Whether you are installing linux for you desktop or for your server, the first thing you should do after installation is update your kernel. You kernel is the backbone of Linux and updating it to the latest version will help ensure that all of your computer’s hardware will work with Linux. If you have a newer computer this could be vital to ensuring that the features of that computer are fully enabled. For example backlight keyboards, new Intel CPU features, wireless cards, better solid state drive access times, could all be held back in your new computer because the Linux kernel on your computer is too outdated to implement those features.
You can check to see what version of the the Linux Kernel you have by typing the following command into the terminal:
In my case I have 3.8.0-19-generic. Once I see that I can go to the website kernel.org which lists the latest version of Linux. I can see that the 3.9.9 version is out as a stable version.
From here I have two choices. I can either download and compile the kernel (advanced) or find someone who has compiled the kernel for my Linux Architecture. I am using Linux Mint 15 so I searched google for “Linux Mint 15 64 bit Kernel 3.9.9” and I promptly found this article with instructions.
Installing the Kernel in Mint/Ubuntu/Debian
If you’re using a Debian based 64 bit architecture (Mint, Ubuntu, and Debaian 64 bit Linux Distributions) you can get the 3.9.9 kernel files with the following terminal commands.
wget -c kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.9.9-saucy/linux-headers-3.9.9-030909_3.9.9-030909.201307031551_all.deb
wget -c kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.9.9-saucy/linux-headers-3.9.9-030909-generic_3.9.9-030909.201307031551_amd64.deb
wget -c kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.9.9-saucy/linux-image-3.9.9-030909-generic_3.9.9-030909.201307031551_amd64.deb
These commands get the necessary files to upgrade the kernel. To install the kernel run the command
sudo dpkg -i *.deb
This installs the kernel. To try the kernel out restart your computer. Now when you type the command
You should see the new version listed. For me updateing the kernel had one immediately noticable effect. My fn + f5 ad fn + f6 screen brighness keyboard combinations now work. A couple years ago updating the kernel allowed my new wireless card to work.
If you dual boot your computer you should be the GRUB bootloader menu with the undated kernel version. From grub you can also boot into “Previous Versions of Linux” to get your old kernel back. If something went wrong and the kernel doesn’t work well it is easy to rool your computer back. You can use the synaptic package manage/software manager to remove the kernel. Just search for the kernel version and mark for un-install.
Thank you Linus (the guy who invented the Linux Kernel).