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I'm running Lubuntu 12.04 on an original EeePC. In Arch Linux there's a repository which provides a highly customized very light-weight kernel specifically tailored for that particular machine's hardware.

Is there anything which would prevent me from using that kernel with Lubuntu? I understand that I'll have to download it manually and configure GRUB myself.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

In general, the answer is "yes". You can always install an alternative kernel without breaking anything in your system. And since you can have multiple kernel alternatives that can be selected at boot time, you don't risk much: if your new kernel is not really working well with Ubuntu, you can always boot the system using the previous kernel.

However, the particular repository and package you mention are tailored to be used with the Archlinux distro. What that means is that while you can most likely use the tailored kernel with your Ubuntu system, you will run into problems when trying to install this kernel as a package, because Archlinux uses a different packaging system. I would not try to install that particular kernel package without understanding pacman.

Probably the best solution would then be to use the git archive (mentioned at the kernel-eee Archlinux page) to copy the package sources to your computer, and then compile and install the kernel manually. This is actually easier than it sounds, but nonetheless requires some skill and reading. Nothing for you if you just "want it to work".

Alternatively, google for "eeepc kernel Ubuntu", maybe there are packages already compiled for Ubuntu.

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Thanks for your answer - this actually worked out pretty well (i.e. manually unpacking and installing a kernel from an Arch package), I'll post detailed instructions later. – Sergey Aug 31 '12 at 0:23

Different distros most certainly do NOT use the same kernel, not the version nor the actual kernel even if the versions match, there are usually patches applied by many distros and they're compiled for different architectures and with different options.

Distrowatch lists the default kernel used by each of the distros it tracks.

"The Linux kernel" is a fairly complicated piece of software which can be compiled in a number of different ways. Basically, a configuration file is set up with a laundry-list of options, and this file subsequently determines exactly which blocks of source-code are or are not included in "the Linux kernel" for your system. (The same process also determines which "kernel modules" are built.)

Generally speaking, a distro writer will do all of that "heavy lifting" for you: they'll compile one or more kernels, using config options that they have carefully selected, and include those (in binary form) in their distributions. They might even include custom patches.

So, the answer to your question is "both 'yes' and 'no.'" Yes, several distros might use "Linux version X.Y.Z.," but No, they might not use the same configuration options when building it.1

I hope that this answers your question.

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I'm not sure the quote answers my question at all... I didn't ask "Is kernel version x.y.z from arch absolutely identical to the kernel version x.y.z from Ubuntu" - I'm pretty sure they are not, moreover, the kernel I wanted to try was newer than Ubuntu currently has. The question is more "are the kernels from different distros compatible" - which seems to be true, which is actually different from the rest of the system - userland applications are linked against a particular version of libc, for example, and would not work on another distro with different libc version. – Sergey Aug 31 '12 at 0:31
The middle part of the quote was more or less info about the kernel. The last 2 paragraphs, specially the last one answers it. From what I know, and I tell you its not probably as much as you do or any other users here, but if you build and compile it to your needs, it will work.:) Thanks for the comment. – Mitch Aug 31 '12 at 6:38

Ok, since I promised detailed instructions:

Arch packages are just .tar.gz files, so I downloaded and unpacked the kernel from the same URL which is used by Arch's package manager.

Inside the archive, there are boot, lib and usr directories, which contents I copied inside the corresponsing directories on my hard disk.

Then I looked into .INSTALL file and realized that I need to run

. usr/share/kernel-eee/currver

which supposedly "generated modules.dep and map files".

Then I added the kernel to the GRUB boot menu as described here, although as I remember the file I edited was different.

In my tests, the machine booted 5 seconds faster with the new kernel and used slightly less RAM than with stock Ubuntu kernel.

And it was fun :)

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