Linux Kernel Updates


Should I update the kernel? We are always told how important it is to install updates but when it comes to the kernel the advice seems to be “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
What’s the general opinion?


with my own home “kit” I do every update, software, kernel or distribution upgrade recommended… on the work servers I manage? No… most times some tinpot half-arse vendor will say their “product” only “certified” to run on “x.xx” or some such lame reply… meanwhile glorified “security” managers chew my arse out because they’re not patched against spectre/meltdown et cetera… it was even worse at one job I had, “we only run on Debian wheezy with this kernel, using this ancient bug-ridden security risk release of nginx”, sheesh and this was even after stretch went “live”, but not one single scientific piece of reasoning behind this… it was infuriating and frustrating…


Unless you have a strong reason (like a newer version of kernel fixes a hardware problem), you should NOT try to manually ‘upgrade’ the kernel.
If your distribution provides a Kernel update, you should install it. Your Linux distribution takes care of the updates to your system including the kernel updates. Keep your system updated, install all the updates regularly and you should be fine.


or not look for the problems white firefox in the " Firefox and slow responds "
updating the kernel ? not always so good .
regards lars


If it prompts me to update the kernel in the distro update manager, I install it.


The happy medium for me is this: I always install the latest kernels, but if it weird instabilities crop up I boot into an earlier version. For example, I’ve noticed weirdness in the 14.15 series so I currently run 14.10-0.38, though I eventually check out the latest.

It’s easy to boot from different kernels in the grub menu, by selecting “advanced options”.

And although there is doubtless a way of doing this from the terminal, I like to use Grub Customizer. It’s a graphic application which IO originally started using to better manage a Widows?Linux dual-boot machine. It does have a germane feature: you can use it to always boot from the last selected entry.

This way I can install the latest kernels, but run the most stable ones.

To change which is your go to kernel simply boot into a different kernel and Grub Customizer will remember.


Hi abhishek,

I’m running Mint 18 and it gives levels for its updates. It has a rating of 1 to 5, with 5 being install with extreme caution. I have a host of 4 and 5 rated updates that I haven’t installed (including kernal updates). Am I being paranoid?


Yes ,indeed I always update anything available by :
sudo apt update
sudo apt dist-upgrade -f
When new kernel has been installed , followed by: sudo autoremove.
This ensures that only 2 kernels are remaining,thus keeping the distro clean ,hence removing all the cruft.

Frank EI7KS Wicklowham


You should update those as well. If you are afraid, use Timeshift and create a system snapshot so that you can easily recover IF anything goes wrong. Normally, everything should be fine.


+1 for autoremove suggestion.


Thanks and thankyou for creating this forum!


You’re welcome :slight_smile:


Before doing so it is wise to use TimeShift , that way if and in my experience it is a “big if” anything goes wrong with the kernel update, you can safely roll back without having to change things. I would do this even if you have set up TimeShift previously. Better safe than sorry


If you aren’t having hardware incompatibility issues i’d be better not to update kernel


totally agree , doe not fix if it is not broken , learnt from experience .


When the update manager propose an upgrade of the linux kernel, it also always propose 2 options: the kernel itself and the kernel headers as optional. What are the kernel headers and their purpose and are they really required or not?