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I see that when it comes to Ubuntu Linux & the linux kernel there is alot of rather confusing words used. If I look at "the linux kernel archives" website these kernels are source code & thus require you to compile the kernal from its source. I understand this completely. And that Ubuntu has its own kernel versions which are created by Canonical and developers etc. i.e. not the same.

However, the confusion I have is that many websites related to Linux & Ubuntu say its completely safe to install a kernel version which are tagged/labled as "unstable" surely this is wrong?

I have only downloaded & installed the stable version numbered kernels for ubuntu. My experience has been a stable system & have never had any problems. I just dont understand why so many people & websites are encouraging users to install mainstream/unstable kernels surely this is asking for trouble? or have I miss understood something here technically speak?

  • Could you link to the pages encouraging unstable use and mention their reasons behind the encouragement? – Oxwivi Oct 24 '15 at 17:55
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say its completely safe to install a kernel version which are tagged/labled as "unstable" surely this is wrong?

No, it is correct.

A new kernel (tested, untested, stable or unstable) is added to the currently installed kernels and each of them get a separate starting option in the GRUB menu. So if the kernel does not work you reboot and pick another one. All these kernels are kept separate from each other so they do not interfere with another kernel.

The only time you would run into trouble will be when you delete all the kernels except the newly installed one and then try to boot with only that kernel available. Nobody is going to do that, it would fall in the "well you asked for this to happen"-category.

  • Thanks once again this is helpful. Although I've not used the GRUB menu directly its useful to know about this. Again reasurring. Thanks – Cyteck Oct 25 '15 at 17:03
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As far as I understand from reading LPIC-2 book sample , the "stable" vs "unstable" are canonical models since before 2.6 kernel version; unstable means that it contains experimental code for bug fixes or whatever else developers may be testing. In other words "It works,but there's stuff that might not work". "stable" means polished kernel that works in 90% of the cases.

So this is not really "asking for trouble", but rather an invitation to try out newer, more experimental kernel that may have bugs fixed , and who doesn't like when their bug is fixed ?

  • Thank you for your answer which is most helpful. It helps make sense of the confusion over versions. I just didnt want to download an unstable version only to find it messed up my machine. Only to not know how to fix such a mess. Have thus far only installed the stable kernel versions and had only good results. Thanks Ivan – Cyteck Oct 25 '15 at 17:01

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