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I need to update the kernel of an old headless server (small machine logging some instruments). Alas I cannot upgrade beyond Debian 8 Jessie.

Some Virtualbox modules I need are only available for 3.16.0-11-amd64 and not for 3.16.0-4-amd64:

$ cat /lib/modules/3.16.0-4-amd64/modules.dep | grep vbox
<NOTHING>

$ cat /lib/modules/3.16.0-11-amd64/modules.dep | grep vbox
updates/dkms/vboxnetflt.ko: updates/dkms/vboxdrv.ko
updates/dkms/vboxnetadp.ko: updates/dkms/vboxdrv.ko
updates/dkms/vboxpci.ko: updates/dkms/vboxdrv.ko
updates/dkms/vboxdrv.ko:

The system has been upgraded and rebooted.

There are now 3 available kernel images:

$ dpkg -l | grep linux-image

ii  linux-image-3.16.0-10-amd64    3.16.81-1                        amd64        Linux 3.16 for 64-bit PCs
ii  linux-image-3.16.0-11-amd64    3.16.84-1                        amd64        Linux 3.16 for 64-bit PCs
ii  linux-image-3.16.0-4-amd64     3.16.43-2+deb8u5                 amd64        Linux 3.16 for 64-bit PCs
ii  linux-image-amd64              3.16+63+deb8u7                   amd64        Linux for 64-bit PCs (meta-package)

According to my understanding, at boot the newest one should be picked, but something strange happens:

$ uname -a

Linux bluelikon-mini-abgebaut 3.16.0-4-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 3.16.43-2+deb8u5 (2017-09-19) x86_64 GNU/Linux

Is there a way to force using 3.16.0-11-amd64?

Is there perhaps a configuration file in Debian that is forcing 3.16.0-4-amd64 instead?

Online I found that it is quite easy to change grub settings to add the new kernel (all examples refer to grub, i.e. here), but in my system grub is not used.

Any idea?

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    Perhaps by looking at the contents of /boot you can see which bootloader is used and then set it up to boot that certain kernel you need.
    – schaiba
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 12:19

2 Answers 2

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By looking at the contents of /boot you can see which bootloader is used and then set it up to boot that certain kernel you need.

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  • You got it. It is using syslinux as a bootloader. Changing the image name in /boot/syslinux.cfg did the trick. Thank you!
    – Alex Poca
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 9:25
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The kernel you're running solely depends on your bootloader. Found out what it is and set it up to boot the required kernel version.

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