Manually installing Ubuntu server (not from a hosting provider) -- should I add a HWE kernel?

From the moment I mount the ISO in my VirtualBox and starting the installation process, I am asked for 4 options:

  • For a regular Ubuntu server
  • For an Ubuntu server that includes HWE
  • For MAAS including server
  • For another MAAS including server

It is clear to me MAAS is not something I need but I do understand that inclusion of the HWE kernel inside Ubuntu might result in better hardware utilization (I don't know to say exactly way) and I was thinking that if tomorrow I change my PC to a new one there might be software discrepancies which HWE avoid.

Am I right? Should I choose HWE to ensure better software compatibility?

  • WHE? Or HWE? If the latter: do you expect lots of changes to hardware? HWE is about providing quicker support in the kernel for newer hardware. – Rinzwind Apr 18 '17 at 14:34
  • HWE, yes. I don't know to say exactly but I do think to totally replenish my PC's hardware (my current hardware is basically from 2009-2010). – JohnDoea Apr 19 '17 at 3:20
  • Please edit your post to indicate whether you will be enabling hardware virtualization in virtualbox. This might have bearing on your question. Thank you for helping us help you! :-) – Elder Geek May 8 '17 at 18:02
  • Hardware virtualization? Wow, that's an interesting concept. You mean like not having an high-end graphics card but virtualizing one? If so, I don't have such a plan. – JohnDoea May 8 '17 at 22:28
  • No that's not at all what I mean. You might find this informative. HWE is not about software compatibility, it's about hardware compatibility as Rinzwind pointed out in his comment. I don't see an HWE kernel as being a benefit running in a virtualized environment such as virtualbox, It might be a critical requirement running on newer bare metal though. – Elder Geek May 10 '17 at 22:43

Hardware Enablement (HWE)

Should you use the HWE Kernel in a VM? I wouldn't bother. Unless, for example, you want some feature in the kernel that has received an update and won't be backported to the regular kernel. An example might be some new BTRFS code. The other thing remember is that up-to-date virtio modules already come with the regular kernel, so again it's not important to a vm.

Should I use the HWE Kernel on bare metal? Well, if it's new hardware (hardware released after the release of a kernel), you might not have a choice and you'll need to use it. For 10yr old hardware, just the regular will do fine.

Should I use the HWE Kerrnel on my VM when I passthrough hardware? Wow, now ya taking. An example might be that you just bought a new NVMe card and a new Radeon RX500 and you've passed through the hardware directly to the VM. In this case you will want to run the newer kernel.

I'd like to point out that there won't be any noticeable performance increases for a newer kernel. Not unless it's a bug-fix to a really serious performance issue, and I've only see things like that for Radeon cards and gaming.

Speaking of performance. Don't estimate, but instead use the phoronix-test-suite, it's freakin awesome. Cheers.

Here's another question that addresses 'What is hardware enablement?' What is hardware enablement (HWE)?

  • I'd like to mention that Intel are fairly on the ball with getting source code into the linux kernel around the release of their products. So as a rough guide look at kernel.org/category/releases.html and the dates that the LTS releases came out. For example Intel Skyelake was released in Aug 2015, and kernel 4.4 has support (actually support was added in 4.3 stable) – Bazz May 13 '17 at 14:54
  • For Intel Kaby Lake I would look at kernel 4.9 and later. – Bazz May 13 '17 at 14:57
  • In answer to "Do you think that installing HWE anyway has any serious disadvantage whatsoever?" A good example is virtual box. When installing virtual-box it compiles its modules against the running kernel, and it might not compile properly on a kernel other than standard. Just a thought. – Bazz May 13 '17 at 15:06
  • BAzz, I gave you the bounty, but can you please add some parenthesis-level explanations for terms like BTRFS or NVMe to explain what are they and why is mentioning them relevant to the question? Of course one can go to Google and exploring them and probably figure out why they are relevant to the question but I'm sure adding such PL explanations could do good to the answer. – JohnDoea May 13 '17 at 22:50

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