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

The 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

You can find out which kernel is running in your system by typing uname -r in a terminal window.

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

Kernel versions

As development of Linux kernel proceeds new versions are 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 change it. 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.

There are a number of kernel "branches" available (see kernel.org for the current status). The latest stable branch is, as the name implies, the version of the kernel which has all the latest fixes, new functions and support for new hardware. There are other branches known as "LTS" (Long Term Support) branches. These are older versions of the kernel which can be used if the latest version proves problematic on older machines. These versions continue to have bug fixes and security updates applied but do not have the new functionality which can cause problems with older machines.

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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