon GPUs. Other than that, machines with the SATA Link Power Management feature get better power usage.

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