When to update to a new Linux kernel

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rbsudo
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When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by rbsudo » Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:23 pm

I have read somewhere that updating to a new Linux kernel should be done with much awareness as it can create problems for your pc. I'm not sure how one, especially a newbie, is supposed to be able to make that judgement other than just by trial and error. I have an old Dell desktop that can be cranky about such things, and I did an update awhile back when the Update Manager presented it, and I had to do a reinstall back to my original LM. So on that desktop, I never update new kernal offerings. On some of my other desktops, it has not been a problem....... so far.

So I was wondering, how do members here approach Linux kernal updates when offered by Update Manager?
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xenopeek
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by xenopeek » Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:30 pm

You're recommended to install all security and kernel updates in a timely manner so as to keep your system safe. Continuing to use software with known security issues is, as you can imagine, a risk.

Updating your kernel is generally without risk. It is the rare exception that it causes issues. In such cases you can boot your previous kernel through the boot menu.

For new users we recommend you set up Timeshift to take snapshots of your operating system. Linux Mint 18.3 comes with Timeshift installed. You should find it in your menu, With Timeshift set up, you can roll back any update that causes problems. On Linux Mint 19 this is recommendation is integrated into Update Manager, which will remind users to set up Timeshift. That's a one time action.
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Moem
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by Moem » Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:33 pm

It's really simple: before you install a new kernel, make sure you know how to roll back to the previous one if the new one turns out to work for you.
When booting, GRUB will give you the option to boot to a different kernel than the most recent one. (Sometimes directly, sometimes in Advanced Options.) Once you have done so, you can use the Update Manager => View => The Linux kernel to remove the problematic kernel.
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by rbsudo » Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:46 am

Thank you both.... great suggestions. Have any of you, or anyone else here, ever tried to roll back, and what has been your experience..... was it a smooth thing or did it create problems like the warnings say?
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xenopeek
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by xenopeek » Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:59 am

I've never had to do so myself. Kernel updates are for the vast majority of people problem free, it's just rotten luck if you have a hardware or peripheral device on your system for which a kernel update has a bug.

Switching kernel versions though, yeah sure but for other reasons. Like Moem said, just pick an older kernel in the boot menu and you should be able to boot your system. If not, your second recourse is Timeshift to roll back the changes to your operating system. For that it is handy to have a Linux Mint installation DVD or USB stick around, as a rescue disk.
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by gm10 » Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:01 am

rbsudo wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:46 am
Thank you both.... great suggestions. Have any of you, or anyone else here, ever tried to roll back, and what has been your experience..... was it a smooth thing or did it create problems like the warnings say?
It's generally smooth. Preferably you use the PPA version of Timeshift though because the Mint-version has known bugs.

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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by Moem » Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:05 am

rbsudo wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:46 am
Thank you both.... great suggestions. Have any of you, or anyone else here, ever tried to roll back, and what has been your experience..... was it a smooth thing or did it create problems like the warnings say?
I've gone to a previous kernel before and it was smooth. I do not think the warnings mean that there will be problems after you roll back to a previous kernel; I believe they mean there may be problems that will make you need to roll back to fix them.

I have never gone back to an older Timeshift snapshot.
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by Pjotr » Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:17 am

Note that the -39 came very rapidly after the -38: oops, major bug fix! :mrgreen:
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by karlchen » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:45 pm

Pjotr wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:17 am
Note that the -39 came very rapidly after the -38: oops, major bug fix! :mrgreen:
Hm. My kernel versions look a bit different:

Code: Select all

$ inxi -S
System:    Host: voyager Kernel: 4.4.0-138-generic x86_64 bits: 64 Desktop: Cinnamon 3.2.7 Distro: Linux Mint 18.1 Serena
4.4.0-138, not just -38 or -39. :?
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by slipstick » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:23 pm

rbsudo wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:23 pm
ISo I was wondering, how do members here approach Linux kernal updates when offered by Update Manager?
I keep three three kernels installed - the active one and the two before that. So when a new kernel update appears, I wait until I am finished using the computer for the day, and close all my apps, then:
1. Make a timeshift snapshot
2. Uninstall the oldest of the three kernels
3. Install the new kernel
4. Reboot
5. Log in, open a terminal and enter uname -a to make sure the new kernel is running
6. Test my email client and browser to make sure things seem to be working OK
In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they ain't.

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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by gm10 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:25 am

karlchen wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:45 pm
Pjotr wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:17 am
Note that the -39 came very rapidly after the -38: oops, major bug fix! :mrgreen:
Hm. My kernel versions look a bit different:

Code: Select all

$ inxi -S
System:    Host: voyager Kernel: 4.4.0-138-generic x86_64 bits: 64 Desktop: Cinnamon 3.2.7 Distro: Linux Mint 18.1 Serena
4.4.0-138, not just -38 or -39. :?
Pjotr was talking 4.15-series kernels. I'm not sure why it's being brought up at all though. OP did not ask about specific versions. Kernels will always keep receiving updates while they remain supported.

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michael louwe
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by michael louwe » Thu Oct 25, 2018 4:18 am

rbsudo wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:23 pm
I have read somewhere that updating to a new Linux kernel should be done with much awareness as it can create problems for your pc.
.
Yes for certain cases, eg if you are running LM 18.x on a 6 year old computer, you should not UPGRADE the Linux kernel from 4.4 LTS to 4.13 or 4.15 LTS. In general, a newer Linux kernel is for newer hardware enablement or support, eg the 8th-gen Intel/AMD processors require Linux kernel 4.17 or higher for full support. ... viewtopic.php?f=46&t=276748

If you are running LM 18.x on a 6 yo computer with Linux kernel 4.4.xxx LTS, you should install all the security UPDATES for kernel 4.4, eg to patch for the Meltdown and Spectre bugs. Linux kernel 4.4 LTS is supported by Ubuntu until April 2021.

It's possible that in April 2021 when your supposedly 6 yo computer becomes 9 years old, the newer Linux kernel 5.0 LTS that should come with LM 20 may no longer support the then quite old 9 yo computer = will need to buy a new computer or run another more compatible Linux distro, eg Linux Lite and Anti-X/MX-18. ...
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by smurphos » Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:22 am

michael louwe wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 4:18 am
rbsudo wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:23 pm
I have read somewhere that updating to a new Linux kernel should be done with much awareness as it can create problems for your pc.
.
Yes for certain cases, eg if you are running LM 18.x on a 6 year old computer, you should not UPGRADE the Linux kernel from 4.4 LTS to 4.13 or 4.15 LTS.
I think you are being way to generalist with your advice here michael. My main laptop is a 2011 model (purchased in 2012) with an intel 2nd generation processor and it runs fine on Mint 19 with a 4.15 kernel.

My media server laptop is a 2006 model with a Intel Core2 processor - runs fine on 18.3 with the 4.15 kernel.

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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by catweazel » Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:34 am

smurphos wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:22 am
michael louwe wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 4:18 am
rbsudo wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:23 pm
I have read somewhere that updating to a new Linux kernel should be done with much awareness as it can create problems for your pc.
.
Yes for certain cases, eg if you are running LM 18.x on a 6 year old computer, you should not UPGRADE the Linux kernel from 4.4 LTS to 4.13 or 4.15 LTS.
I think you are being way to generalist with your advice here michael.
I would agree somewhat, though I think 8 years is pushing hard up against the limit of what ought to work on a 4.15 kernel, but it's going to depend entirely on the specific machine. One machine will, one machine won't...
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by smurphos » Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:53 am

I'll be trying both of mine with a 4.18 kernel once at some point in the interests of experimentation - will see what happens.

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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by gm10 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:21 am

Agree with needless age-scare here. My desktop is 6 years old and has no problems with either Win10 or any version of Linux I ever ran on it.
smurphos wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:53 am
I'll be trying both of mine with a 4.18 kernel once at some point in the interests of experimentation - will see what happens.
4.19 mainline (to become LTS) is working smoothly on mine.

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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by catweazel » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:36 am

gm10 wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:21 am
Agree with needless age-scare here. My desktop is 6 years old and has no problems with either Win10 or any version of Linux I ever ran on it.
Not all hardware is created equally, nor are linux users :)
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by gm10 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:43 am

catweazel wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:36 am
Not all hardware is created equally, nor are linux users :)
Exactly, that's all we've been saying. There's no reason you should refrain from an upgrade solely based on age of your system alone. Regardless of age you should always test the live environment of a system you want to upgrade to before actually performing the upgrade to make sure it's compatible.
Last edited by gm10 on Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by catweazel » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:51 am

gm10 wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:43 am
catweazel wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:36 am
Not all hardware is created equally, nor are linux users :)
Exactly, that's all we've been saying. There's no reason you should refrain from an upgrade solely based on age of your system along. Regardless of age you should always test the live environment of a system you want to upgrade to before actually performing the upgrade to make sure it's compatible.
Indeed.
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Re: When to update to a new Linux kernel

Post by michael louwe » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:47 am

smurphos wrote:.
.
In general, the 2016-released LM 18.x should fully supports computers that were released from 2006 to 2015, ie from 1 year old to about 10 years old. Those more than 10 years old or newer than 1 year old may not be fully supported.

Computers released around 2015 or slightly earlier should be optimum for the 2016-released LM 18.x, eg in 2016, 1 to 3 yo computers that were released from 2012 to 2015.

Will your 2011-released computer be able to run smoothly on the 2022-released LM 21 or 2024-released LM 22.?
.
gm10 wrote:.
Will your 2006-released computer be able to run smoothly on the 2020-released LM 20 or 2022-released LM 21.?

My 2009-released HP Compaq Elite 8000 Mini Tower desktop could not run LM 18.1 in 2016. It has been running smoothly on LM 17.3 with kernel 3.13 LTS since 2016.

Similarly, 10 years old analogue TV boxes may become unusable in some advanced countries who have fully converted to Digital TV broadcasts; 2G handphones becoming unusable; and some 32bit OS and software, eg ... https://news.softpedia.com/news/amd-kil ... 3448.shtml - AMD Kills Off 32-bit Windows Drivers

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