[Solved] Do I need microcode packages?

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FrankB616
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[Solved] Do I need microcode packages?

Post by FrankB616 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:28 am

Just doing a fresh Mint 19.1 install on a Lenovo slimline desktop, and have proceeded to the first update stage. Update manager is going to install AMD and Intel microcode packages. Do I need them?

My understanding is that microcode is hackable in both AMD and Intel processors, so it is disabled in recent times as a security risk. However, IIUC, this also slows performance on processors substantially.

This is a home machine connected to a home router that has all the 'bad' ports closed to the Internet. I don't run an Internet-facing server. Do the microcode packages slow my machine, and do I REALLY need them?

Thanks.

Frank.
Last edited by FrankB616 on Sat Sep 14, 2019 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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blueocean
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Re: Do I need microcode packages?

Post by blueocean » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:53 am

If it were me, I'd install them. Please make a Timeshift restore point before any major updates.
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gm10
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Re: Do I need microcode packages?

Post by gm10 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:59 am

The microcode updates bring Spectre/Meltdown fixes (among other fixes). As with all security patches, up to you whether you want to remain vulnerable, but the recommendation is of course to install them.
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jglen490
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Re: Do I need microcode packages?

Post by jglen490 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:15 pm

Yes, microcode like any code is hackable. The thing is the microcode PATCHES for the OS fix those vulnerabilities, and so it's advisable to install them. Microcode is not evil, it is just, well, code!
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Moem
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Re: Do I need microcode packages?

Post by Moem » Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:57 pm

The Updater brings updates for packages that you already have, it does not install new packages. Since you already have these packages installed, it's best to keep them up to date.
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Pjotr
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Re: Do I need microcode packages?

Post by Pjotr » Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:05 pm

Moem wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:57 pm
The Updater brings updates for packages that you already have, it does not install new packages. Since you already have these packages installed, it's best to keep them up to date.
Furthermore, the default microcode is part of the BIOS. So you always have to deal with microcode: there's no escape. Almost invariably, the microcode in the BIOS is horribly outdated and therefore insecure.

So you need to have the microcode package installed in your Linux as well, *and* you need to keep it updated. Usually no hurry with that, you can normally afford to wait a bit with updating your microcode, but at some point you'll almost certainly want to.
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Re: Do I need microcode packages?

Post by gm10 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:17 pm

Moem wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:57 pm
The Updater brings updates for packages that you already have, it does not install new packages. Since you already have these packages installed, it's best to keep them up to date.
It does install new packages as dependencies, but you get to confirm. The LM 19 and 19.1 installation images do not include the microcode, Update Manager installs that later along with a kernel update.
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Re: Do I need microcode packages?

Post by Moem » Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:38 pm

gm10 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:17 pm
The LM 19 and 19.1 installation images do not include the microcode, Update Manager installs that later along with a kernel update.
Ah, thank you.
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FrankB616
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Re: Do I need microcode packages?

Post by FrankB616 » Sat Sep 14, 2019 3:17 pm

Thanks, all.

I was more concerned with the performance hit that the microcode patches cause. I checked that out online, and it appears to be anywhere between 2 and 12% depending on what one is doing with a machine, and I don't do 'heavy lifting' with my machines anyway. Not enough to bother with is the general consensus.

BTW, I had already applied the patches when I posted this thread. I was just wondering what kind of slowdown to expect.

Anyway, the topic is addressed as far as I need it to be, so I will mark it solved at this point.

Thanks again.

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