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Question:
What disadvantages are there, if a Server with a current Linux OS runs on an older Kernel?
Does it have major drawbacks, like soft/-hardware incompatibility.
(Security vulnerabilities are fixed with newer kernel-versions, so I would leave that out of the question)

Background:
To be more specific: I upgraded from Debian '8' (Kernel 3.16.0.-4) to Debian '9' (Kernel 4.9.0-3) and after rebooting it crashed... nearly every time (even in recoverymode) - *(some detail about the specific error at the bottom)

I tried the old Kenel when booting and all is working.
But while searching the net (on how to repair) I read that I can just put the new Kernel "to the side" and use the old Kernel - there would be "no need in wanting to use the new kernel" (<- this is a simplifed statement from one of the https://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?t=216464 posts).

(*) enter image description here

  • some info about the warning archive.linuxfromscratch.org/lfs-museum/3.3/LFS-BOOK-3.3-HTML/… – GAD3R Jul 14 '17 at 13:10
  • (So, I'm relaying this comment from @derobert.) Try the new kernel to see if it's fixed, if it isn't, report the bug upstream. If it is, report the bug to the distro—they need to pull the fix. (credit to @derobert, naturally). Also, as I mentioned, try the proprietary Nvidia drivers. The problem is likely related to the open source Nouveau drivers, which are mentioned repeatedly in the call trace. Also, using the VESA driver is an option, if you are not planning on actually using X. – Faheem Mitha Jul 14 '17 at 18:20
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There's nothing wrong with using an older kernel, as long as the line is supported/maintained. In some case they are, most of the time they are not. And you do not want to use an older/unmaintained kernel, because it will not receive bug fixes, including security fixes.

In the particular case of the Jessie kernel, Ben Hutchings posted on this topic. In particular, he said:

Q: Will Linux 3.16 get long term support from upstream?

A: The Linux 3.16-stable branch will not be maintained as a longterm branch at kernel.org. However, the Ubuntu kernel team will continue to maintain that branch, following the same rules for acceptance and review, until around April 2016. I can continue maintenance from then until the end of regular support for 'jessie'.

The Debian Wiki Release page says the following about Jessie:

~June 6th 2018 (full) / ~June 6th 2020 (LTS)

So presumably "regular support" would be till June 6th 2018, and Jessie will also get Long Term Support (LTS) till the end of April 2020.(Note that current policy for Debian releases is for them to be supported for a year after release. Note also that LTS is not an official Debian project.) So presumably the Jessie Linux kernel would be supported till then. However, if you are running Debian 9 (Stretch), you will have to arrange to receive updates to the Jessie kernel. Since you are not tracking Jessie any longer, those updates will not be automatic.

If a newer kernel is crashing, you should first report it as a bug report. You could also spend a little time trying to debug it. This helps the Linux Kernel project and the users of the Linux Kernel. Staying with an older kernel indefinitely is of course not an option. Eventually, you'll have to upgrade to a more recent kernel, for any of a variety of reasons - including because you require more recent hardware support than is available in the kernel, because you want a feature that is only present in a more recent kernel, etc.

  • thanks for your comprehensive answer and the suggestion. I would like to debug my self, but yet don't have the skills. But from your answer the question arise: where do I see which kernel is supported/maintained? – eli Jul 14 '17 at 8:55
  • I've tried to address the issue of Jessie kernel support in my question. You could report the crash you are getting. It's not necessary to debug. – Faheem Mitha Jul 14 '17 at 9:08
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The Security vulnerabilities will be fixed also on the old-stable release until the support of the debian security team stop , there is answer from the frequently asked question on the DebianOldStable web page.

How long will security updates be provided?

The security team tries to support a stable distribution for about one year after the next stable distribution has been released, except when another stable distribution is released within this year. It is not possible to support three distributions; supporting two simultaneously is already difficult enough. source: Debian Security FAQ

You can keep using the old-stable release , if your not interested by the new kernel functions of the 4.9 kernel version .

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