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I am using ubuntu 14.04 with linux kernel 3.13.0-37-generic . I know that the latest stable release of the kernel is 3.17.01 and want to test it.

Can I test it on my system without blowing away my current ubuntu ?
Specifically, I thought of replacing the kernel file in /boot folder with my compiled kernel file of 3.17.01 kernel and change the corrosponding grub entries, is this the correct way to do so ?

Is there any chance, that some applications might not work correctly with the new kernel ?

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    Sure, you can have multiple kernels (provided they are packaged as binary packages) installed side by side. That should be no problem. Bear in mind that you can build your own binary kernel package for any release. Applications are usually not sensitive to the kernel version unless they interface directly with the kernel, and even then, not much. – Faheem Mitha Oct 17 '14 at 8:57
  • You may want to generate also a init ramdisk for your kernel. – lgeorget Oct 17 '14 at 8:58
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If you use the same compilation options as Ubuntu, and you also install the corresponding modules, and you regenerate the initramfs, this will work. Get Ubuntu's configuration file, put it in the kernel compilation directory, and run make oldconfig.

It would be less error-prone to Ubuntu's own compilation process. Get the kernel source package, substitute the kernel source, and compile.

If you build your own kernel with your own compilation options, there's a good chance that you'll forget some critical option or module. The kernel is broken down into lots of tiny bits so that each system can load only the bits that it needs. Run make localmodconfig to configure a kernel that includes all the currently-loaded drivers, and thus will be suitable for the machine it's compiled on (at least as long as you don't plug in a new removable peripheral, or use a new network feature, etc.).

See Configuring, compiling and installing a custom Linux kernel for a more extensive guide to configuring and compiling a kernel.

There's rarely much benefit in getting the latest and greatest kernel. It won't let you run more programs: very few programs care about recent kernel features. You should only do it if the new kernel has something you need, such as a driver for your hardware. If you just want to play, do it in a virtual machine, perhaps with a bleeding-edge distribution rather than Ubuntu.

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