Michael Ellerman, a Linux kernel developer, working for IBM, reported recently on the fact that a group of engineers from IBM and SUSE managed to enable kernel live patching support for the PPC64le hardware architecture.

The PPC64le instruction set architecture is a pure little-endian mode of the PPC64 (PowerPC 64-bit) platform, and it has been introduced along with the POWER8 family of superscalar symmetric multiprocessors, as a prime target for the technologies produced by OpenPOWER.

During the development cycle of the recently released Linux 4.6 kernel, the skilled IBM and SUSE developers put all the puzzle piece together and managed to get the kernel live patching feature to work for this architecture, but it looks like it didn’t officially make it into the stable Linux kernel 4.6 release.

“The ftrace changes were merged into 4.6, and the rest of the live patching support was merged into 4.7,” said Michael Ellerman in his blog post. “This means in 4.7 you can enable CONFIG_LIVEPATCH and start patching your kernel. It’s likely some distros will also backport the changes into older kernels.”

Full kernel live patching support for PPC64le coming in Linux kernel 4.7

Therefore, when the first RC (Release Candidate) version of the upcoming Linux 4.7 kernel is seeded to the public, expect to be able to enable the kernel live patching feature for the PPC64le architecture, which will allow you to patch the kernel without rebooting the system.

Linux kernel 4.7 development has just started and the first Release Candidate build should hit the streets this Sunday when Linus Torvalds will make his regular announcement. The changes have been already merged, but it is not recommended to test the kernel using the Git repositories just yet, so wait for RC1 to come out first.

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