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I am currently using 14.04.3 LTS and running 3.13.0-79-generic (released 19 February 2016) on a notebook.

Is this the latest kernel?, and as a rule of thumb should we be using the latest kernel?

I've also heard that we should use the kernel that best suits the system we are running. Slightly confused, if this means using an older kernel if there are issues using the latest kernel on a particular system.

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This question is definitely opinion-based. As a general rule, any time you say 'what (piece of software or hardware) SHOULD I use for (x task)?' you're going to have a WIDE variety of responses.

For example, some people are going to tell you it's better to partition drives with Gparted, while others may tell you to buy and upgrade some off the wall shareware you've never heard of before, while yet others may tell you it's best to just do it all manually from the command line.

I tend to always use the latest stable version (and occasionally, beta) of EVERYTHING, so if you ask me personally, I'm going to tell you that the latest is almost always best. But for certain niches of application, the latest may have bugs that haven't been worked out yet, or may have removed support for some functionality or software that you would consider essential to your own Linux use.

Therefore, the 'answer' here is that there IS no answer that applies to everyone. My best advice is trial and error. Read the release notes, know the differences, load them up, update your GRUB, and try them all out one by one. If 3.13 works better for you, then use it. If 4.2 works better, use it. This level of freedom is one of the major reasons Linux has been so successful.

It's up to you.

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Here's a handy kernel performance comparison done by the Phoronix team, testing various kernels in different tasks (SQL, compiling, encoding, video framerate, etc).

Linux 3.5 Through Linux 4.4 Kernel Benchmarks: A 19-Way Kernel Showdown Shows Some Regressions

It really depends on the tasks you're using your hardware for, and what kind of hardware you have.

For example, I have an old laptop with a 32-bit Pentium dual-core processor and maxed-out at 2Gb RAM. Kernel 4.4 runs great, but 3.13 runs better. Since my hardware is old, newer versions probably won't add any features nor improve performance that much (as seen on the regressions found during testing), so I'm sticking with the Trusty (3.13) kernel over the newer 4.4.

Just my 2 cents.

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Ubuntu LTS releases offer multiple kernels in official repositories.

At the moment kernels 3.13, and 4.4 are available for Ubuntu 14.04.

Both of them get security updates and bug fixes.

In general there is no need to upgrade a kernel to another major version if you do not add some new hardware that is not supported by older kernel versions, or need some new kernel features.

Kernel 3.13 is slightly "better", because it will be supported till 14.04 EOL in 2019.

You can always install the 4.4 kernel by

sudo apt-get install linux-generic-lts-xenial
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  • @AdamHayes: thanks for the useful comments. I am new on this forum, so may not have asked the question correctly. Sorry about that. The replies however did get to the bottom of what I was asking. I asked this question because my notebook sometimes logs out of the xsession randomly without warning, sometimes gives a Kernel panic. So while looking in to the issue I came across: (github.com/coreos/bugs/issues/435) The link above say's that particular issue can be resolved by using a particular kernel. I think they figure out that a 3.19 kernel does not exhibit the issue.... – meltingpot Mar 2 '16 at 7:58
  • @AhamHayes: ..So what I was asking was, is it usually the case we use the latest kernel, but if there is any issue could we simply switch to an older kernel. I have been trying out 3.13.0-38-generic, and the Kernel's 3.13.0-60-generic onwards to resolve the issue I am having. But was unsure if I could install the latest Kernel 4.2, then revert to the 3.13.x or a 3.19 kernel (can I go from 3.13.x to 4.2 directly?, or do I need to install 3.19 first) if necessary. Also, I did not know how to install the latest kernel. now I do. – meltingpot Mar 2 '16 at 8:04
  • I've never run 'sudo apt-get dist-upgrade' (take it this command updates the kernel together with upgrading the system, while the command provided by @Pilot6 only does Kernel update). Could ubuntu be auto-updating the Kernel, because the last time I ran sudo apt-get update was beginning of February, but I have a kernel which has a date of 19 February, version 3.13.0-79. This is apparent when i do: 'uname -a' or 'ls -lh /boot' – meltingpot Mar 2 '16 at 8:09

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