I have the dreaded Intel 4965 (see signature for system specs) and am getting kernel panics every few days, sometimes daily. I tried installing the backports as suggested, but that didn't fix the problem. I also tried the compat-wireless approach, which I found by searching, but either I did it wrong or it did me wrong, because I ended up having to reinstall Mint.
I also from time to time get implausibly high CPU usage that can't be fixed short of a reboot, usually after having been on Firefox for a while, but I don't know if that's related.
Anyway, in hopes of eliminating this issue, I'd like to try getting a newer kernel, unless there's some reason not to. I assume that doing this doesn't wipe the old kernel, but just adds new boot options? Is this correct? I did a search and found some posts suggesting that if I add a new kernel, I'll also have to edit the boot menu to make sure the right initrd lines are there. So if I do all this, should I be relatively safe? I assume I can always still boot into the old kernel. Can you uninstall the newer kernel, or is it best just to remove the corresponding entries in the boot menu?
Having asked all this, I'm embarrassed to say I don't actually know how to do the kernel upgrade itself. Is it a level 4 or 5 in mintUpdate, and can I do it through this tool? Or is it better to do something like "sudo apt-get dist-upgrade" in Terminal?
All help gratefully received.