WireGuard VPN is a step nearer to mainstream adoption

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Jim Salter

As of this morning, Linux network stack supervisor David Miller has taken over the WireGuard VPN project into the Linux source tree "net-next". Miller manages both net and net-next – the source trees that control the current implementation of the Linux kernel network stack or the implementation of the network stack of the next Linux kernel.

This is an important step forward for the WireGuard VPN project. Net-next is dragged into the new Linux kernel during the two-week merge window, where it becomes a network. If WireGuard is already part of net-next, it means there should be a Linux Kernel 5.6 release candidate with built-in WireGuard in early 2020, subject to unexpected issues. The integration of WireGuard into the mainline kernel should lead to a much higher acceptance of projects and projects organizations that need virtual private networks.

Ordinary, everyday Linux users will probably not see WireGuard in the kernel until the end of 2020. Ubuntu is one of the faster mainstream distributions, and the next release of Long Term Support (LTS) is in April 2020. But the Linux 5.6 kernel and Ubuntu 20.04 will likely simultaneously have the status of a release candidate, so the inclusion in 20.04 seems unlikely. Preliminary release of Ubuntu 20.10 seems to be much safer if Canonical is using kernel version 5.6 or later for the first time. The integration of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is expected to take a year or more. The current RHEL 8.1 was shipped in May 2019 with the already 9-month-old Kernel 4.18.

Although highly speculative, it is also possible that WireGuard will end up in the kernel of Ubuntu 20.04 even without the 5.6 kernel. Donfeld offered to port WireGuard directly back to previous Ubuntu kernels. Dönfeld announced today that a version 1.0 WireGuard is "on the horizon".

While currently the most common in a Linux context, WireGuard is available on all major platforms and is very powerful, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and BSD. Although the highest performance is achieved through kernel execution, the Userland implementation still outperforms conventional VPNs such as IPSEC and OpenVPN with shorter connection times, lower latency, and significantly lower battery consumption.

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