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Old 09-28-2018, 02:54 AM   #1
byebyemrgates
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Question Should I always upgrade the kernel


A basic newbie question - should I always upgrade the kernel?
I've read some conflicting opinions, especially while researching about my video playback and sound issue (https://www.linuxquestions.org/quest...nt-4175639162/
Some people suggest that, for example, for my Mint 18 the latest ketnel 4.15 "might not work"
So should I stop updating the kernel from now on?...
thanks!
 
Old 09-28-2018, 04:03 AM   #2
hydrurga
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There are two types of "upgrading" - upgrading to a new branch (e.g. 4.12 to 4.15), and upgrading within a branch (e.g. 4.15.0-33 to 4.15.0-34).

I definitely recommend the latter as the latest kernel versions within a branch can include security updates.

Personally, I also do the former as I want to see if my hardware is compatible with new branches sooner rather than later, plus a new branch may contain fixes and enhancements that benefit me. If you are on a long-term supported branch though (and that means long-term supported by your distro), and your hardware works, you don't need to do this.

If a particular kernel doesn't work with your hardware, which can happen on rare occasions, you can always boot up off the previous kernel using the boot Grub menu, remove the latest kernel and then skip that one.
 
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Old 09-28-2018, 07:05 AM   #3
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Most package managers will provide automatic updates where it is just a new build of the branch. I agree with Hydrurga that you should always use these. Strictly speaking though, they are not updates because the new kernel does not overwrite the old one; it is installed alongside in case it causes a problem at boot.

When it comes to a genuinely new kernel, especially a new major version, there is a lot more disagreement among users. Personally, I don't use these unless there is a real security scare like Meltdown or Dirtycow. Even then, if you are on a long-term-support (LTS) kernel, security patches will be packported. Remember too that if you are going to build stuff locally, your installed kernel headers must stay in step with your glibc, even if you are booting with a more advanced kernel.
 
Old 09-28-2018, 01:02 PM   #4
jefro
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Part of many distro's is a way to revert to a prior kernel. You may wish to view the changes posted for each version and make note of things that may affect you. The changes offer security, drivers, improvements, bug fixes but also can remove things.

I tend to keep kernels as well as system up to date.
 
Old 09-28-2018, 01:16 PM   #5
jsbjsb001
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Most Linux distributions will include things like security patches in the kernel packages for said Linux distributions. So you will get whatever patches there are available for the kernel compiled into the kernel. So the biggest benefit of upgrading from one major version to the next would be whatever new "features" that next major kernel version has. You would also get updated drivers with a higher major version of the kernel.

If you're having problems and it's due to a driver, then yes, that could fix the problem in that case. I had to upgrade the kernel on my system to get better support for my TV tuner, as it would not find any channels before I upgraded the kernel. Because the major version I upgraded to had a better driver for it.

Personally, if all my machines hardware is working properly, then I see little need to upgrade the kernel - either the major or the minor versions.
 
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Old 09-28-2018, 01:23 PM   #6
fatmac
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Not sure how many people have actually been hacked by these latest 'scares', but I haven't personally heard of anyone, or read of anyone on here being affected, so I tend to just upgrade if it is of use to me.
 
Old 09-28-2018, 02:12 PM   #7
hydrurga
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsbjsb001 View Post
Most Linux distributions will include things like security patches in the kernel packages for said Linux distributions. So you will get whatever patches there are available for the kernel compiled into the kernel. So the biggest benefit of upgrading from one major version to the next would be whatever new "features" that next major kernel version has. You would also get updated drivers with a higher major version of the kernel.

If you're having problems and it's due to a driver, then yes, that could fix the problem in that case. I had to upgrade the kernel on my system to get better support for my TV tuner, as it would not find any channels before I upgraded the kernel. Because the major version I upgraded to had a better driver for it.

Personally, if all my machines hardware is working properly, then I see little need to upgrade the kernel - either the major or the minor versions.
Minor versions include security updates. Why would you want to ignore those?
 
Old 09-28-2018, 02:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by byebyemrgates View Post
A basic newbie question - should I always upgrade the kernel?...
So should I stop updating the kernel from now on?...
thanks!
Unless there's specific problem that a new kernel addresses explicitly, I'd say don't and stop.

https://sites.google.com/site/easyli...kernel-updates
A very good site for quality technical info on most things Mint.
A seasoned veteran of the LMForums is the author and maintainer of that site.

See also https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Kernel

Last edited by Habitual; 09-28-2018 at 02:32 PM.
 
Old 09-28-2018, 02:34 PM   #9
jsbjsb001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hydrurga View Post
Minor versions include security updates. Why would you want to ignore those?
I wasn't trying to say people should ignore minor updates, just I don't personally bother to update the kernel. If you tell your package manager to update all packages and there is a update for the minor version to the next minor version, then the kernel package should be selected along with any other packages anyway. So unless you explicitly de-select the kernel package from being updated, then it will still get updated to the next minor version anyway.

I use the elrepo kernel on my system and the elrepo repo (excuse the pun) isn't enabled by default on my system (intentionally), so the kernel package would only get updated if I explicitly tell yum to update it - minor or major version.
 
Old 09-28-2018, 03:12 PM   #10
hydrurga
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsbjsb001 View Post
I wasn't trying to say people should ignore minor updates, just I don't personally bother to update the kernel. If you tell your package manager to update all packages and there is a update for the minor version to the next minor version, then the kernel package should be selected along with any other packages anyway. So unless you explicitly de-select the kernel package from being updated, then it will still get updated to the next minor version anyway.

I use the elrepo kernel on my system and the elrepo repo (excuse the pun) isn't enabled by default on my system (intentionally), so the kernel package would only get updated if I explicitly tell yum to update it - minor or major version.
The thing with Mint 18.x is that you can do exactly that, disable all kernel updates, including minor ones, by specifying only specific levels of updates to be accepted. If you do that, you miss the kernel minor version security updates.

Mint 19 changed all that, with the idea that everything should be installed and if anything does go wrong then you can roll back with TimeShift or reboot onto an older kernel, and then take action to make sure that the specific kernel/update that is causing problems isn't installed.

The OP's sidebar says that they are on Mint 18.3 (among other systems), so if that is the case then I would advise them, kernel-wise, to install minor kernel updates. Probably also to install TimeShift (ensuring that they have enough disk space for the snapshots).
 
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Old 09-28-2018, 03:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hydrurga View Post
The thing with Mint 18.x is that you can do exactly that, disable all kernel updates, including minor ones, by specifying only specific levels of updates to be accepted. If you do that, you miss the kernel minor version security updates.

Mint 19 changed all that, with the idea that everything should be installed and if anything does go wrong then you can roll back with TimeShift or reboot onto an older kernel, and then take action to make sure that the specific kernel/update that is causing problems isn't installed.

The OP's sidebar says that they are on Mint 18.3 (among other systems), so if that is the case then I would advise them, kernel-wise, to install minor kernel updates. Probably also to install TimeShift (ensuring that they have enough disk space for the snapshots).
I don't think I could disable kernel updates if I used the default repo's (and therefore the default kernel) in CentOS. But, yum does keep older installed versions, so if you did say update to the next version (minor or major versions as far as I know) then you would be able to just choose a different version at the GRUB screen and boot into it.

Because I don't use the default kernel (and the default repo it's in for the kernel), even if I did update all packages, it would not update the kernel - because yum knows that the elrepo kernel is being used instead.
 
Old 09-28-2018, 04:04 PM   #12
hydrurga
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsbjsb001 View Post
I don't think I could disable kernel updates if I used the default repo's (and therefore the default kernel) in CentOS. But, yum does keep older installed versions, so if you did say update to the next version (minor or major versions as far as I know) then you would be able to just choose a different version at the GRUB screen and boot into it.

Because I don't use the default kernel (and the default repo it's in for the kernel), even if I did update all packages, it would not update the kernel - because yum knows that the elrepo kernel is being used instead.
Interesting to learn, jsb.

That actually reminds me of something I should mention to Mint users. In Mint 18.x, older kernels are not deleted automatically, so you may end up with a large number of older kernels installed. This may affect space, especially if you have a separate /boot partition, so you might consider pruning them from time to time. In Mint 19.x, there will normally only be two kernels installed, the current active one and the previous one.
 
Old 09-28-2018, 04:21 PM   #13
jsbjsb001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hydrurga View Post
Interesting to learn, jsb.
Don't say that, everyone will be coming here...

Quote:
That actually reminds me of something I should mention to Mint users. In Mint 18.x, older kernels are not deleted automatically, so you may end up with a large number of older kernels installed. This may affect space, especially if you have a separate /boot partition, so you might consider pruning them from time to time. In Mint 19.x, there will normally only be two kernels installed, the current active one and the previous one.
I think yum has a limit of how many older kernels it will keep too - I'm not really sure what that limit is off-hand but. I don't bother having a separate /boot partition personally.
 
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Old 09-28-2018, 07:28 PM   #14
JeremyBoden
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Mint 19 (and all the other Mints) allows you to view potential updates.
Nothing gets automatically installed (although I believe its possible to make it do that).

I always get Mint to list all outstanding updates including kernel updates.
But kernel updates & other updates with potentially life-changing consequences require me to actively choose them.

I tend to leave them for a couple of weeks before applying anything major - just in case they cause problems for other people.
A bit selfish, I suppose.
 
Old 09-29-2018, 06:27 PM   #15
byebyemrgates
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Habitual View Post
Unless there's specific problem that a new kernel addresses explicitly, I'd say don't and stop.

https://sites.google.com/site/easyli...kernel-updates
A very good site for quality technical info on most things Mint.
A seasoned veteran of the LMForums is the author and maintainer of that site.

See also https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Kernel
Thanks a lot!
One last question - after reading the guide you posted the link to - it mentions that
Quote:
You can disable the visibility and (pre)selection of kernel updates (for example if you don't want to break a driver that you've installed manually).
I installed a couple of drivers form manufacturer's website; in particular, I had some trouble installing and configuring stuff for a industrial Cannon printer in one office. So I don't want to lose all that work that went into setting it up.
Does that mean I should NOT be updating the kernel?
thanks!
 
  


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