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The package hierarchy for Ubuntu kernel images looks like this:

linux-generic --> linux-image-generic --> linux-image-2.6.38-8-generic.

Both linux-generic and linux-image-generic are metapackages. I understand the purpose of having one kernel metapackage (to handle upgrades and multiple kernel versions), but what is the point in the second level? It seems that linux-generic only depends on linux-image-generic, so surely it is redundant?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes it iswas. But since Ubuntu 12.10 linux-generic depends both on image and headers metapackages:

linux-generic ─┐
               ├─ linux-image-generic   ─ linux-image-VERSION-generic
               │                        ┄ linux-image-OLD_VERSION-generic
               │                        ┄ linux-image-ANCIENT_VERSION-generic
               └─ linux-headers-generic ─ linux-headers-VERSION-generic
                                        ┄ linux-headers-OLD_VERSION-generic
                                        ┄ linux-headers-ANCIENT_VERSION-generic

But I cannot explain why it was that way over mutiple release cycles. If you look at Ubuntu package search and look at all versions you will see at least the Hardy linux-generic package depends on two meta-packages (-image-generic and -restricted-modules-generic).

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