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Upgrading Ubuntu LTS Kernel

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In the world of Linux, the kernel is the core of the operating system. It handles all the interactions between your computer’s hardware and software. As such, keeping your kernel up-to-date is crucial for the optimal performance and security of your system. This article will guide you through the process of upgrading the kernel in Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support) versions.

Quick Answer

To upgrade the kernel in Ubuntu LTS, you can use the apt-get command to install the latest kernel package specific to your LTS version. After installation, restart your computer for the changes to take effect. Alternatively, you can manually download and install specific kernel packages from the Ubuntu mainline kernel website, but this method is not recommended for most users.

Understanding the Ubuntu LTS Kernel

Before we delve into the upgrade process, it’s important to understand what the Ubuntu LTS kernel is. Ubuntu LTS versions are released every two years and are supported with security updates for five years. The LTS kernel, therefore, is the version of the Linux kernel that comes with these LTS releases.

Checking Your Current Kernel Version

Before upgrading, it’s wise to check your current kernel version. Open a terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T and type the following command:

uname -r

This command will display your current kernel version.

Upgrading the Kernel

Updating Package Lists

The first step in the upgrade process is to update your package lists. This ensures that you’re getting the latest available versions of all packages. Run the following command:

sudo apt-get update

Here, sudo is used to run the command with root privileges, apt-get is the package handling utility in Ubuntu, and update is the command to resynchronize the package index files from their sources.

Installing the Latest Kernel

To upgrade the kernel to the latest version available for Ubuntu LTS, run the following command:

sudo apt-get install linux-image-generic-lts-trusty

In this command, install is used to install new packages, and linux-image-generic-lts-trusty is the package name for the latest Trusty Tahr (14.04 LTS) kernel.

Please note that the package name may vary depending on the version of Ubuntu you are using. For example, if you are using Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, you would use linux-image-generic-lts-xenial instead.

After the installation is complete, you will need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

Manual Kernel Upgrade

If you want to upgrade to a specific kernel version, you can manually download the kernel packages from the Ubuntu mainline kernel website and install them using the dpkg command. However, this method is not recommended for most users, as it requires manual installation and does not provide automatic updates.

Reverting to a Previous Kernel Version

Upgrading the kernel can sometimes cause compatibility issues with certain hardware or software. If you encounter any problems after upgrading, you can always revert back to the previous kernel version by selecting it from the GRUB boot menu during startup.


Keeping your Ubuntu LTS kernel up-to-date is vital for the security and performance of your system. While the process may seem complex, it can be easily accomplished with a few commands. Always remember to check for compatibility issues and be prepared to revert back to a previous version if necessary. Happy computing!

How often should I upgrade my Ubuntu LTS kernel?

It is recommended to upgrade your Ubuntu LTS kernel whenever a new version is available. This ensures that you have the latest security patches and performance improvements. However, if your system is stable and you are not experiencing any issues, you can choose to stay with your current kernel until the next LTS release.

Can I upgrade the kernel without updating the entire Ubuntu system?

Yes, you can upgrade the kernel without updating the entire Ubuntu system. The process described in this article only upgrades the kernel packages. However, it is generally recommended to keep your entire system up-to-date to ensure compatibility and to benefit from the latest features and bug fixes.

How long does it take to upgrade the kernel?

The time it takes to upgrade the kernel can vary depending on your internet connection speed and the performance of your computer. Generally, it should take a few minutes to download and install the kernel packages. However, the restart process may take longer as your system reboots with the new kernel. It is recommended to save any unsaved work and close all applications before proceeding with the upgrade.

Can I revert back to my previous kernel version after upgrading?

Yes, you can revert back to your previous kernel version if you encounter compatibility issues or any problems after upgrading. During startup, you can select the previous kernel version from the GRUB boot menu. It is important to note that you should only revert back to the previous kernel if necessary and consult official documentation or support channels for assistance with any issues you may encounter.

How can I check if my hardware is compatible with the upgraded kernel?

To check if your hardware is compatible with the upgraded kernel, you can search for your specific hardware model and the kernel version online. Many hardware manufacturers provide information about kernel compatibility on their websites or support forums. Additionally, you can check the Ubuntu community forums or ask for assistance from the Ubuntu community if you are unsure about compatibility.

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