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I'm a newbie. I've just done my first Slackware install this week and am deep into learning.
After doing one fumbling install I am going to undertake another install to kind of cement what I am doing.
So what are opinions on installing the latest kernel? How important is it?
I have to admit that as a noob I am both attracted to the challenge of compiling a kernel, and a little nervous. I have read through some tutorial and the configuration part seems to me to be the tricky part.
If this post were in the Slackware forum, the answer would be "of course you do !!!!" ...
All levity aside, the subset of the animal kingdom that needs bleeding edge is probably quite small. Some of us like to play - you're welcome to do likewise.
I see no reason not to use the latest if you wish to dive in - just be aware that any problems might be of your own making, rather than with the code necessarily.
Keep your current kernel so you have something to fall back to.
If you are using Slackware for a desktop system, I would highly recommend updating to something in the 2.6 series. 2.4 is great of servers that _need_ stability, but the extra speed, low latency, and features of 2.6 really help on desktop systems. Plus, it's a good skill to have.
the later 2.6 kernels boot quite a bit faster, don't do a make install on the kernel.. it'll almost certainly screw up and if your kernel doesn't boot correctly for some reason (likely for your first shot at it.) you'll have no chance to fix it without a boot disk. copy the bzImage file and system.map manually and edit your boot loader configuration manually.
i use slackware and have found it to boot faster with a 2.6 kernel, and needs less options in lilo, and just generally works better. i dont have many "problems" with the 2.4 kernels, just hat 2.6s are faster and have more hardware support. i wouldnt say get the newest though. wait till they "cement", as you said, then kernel. 2.6.13 just came out. we dont know about bugs yet. everyone raved about the 2.6.12 til it was found to be buggy. then there were several subversion jumping out. i am still using the 184.108.40.206, and it is solid, and fast. i have uptimes that are months long, and this my desktop... which means i do alot of stuff on it. i have built and rebuild enlightenment dr17 several times, and havent even restarted, and it is a buggy window manager. it is choice, but the 2.6s are definately better than they were a year ago. i stand by them. i just dont stand by bleeding edge, cuase it is usually as stable as 2 year old gasoline, in a broiler. sometimes things are good, but sometimes not.
You only truly "need" the very latest kernel if it provides critical functionality that your current kernel lacks. Here's the test: if you can't specifically describe exactly what that functionality is and how its absence represents a security vulernability to your system, then No, you don't need the latest kernel. Basically, I'd suggest following the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school of thought.
That said, the educational benefits of knowing how to install and compile a new kernel are well worth it. Backup any important personal data, but if you want to mess around, I say go for it. I generally try to stay reasonably current with the kernel, but usually don't rush out to pick up the latest kernel. As for me, I'm usually a least a couple of versions behind. -- J.W.
Me, I don't need the 2.6.x kernel. I speeded up my boot process by disabling hotplug and ldconfig on bootup. My system is responsive, so I think the little amount of extra speed I once noticed when trying out 2.6.x wouldn't give me enough. After my first few months with slackware I began to do just the modifications I really needed and leave the rest as stable as it is.
If you have a special purpose, you could of course look if the 2.6.x kernel meets your needs for hardware support, crypto loopback etc.
yeah, 2.4 kernels are very stable and fast. i just like the ide-scsi just to burn a cd, and it doenst support my dvd burner as well. i would follow J.W.'s advice, if it "isnt" (aint aint a word) broken, dont fix it...