Is kernel different in 19.3 if I upgrade instead of re-install?

Questions about Grub, UEFI,the liveCD and the installer
Forum rules
Before you post please read how to get help
Post Reply
azalea4va
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:08 pm

Is kernel different in 19.3 if I upgrade instead of re-install?

Post by azalea4va »

I decide to upgrade from 19.1 to 19.3. Rebooted and I am still running the same kernel, 4.15.0-88-generic. I also downloaded the USb install image and it is running a 5.0 kernel. The "what's new" document says "this release ships with linux-firmware 1.173.9 and the Linux kernel 5.0." So I am assuming one gets a different kenel depending on whether one does an upgrade or one does a complete re-install.

If my assumption is correct, that does not strike me as a very good idea, unless prominently documented, because I think most of us would assume the only difference between an upgrade versus a re-install is one does not have to re-configure all the custom settings. If the kernel is diffferent, I am wondering what else might be different?

I know I have the option to upgrade to 5.0 in the update-manager. That is not the point. The "stock" version for 19.1 is a 4.15 kernel. What is the "stock" kernel for 19.3? Whatever it is, why do the two different ways of upgrading to 19.3 leave one with something other than the "stock" kernel?
User avatar
karlchen
Level 21
Level 21
Posts: 13538
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:21 am
Location: Germany

Re: Is kernel different in 19.3 if I upgrade instead of re-install?

Post by karlchen »

Cf. [SOLVED] LM 19.3 upgrade vs clean install kernel version, please.

In fact, it is by design and for good reasons that it is possible to stick with the LTS kernel series 4.15.0-xx, when in-place upgrading from LM 19.x to LM 19.3.
Replacing the LTS kernel series 4.15.0-xx on a machine, where it runs properly, with a short term kernel series like 5.0.0 (dead by now) or 5.3.0 (dead soon as well), is not necessarily a smart step for everyone.
(In fact it only makes sense, if your hardware is not supported properly by LTS kernel series 4.15.0-xx. In all other cases your machine might work no better on kernel 5.3.0-xx than on 4.15.0-xx, it might even work worse. But you are free to do so e.g. via Update Manager - View - Linux Kernels)

Oh, before I forget:
LM 19.3, if installed from the ISO image (fresh installation), comes with kernel 5.0.0-32. K5.0.0-32 is dead as a dead mouse by now. Update Manager will hence urge you to change to short term kernel 5.3.0-xx.
Image
Linux Mint 19.3 64-bit Cinnamon, Total Commander 9.51 64-bit
Haß gleicht einer Krankheit, dem Miserere, wo man vorne herausgibt, was eigentlich hinten wegsollte. (Goethe)
fabien85
Level 7
Level 7
Posts: 1810
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:30 pm

Re: Is kernel different in 19.3 if I upgrade instead of re-install?

Post by fabien85 »

+1 on Karlchen's answer, I'm just adding some exegesis

You get different kernels between an upgrade and a clean install because these are 2 different processes with two different paradigms.
One important point is that Mint is conservative in terms of upgrade. An example consequence is that upgrade is officially supported between minor/point releases (19 to 19.1, 19.2, 19.3) but for major releases the tool is provided without official support / at your own risk (e.g. to go from 18 to 19,. It will probably be the same to go from 19 to 20).

So
- upgrade takes as little risk as possible to break the system.
Because changing kernel series can introduce regressions (sometimes up to the point of preventing the system to boot), the upgrade does not take the decision to change. That decision is left for you.
- clean install is a different thing.
There is no (yet) data to protect, the user is in control and (hopefully) knows what they are doing and can try again.
One objective of new releases is also to support new hardwares which were not (or imperfectly) supported previously. One key element of this is a new kernel.

I hope that clarifies
azalea4va
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:08 pm

Re: Is kernel different in 19.3 if I upgrade instead of re-install?

Post by azalea4va »

Thank you for the explanation. That is what I thought was probably the case.

For the future, let me make the following suggestion. There is an installed product(distribution/version) and there is the auxillary stuff that goes with it. You say there is a difference between an upgrade and an install. I agree. An upgrade preserves all of ones current settings, added installed packages, account entries, etc. An install eliminates any possibility of cross version inconsistencies, wipes out accumulated junk (a house cleaning), for multiple systems brings them back to the same starting point, etc.

But those differences are independent of the product. Think of it this way. There are two things of interest here: the product that the system ends up running and the process by which the delivery of the product is achieved. Regardless of the delivery mechanism, I must decide if I want a product that is "safe". Products with the same version name/identifier should be the same regardless of the delivery mechanism (IMHO).

Let me say more about my use of the word "safe". Obviously any installation of something new represents risks, but safe means the transition is considered to be below a certain level of risk. It was stated that upgrading to the 19.3 version with the 4.15 kernel is considered a safe change. You are saying introducing the 5.0 kernel is not considered safe and I am happy to go along with that. I would assert that regardless of the delivery mechanism, 19.3 with 5.0 kernel is a different product and not a safe one. And that in and of itself represents a problem with what has been described. Look at this from the point of view of someone who is starting with Mint and not moving from one version to another. One of the foundations of Mint is that it is a safe distribution. I was always under the impression that I can come to the Mint website and get a safe distribution. But what you are now telling me is that clients must do research because some versions that can be downloaded are safe (19.1) but some are not (19.3). How is a client supposed to know which versions are safe? The idea that the most recent downloadable version is running a kernel that is "dead as a dead mouse" does not make sense to me and is inconsistent with Mint principles as I understand them

There are a number of alternative ways of dealing with the stated objectives without using 19.3 to represent two different products. You can have 19.3 and 19.3x. You can have 19.3 and 19.4, where even numbers are used for versions with cutting edge components. Or (my preference) there could have been just 19.3 but when installed from the ISO, the kernel installed was 4.15 (with users having the option of switching to another riskier kernel).

That to me is a cleaner way of looking at the situation, FWIW.
Post Reply

Return to “Installation & Boot”