Kernel

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  • Relevant to PCLinuxOS 2016.06 MATE. However the basics will be relevant to other PCLinuxOS editions too.


Contents

This page deals with the types, installation and issues related to kernel in PCLinuxOS.


Introduction

Kernel is the most important component of PCLinuxOS. It is the middle man who facilitates various interactions between components of a computer such as hardware and applications. It is the fulcrum around which the whole operating system revolves.

Default kernel in PCLinuxOS

Kernel used by default in the most recent .iso of PCLinuxOS 2016.06 is 4.4.11. You can find out which kernel is running in your system by typing uname -r in Konsole.

[xxx@localhost ~]$ uname -r
4.4.11-pclos1
[xxx@localhost ~]$

Kernel versions

As development of Linux kernel proceeds, new versions keep on getting released. Newer versions generally mean better hardware support and may be more responsive. If all of your hardware works with the existing kernel you may not need to get a new one in general. However sometimes other major software components (e.g. drivers or Xorg) may require a minimum kernel version in order to work properly. When this happens an announcement is made in the forum instructing users to update their kernel.

On 32 bit there is a choice of 2 kernels. The stock i686 kernel supports up to 4GB of total RAM. If your system has 4GB of RAM or more then you will need to use the Physical Address Extension kernel (the packages have "pae" in the name) in order to use the full RAM available.


Installing a different kernel

It is important to note that the kernel is never updated as part of the the normal apt/Synaptic update process. This is because updating implies removal of the previous version. This would be bad news if the new kernel is not suitable for YOUR hardware! Instead, new kernels are added to the system (much like installing a new application). The new kernel becomes the default for the next boot but the previous version is kept in case of problems.

  • After doing a full Reload-Mark All Changes-Apply with Synaptic, search Synaptic for the keyword kernel-.
  • The kernel currently installed will have a solid box next to it. Select the newest/highest numbered kernel with the appropriate extension as per the scenarios described above that suits your machine best and Mark for installation and Apply.
  • Once Synaptic has finished you need to reboot to use the new kernel.
  • The first time you reboot after a new kernel it will take longer to boot because various modules need to be rebuilt to work with the new kernel. You can monitor this process by pressing escape to dismiss the splash screen. Subsequent reboots / startups will be normal.
  • When you reboot after installing a new kernel, it becomes the default kernel.
  • Older kernel is still installed and is available as a choice in the GRUB menu.

Grub2.png

Reasons to do a kernel update / change

  • Better hardware recognition
  • Better performance
  • Need to address more RAM
  • Miscellaneous - including but not limited to boredom with the existing kernel, adventurous lifestyle, need to fill lots of empty space in the harddrive etc.
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