I just got a laptop with a wireless adapter (MEDIATEK 7961) supported only by kernel 5.14+

I installed the latest kernel (5.15.0-2) from the unstable Debian repository but I can't get it working. I would like to try an older version, like 5.14.

I got 5.15.0-2 simply pointing to unstable Debian repo and upgraded the system

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib non-free
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib non-free

Is there a way to specify which kernel version I want to install, or any other way to install it?

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately pointing apt to unstable and upgrading the system, unless you did an apt full-upgrade, has probably left you with a mix of unstable and whatever you had before running the upgrade. There are no guarantees at all that such a FrankenDebian mix will actually work.

If you only recently got the laptop, reinstalling might be the easiest and quickest way back to a stable configuration.

The easiest way to get a newer kernel to a stable version of Debian is to use the backports repository designated for that release.

For example, the backports repository for Debian 11 (bullseye) currently has kernel version 5.14.9-2~bpo11+1 available. (The ~bpo11 part of the version number indicates it's from the backports repository for Debian 11.)

To get a 5.14 kernel for Debian 11 from the backports repository, you should:

  1. add deb http://deb.debian.org/debian bullseye-backports main to your /etc/apt/sources.list (or create a file /etc/apt/sources.list.d/backports.list for it, and add it there)
  2. run apt update to download the package index from the newly-added backports repository
  3. run apt install linux-image-amd64/bullseye-backports to install the kernel package from the backports repository (currently version 5.14.9+2~bpo11+1)

The distribution's normal packages will be used by default by apt. Whenever you want to install a newer version from the backports repository, you will have to explicitly specify that you want the version from the bullseye-backports. If the backports package you already have installed gets updated in the backports repository, apt should handle updates for it just as usual. But it won't automatically add more packages from the backports repository without your explicit request.

  • thanks for that. I did exactly what you suggested and I got a 5.14 kernel version, not the one you mentioned tough. It installed 5.14.0-0.bpo.2-amd64. Unfortunatelly I'm still facing issues to boot the system. I will raise another question to this problem later. Dec 19, 2021 at 12:00
  • just in case .. this is the issue I started to see after upgrading: unix.stackexchange.com/questions/683072/… Dec 19, 2021 at 13:18

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