When installing 14.04 from the mini iso, I have to select which kernel to use. I have simply been choosing linux-generic-lts-trusty without giving it much thought.

Should I choose one over another ?

Also, while we are talking kernels, is there an intel atom netbook optimised one available for Ubuntu, and if so should I really be using that ?

EDIT : I have added the kernel selection page screenshot.

Kernel selection

  • what options are you given? – Wilf Jun 26 '14 at 19:26
  • linux-generic, linux-image-generic, linux-image-lts-trusty and a few others. – hatterman Jun 28 '14 at 20:46

When I doubt, for a desktop, use the generic kernel. For a server use the server kernel.

If you are going to run a kernel that is optimized for your hardware, I suggest you compile your own. It is intimidating to do so, but, with modern options, it is not that difficult.

After you install ...

Get the source

mkdir ~/src
cd src
apt-get source linux-image-$(uname -r)

Install the necessary packages to compile

sudo apt-get build-dep linux-image-$(uname -r)

Now you have all the parts you need to compile. The ubuntu kernel source code has already been patched.

In the "old days" you would have to know your hardware and select what to optimize and what to compile. These days you simply run the following command in the kernel source directory

cp /boot/config-your_kernel_version .
make localmodconfig

localmodconfig will examine the modules you are using and compile those (so no need to know your hardware).

Generally the defaults from localmodconfig are fine. You can run

make menuconfig

and go to the CPU section and see what, if anything, applies to your CPU. If you do not understand the options, go with the default.

Then run

make install
sudo make INSTALL_MOD_STRIP=1 modules_install

And update grub, boot to your new kernel.




Note: my instructions deviate from the ubuntu wiki, the ubuntu wiki will build the generic kernel unless you change the scripts in the debian directory and the .config files. I modified the config with localmodconfig ;)

See also : https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Kernel/Compile#Reasons_for_compiling_a_custom_kernel

Note: It is highly unlikely you will see a performance boost over the generic kernel. You might be able to benchmark it, but it is not going to make unity, your desktop, firefox, or other applications run faster.

  • I have compiled my own kernels before and, in the CPU section, selected intel atom. Not sure I saw any improvements but this option must do something, no ? – hatterman Jun 28 '14 at 20:50
  • Of course it does something. As you said, I have not noticed a performance improvement either, you would have to run benchmarks. Only you can decide if it is worth the hassle – Panther Jun 29 '14 at 2:39
  • These links may interest you - sourceforge.net/projects/kernelnetbook and gossamer-threads.com/lists/linux/kernel/1120158 . From the second link "This is not needed because Atom is compatible to CORE2 (except for one instruction the kernel doesn't use)" – Panther Jun 30 '14 at 18:07
  • Thanks for the links. The same question does apply, however, to my desktop machines. What I will do is I will install from the mini iso into a VM and post the screenshot of the kernel selection page, see if anyone has any advice on selection. – hatterman Jul 4 '14 at 12:03

These are all generic kernels. But different versions.

In 14.04 `linux-generic' points to 3.13 kernels

quantal, raring and saucy should point to the same kernels, because these meta packages are for compatibility with upgrades from 12.04.

Now there are also utopic and vivid for 3.16 and 3.19.

I suggest installing 3.13 because it will be supported till 14.04 end of life, or vivid as the latest.

You can see life cycle of these kernels here:

enter image description here


In most cases, simply use the latest AND longest supported generic kernel. I made my own kernel, it is really small, but no real difference in performance. I lost some hardware support - if my computer fails in any way, I can fix it easily with the generic kernel, but not with the compiled one.

  • The recent Ubuntu Kernel roadmap can be found here – Nephente Oct 1 '15 at 11:51

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