Is the Linux 4.18 kernel heading your way?

The recently released 4.18 Linux kernel has already moved up to 4.18.5. How soon it lands on your system or network depends a lot on which Linux distributions you use.

How soon the 4.18 kernel lands on your system or network depends a lot on which Linux distributions you use. It may be heading your way or you may already be using it.

If you have ever wondered whether the same kernel is used in all Linux distributions, the answer is that all Linux distributions use the same kernel more or less, but there are several big considerations that make that "more or less" quite significant:

  1. Most distributions add or remove code to make the kernel work best for them. Some of these changes might eventually work their way back to the top of the code heap where they will be merged into the mainstream, but they'll make the distribution's kernel unique — at least for a while.
  2. Some releases intentionally hold back and don't use the very latest version of the kernel in order to ensure a more predictable and stable environment. This is particularly true of versions that are targeted for commercial distribution. For example, RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Edition) will not be nearly as aggressively updated as Fedora.
  3. Some distributions use a fork called Linux-libre, which is Linux without any proprietary drivers built in. It omits software that does not include its source code, has its source code obfuscated, or is released under proprietary licenses.

What is

In case this URL isn't familiar, is the website of the organization that distributes the Linux kernel and other open source software to the public without charge. The site provides kernel archives where anyone can download source. And, yes, even you can go and download source code for Linux.

The latest stable version is currently 4.18.5. The site provides extensive and easily navigated directories that can shed as much light on the Linux kernel as you might care to absorb. That includes the ability to view individual files that represent portions of the code base or download past or current releases.

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