Alpine 3.18 Tightens Kernel Security, Package Base Has Been Updated

Alpine Linux 3.18 is here, bringing an updated software stack for developers and desktop users. Upgrade now to experience the latest features!

Alpine Linux is known for its minimalistic approach, making it ideal for deployment in containerized environments, virtual machines, and embedded systems.

At the same time, while it is not a typical desktop-centric Linux distribution, thanks to its lightweight system’s design, it offers excellent choices for users seeking a sleek and fast desktop experience.

Recently, the distro released its latest version, Alpine 3.18, powered by Linux kernel 6.1.27, so let’s see what new has to offer us.

What’s New in Alpine Linux 3.18

One of the most significant changes in Alpine 3.18 is the tighter kernel security. This release includes signed kernel modules. This means they are signed cryptographically, and the signature is checked upon loading the module.

This improved kernel security by making loading unsigned modules or modules signed with an invalid key impossible. On top of that, all packages for ppc64le, x86, and x86_64 are now linked with the DT_RELR relative relocation format, which reduce the size of compiled binaries.

Now, let’s look at the desktop environments, where exciting things are waiting for users.

KDE Plasma 5.27

Alpine 3.18 KDE with Plasma 5.27.5 Desktop Environment
Alpine 3.18 KDE with Plasma 5.27.5 Desktop Environment

Alpine 3.18 includes the latest and greatest from this desktop environment, KDE Plasma 5.27.5, accompanied by the KDE Frameworks 5.105 and the KDE Gear 23.04 software collection maintained by the KDE community.

So, you get some exciting new features such as window tiling capabilities, a host of GUI enhancements enhancing the user experience, and more control over your desktop environment.

Be aware that Plasma 5.27 is the last to be produced using Qt5, so it will most likely be used in the upcoming Alpine 3.19.

GNOME 44.1

Alpine 3.18 with GNOME 44.1 Desktop Environment
Alpine 3.18 with GNOME 44.1 Desktop Environment

Alpine 3.18 also provides in its repos the most up-to-date GNOME 44.1, which offers a host of improvements in performance, stability, and user experience.

The desktop environment introduces new features such as an enhanced login/lock screen, thumbnail view in file picker, and settings panel improvements, making Alpine 3.18 a modern and great-looking Linux distribution.

Moreover, the GNOME meta-package was reworked and the packages “gnome-apps-extra” and “gnome-games-collection” were removed to avoid opinionated lists in meta-packages.

Updated Software Stacks

Speaking of Alpine, a Linux distribution aimed mainly at software developers, one of the things that always sits as the main focus is the version of the various development libraries and servers.

In this light, Alpine Linux 3.18 users will be pleased to see that they will find plenty of development tools have been updated, only mentioning:

  • Go 1.20
  • Node.js 20.1
  • Ruby 3.2
  • Rust 1.69
  • Python 3.11
  • PHP 8.2
  • Crystal 1.8

Furthermore, Docker has been bumped to version 23, and QEMU, a hypervisor for performing hardware virtualization, was updated from 7.1 to 8.0.

Finally, Alpine 3.18 ships with the updated Musl libc library to v1.2.4, which adds support for DNS lookups over TCP. If you are unfamiliar with Musl, it is a lightweight and efficient C library compatible with the standard C library but offers better performance and security.

The release announcement contains detailed information on all the changes in Alpine 3.18. Downloads are available from the project’s website.

However, if you’re already using Alpine, you must run the command below to upgrade your system to the most recent stable Alpine 3.18 release.

sudo apk upgrade --available

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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