What is in a new Kernel?

I run Linux on everything, even 10 year old computers. The older computers always run perfectly. Why do I need updated Kernels for them, and if they don’t need to have the new kernels is there a way to keep them from installing the new kernels? I purge old kernels so they don’t pile up but ideally I’d like to just keep my perfectly running machines as they are

Keeping all software updated is paramount for good security.

Here’s a list of good security practices obtained from … US CERT
Consult your system support personnel if you work from home
Use virus protection software
Use a firewall
Don’t open unknown email attachments
Don’t run programs of unknown origin
Disable hidden filename extensions
Keep all applications, including your operating system, patched
Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use
Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible
Disable scripting features in email programs
Make regular backups of critical data
Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised

Top 10 from UCSC


Security patches.

If you are running 16.04 then you are locked into the 4.4 kernel for the next two years. Thats how the LTS releases work.


Occasionally they fix bugs and improve performance. :slight_smile:


I understand security updates, but what’s in a kernel they’re upgrading every 2 weeks that helps my old computers that already have no issues? I have 16.04 on one machine, because it’s the only way I could get the wifi working. Otherwise I’ve got 14.04 and 12.04 on the rest, which get the same security updates as 16.04.
If a kernel fixes something that’s not working correctly that’s one thing, but if I don’t need anything fixed I’d like to know how to turn off kernel updates to machines that don’t need them, or do they actually have a real function for security?

I noticed that the new releases each seemed a bit more responsive, especially 14.04 > 16.04
I’m not a developer, but I suspect that some older security updates are included in a new kernel.
I strongly suggest that you NOT turn off updates of any kind with the exception of ones that you absolutely KNOW will break your machine. Best practice keeping at least one older kernel around :wink:


I usually purge the old ones, but I never burn the bridge before going through the paces to make sure new ones work properly.
I guess my main concern is if the new kernels are slowing down my old machines with unnecessarily (for the old machines) bloating of hardware support and such of hardware they don’t have.
I’m a mechanic by trade, but I figure the more dead weight you get rid of in an operating system the faster you go…much like a car

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I upgrade all of my systems for convenience and to avoid confusion. For a while, I had some servers still running 10.04 and it became a problem remembering what worked on 10.04 vs. 12.04, 14.04, 15.10, etc.

While newer kernels are larger and include more support for newer hardware (and unfortunately drop support for some older hardware) I haven’t noticed any speed penalty. Improvements in threading and scheduling actually can speed things up.

Security updates are really only necessary if the boxes are exposed to the Internet. If you are comfortable with the security of your firewall then updating those old boxes may not be all that important.

On the other hand, I upgraded my 15+ year old boxes to 16.04 this week. Seems fine so far.

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Will these Hardware Enablement Stack updates include new drivers (which are for example only included in kernels newer than 4.7) so that I receive more support for very new hardware or are these simply minor adjustments of the 4.4 kernel? How long until we can expect 16.04.2?


There’s no word yet but at some point it will probably be advertised on this page.

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It won’t slow it down. Only resource it takes is a little disk space.