Fancy some new features? Try general-purpose Linux alternative Liquorix

Lock, stock and one smoking kernel: YMMV on performance boost, but either way, it's a bit of fun


Friday FOSS Fest Looking for a little more desktop responsiveness? Liquorix provides current, easy-to-install desktop-performance-optimised kernels for Ubuntu, Mint, Debian and derivatives… and Arch and Red Hat users can get it, too.

Since we've been talking about kernels recently at The Reg FOSS desk, today we're exploring options outside Ubuntu's own offerings.

Ubuntu maintains three channels for kernels, depending on what type of release you're running: LTS (or an LTS-based derivative such as Linux Mint), HWE and OEM.

For their supported lifetimes, LTS editions get updates for the same kernel they shipped with: at the moment, that means kernel 5.4 for Ubuntu 20.04 and Mint 20, for instance.

If you run an LTS and you opt for the HWE kernel, you get the kernel from the current short-term release. Ubuntu 20.10 had kernel 5.8, then 21.04 had kernel 5.11, and 21.10 had kernel 5.13.

Ubuntu also offers a bunch of variants for different purposes: one if you're looking for low latency, others for various public cloud platforms, and so on. The OEM release can offer something newer, but at the time of writing, the latest is linux-oem-20.04d, which is only version 5.14.

Debian, meanwhile, is currently shipping kernel 5.10.

Liquorix comes in if you want something newer than that – if you fancy a bit of that in-kernel NTFS goodness from 5.15, say. Liquorix tracks the current stable release: right now, that's 5.16, but you can always check on kernel.org.

We can't add any value by repeating the project's own instructions (go here for all the installation steps). All you need to do is add its repo (a PPA for Ubuntu and Mint, a normal repo for Debian) and install the package. Your old distro kernel will remain in the GRUB menu in case you have problems, and will get updated in parallel.

Liquorix itself builds upon the Zen kernel, which integrates various patches and improvements aimed at desktop users.

Liquorix isn't the only one of its kind; there are other such efforts out there, such as XanMod.

You can also use both Liquorix and XanMod kernels on other Ubuntu downstream distros such as Pop!_OS and Elementary OS, of course.

It's also possible to install both on Red Hat-family distros such as Fedora using the Rmnscnce COPR repo. All of these usually ship newer kernel versions than Ubuntu anyway. It's even in the AUR for Arch types.

To be honest, we suspect that you won't see any massive performance improvements from any of these.

For The Register FOSS desk, the main use has been to get at features from newer releases without wasting time compiling our own kernels like we had to do in the 20th century. But if you enjoy tweaking your system, as the Ubuntu OEM-kernel page says, "Why not?" ®

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