Linux Mint: Managing Kernels

Quite differently from what I’ve experienced with Linux Mint distributions of the past, the Update Manager now tends to install the latest kernel by default. Previously, it would have these updates deselected and require you to manually check them to be updated and installed.

For a while now, this hasn’t really been a problem for me. And, since I know that old kernels are preserved and can be booted from in Grub if an issue presents itself, I didn’t really concern myself much. However, a recent kernel update on one of my computers started causing a problem. I reboot into it twice and each time Cinnamon would crash and I would have trouble even getting to a point where I could reboot. So, I reverted back to the last supported version.

What you might want to consider, however, is which version you want to use and to do so manually. Looking at the release schedules for the official Linux kernels here and comparing it to what Linux Mint shows in the kernel manager within the Update Manager, it appears that there are some discrepancies. Whether different distributions make their own adjustments to how they support different kernels, I don’t know. I just know that I would prefer to use what is best supported for my Linux Mint installation.

Doing so is not that hard, and I would recommend you do the same if you’re not interested in performing an update and finding yourself having trouble getting Linux Mint started. Just follow these directions on how to manage your kernels from within Linux Mint’s Update Manager:

First, open the Update Manager by clicking on the small shield in your task bar:

Then, in the top menu, click on View -> Linux Kernels:

Click Continue at the warning. Do read it first, though:

Cycle through and become familiar with the available kernels. All kernels installed on your machine will say Installed next to them, and the one that is currently active will be listed as Active:

Personally, I recommend ensuring that the one with the latest support date be installed. This will usually be the one that is considered to be the LTS option available to you. Either way, make note of the one you intend to boot with, as you cannot actually choose the kernel to boot with from here.

You actually must choose which kernel to boot with from the Grub boot menu when you first start the machine. To get to this, go down below your Linux Mint 19.x… boot option in Grub to the one that says Advanced options for Linux Mint 19.x… and you will see all of the available kernels to use (the ones installed). Unless you know you need to do so, I would avoid selecting any in (recovery mode).

All of the kernels installed on your machine will be chronologically ordered with the most recent version at the top and the oldest version at the bottom. Select the version you wish to use and the machine will boot.

The next time you boot your machine, unless you have Grub configured to save and default to the last chosen option, it will boot using the latest available kernel. So, if that kernel has caused problems, you will want to remove it from your system to ensure it doesn’t get loaded in the future. You can do this from the kernel management area of Linux Mint’s Update Manager, and I personally recommend doing that over manually removing kernels using the terminal. After you have removed this kernel, Linux Mint will restore it as an available update for your machine and also show that there are updates available because of it. In order to keep from re-installing the problematic kernel, just right-click it and click Ignore the current update for this package. You don’t want to select Ignore all future updates for this package, as that would cause the Update Manager to never show any future kernel updates.