How to get the latest Linux kernel on your Ubuntu box

And a choice of ways to get the latest KDE too, if that's your thing

For significant subcomponents of Ubuntu – and its derivatives – you don't need to wait for the next release to appear. You can upgrade major parts on the fly.

Here at Vulture Towers, we are working on a review of a machine with a 12th-generation Intel chip, and that's caused issues in some Linux distros. Back in 2021, we reported on work on kernel 5.16 to add Alder Lake support. Ubuntu 22.04 LTS shipped with kernel 5.15, though. The latest release, 22.10, includes the ageing kernel 5.19, which you also get in the latest update to "Jammy", 22.04.2.

Kubuntu 22.10 comes with kernel 5.19, which is already past its end of life

Kubuntu 22.10 comes with kernel 5.19, which is already past its end of life

In both 22.04 and 22.10, we experienced issues on our Alder Lake box: under Wayland, flickering bands of noise across the screen, and under X11, slow, hesitant mouse pointer movement. More recent distros, such as openSUSE Tumbleweed, had no such problems with kernel 6.1 or 6.2. The good news is that it's quite easy to upgrade just your kernel without the hassle of updating to a new version of the whole OS… and kernel upgrades keep the previous version around (until you run sudo apt autoremove, anyway), so if something doesn't work right, you can reboot into the old kernel and remove the new one. It's fairly safe.

One option is to install a third-party kernel such as Liquorix. This is straightforward, and alternative kernel builds such as this or XanMod are performance-tuned for desktop use.

The Mainline tool makes it easy to pick the upstream kernel you want – and the different icon makes the stock kernels easily distinguishable

The Mainline tool makes it easy to pick the upstream kernel you want – and the different icon makes the stock kernels easily distinguishable

You can do it without leaving the relative safety of Ubuntu itself, though, via the Mainline PPA. This is Ubuntu's version of the current, upstream kernel, without the modifications that Canonical normally makes. It works fine, and pretty much all programs shouldn't notice any difference at all, but heed the warning on that page:

Support (BEWARE: there is none)

The mainline kernel builds are produced for debugging purposes and therefore come with no support. Use them at your own risk.

The steps are pretty easy, and several sites will walk you through it. All you do is add the repository:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cappelikan/ppa

Refresh the package list, as usual:

sudo apt update

Then install the new mainline tool, which puts a friendly graphical wrapper around choosing which kernel to install:

sudo apt install mainline

Once it's installed, run it from your app launcher – its full name is the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel Installer – and you can choose your desired kernel. It does the rest: downloads it, installs it, adds it to your GRUB boot menu, and then you just reboot to try it. In testing, we found that it made all the issues with 5.15 and 5.19 vanish on our Alder Lake box. X11 became perfectly smooth, and all the graphical glitches in Wayland vanished. (Just for reference, they did with the Liquorix kernel as well, and we couldn't see any difference in performance.)

Presto, a few minutes later, our Kubuntu (virtual) box is running the latest and greatest kernel 6.2

Presto, a few minutes later, our Kubuntu (virtual) box is running the latest and greatest kernel 6.2

If you don't see any benefit, the Mainline tool makes it easy to go back to any specific older version, or back to the stock kernel if you prefer, and there is guidance on installation in some of the tutorials, too.

KDE Plasma

For the screenshots in this story, we chose Kubuntu in order to demonstrate another easy upgrade. KDE Plasma 5.27 is out, and it's expected to be the final release in the KDE 5.x series – KDE Plasma 6 should arrive at some point, but it's not yet clear when. As such, Plasma 5.27 is a long-term support release, so it's worth upgrading to it. If you don't want to wait, you can install it now on Kubuntu 22.10. The procedure is much as it was when we described how to install Plasma 5.25 on Kubuntu Jammy. Just add the Kubuntu-backports PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports

Then do a full upgrade, however you normally prefer to do this.

It takes rather longer, but after entering one line and a couple of clicks, Kubuntu is running the last Plasma 5 desktop

It takes rather longer, but after entering one line and a couple of clicks, Kubuntu is running the last Plasma 5 desktop

There's also an experimental build for Kubuntu 22.04, although it's not recommended for production use just yet. We suspect that a more complete version may yet follow, though.

At least one Ubuntu remix, Tuxedo OS, already has it. We looked at Tuxedo OS 1.0 in October, and Tuxedo Computers has now released Tuxedo OS 2.0, with kernel 6.1 and KDE Plasma 5.27 – so it certainly can be made to work on the basis of Ubuntu Jammy. If you're ready to do a clean install, this is an option that's available right now. ®

More about

TIP US OFF

Send us news


Other stories you might like