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We have a working fully automated install of 16.04 using preseed. I need to add the HWE kernel. Is there a d-i ??? option to select the HWE kernel? If not, what is the usual approach to use an HWE kernel on install? My current best guess is to use a late_command tweak but that seems... dangerous at best.

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There are two options,

If the machine will boot with the earlier kernel this will work.

d-i pkgsel/include will work, and should exist in your config, appending linux-generic-hwe-16.04 will boot to the hwe kernel once the install is complete.

Or you can this line:

d-i base-installer/kernel/override-image string linux-generic-hwe-16.04

After this line:

d-i keyboard-configuration/xkb-keymap

The second option is preferable in my experience.

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