Later addition to the question:
1) This question can't be reduced to a single sentence, don't ask me to do it. It might be rewritten in many different ways, but no one is easy.
2) You must have understood the question, not just have read it. (See the difference?) Otherwise you are guessing. Therefore you can't just scan the text for question marks, such may be used in different ways. The extra information tells you what I already know, in that way we can avoid to give/get answers I already have. It saves time for both of us.
3) If the question is to long, to complicated, need a boring research or you don't have clue about the answer. Please leave it to someone else.
The question itself - with some corrections
Well, I have been wondering about this for a while and a plain answer have been impossible to find. It is mainly about how the kernel is developed and maintained. I'm using Xubuntu 12.04. (kernel 3.2) And I'm aware of later LTS-kernel versions.
The background to the question is that I have a fairly new motherboard. (ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0.) Of course it was bundled with a set of Windows drivers. But the solution for Linux was far easier. It just said: Use the latest kernel.
The latest when I bought it was 3.8, I think. (Don't know for the release date.) Obviously easy to solve then, or not! I could of course download and compile the vanilla kernel, or use the latest ubuntu-LTS kernel. (3.11.x today.) But is that necessary? Doesn't the latest 3.2 kernel contain newer drivers as well as ordinary buggfixes? (Noticeably, the xubuntu team released 12.04.4 with the old 3.2 kernel instead for the updated 3.11.)
My uncertainty grew larger when I read about the Linux-firmware package. Maybe it is that instead of the kernel itself that is important?
I would be grateful if someone could explain this quite plain to me. If you know something about this, by now I think you also have understood what I need to know to get it right.
Best regards, Kenneth