March 21, 2018

Using Ukuu To Keep Up With The Latest Mainline Kernels

Today we are going to show you an easy way to be notified about, install, and manage Ubuntu Mainline kernels in your 'buntu-based OS. Be it any Ubuntu flavor, including Kubuntu, KDE Neon, Linux Mint KDE, and countless other variants, there may be legitimate reasons why one might want to do this. So let's explore that notion briefly, and then we'll show you how to install and use Ukuu.


Reasons for running a mainline kernel

As noted above, you may want to try a mainline kernel for any number of reasons:
  • To stay with the laterst and greatest kernels
    • For bug fixes
    • For getting the latest kernel security updates
  • New hardware support
    • Testing purposes
  • You're on an LTS release, but want a newer kernel
  • You want to use the latest open source graphic drivers for gaming or video production
    • Especially true of those of us running open source AMD drivers
  • You want a stable OS while staying current on kernels
  • Not relying on backports, which tend to not venture far from the original kernel series from the LTS's original release
  • Your install is older, and just want an easy way to remove kernels that are no longer needed


If it's not broke...

Now, we're not saying you should run a mainline kernel, or that your Linux life will magically be better by doing so. In general, the Ubuntu Kernel Team does a great job procuring and testing regular and HWE kernels that they issue and eventually end up as part of the regular Ubuntu update process. If your computer does everything you need it to do, then playing with mainline kernels may a needless endeavor. But for the rest of us who are curious and tend to want to try the latest and greatest, and are aware that, indeed, curiosity can sometimes kill the cat, read on...

Enter Ukuu

Ukuu aims to handle the heavy lifting of
installing new point release and
release candidate kernels
Ubuntu keeps it's all-time mainline kernel list at, and a quick sort can show you the latest point releases and major releases of every kernel coming forth from And while one can simple download the appropriate .deb files and do a quick

sudo dpkg -i Linux*

in order to install the required files, for the average user this is far less than ideal. For one, the chance for errors in downloading the appropriate files for your architecture is always there. Secondly, what if something goes wrong? Uninstalling kernels via command line is not fun, and likely an easy stumbling block for novice command line users. It's not that hard to completely break your system if you're not careful. That's why there's Ukuu.

Ukuu does the following functions to help you automate installing and uninstalling any kernel you wish:
  • Fetches list of kernels from
  • Displays notifications when a new kernel update is available.
  • Downloads and installs packages automatically
Further, you can be automatically notified of new kernels automatically, and easily uninstall kernels should something go awry. It's really that easy.

Ukuu's main screen shows a list of kernels to choose from

To preview a list of changes for that kernel release, pressing the "Changes" button opens Kate / KWrite to show the list of changes, as seen below.

Here you can read the Changes text file right
from within Ukuu, which is a thoughtful addition

Once comfortable with your selection, click "Install" and Ukuu handles the rest for you. Easy.

Here you can follow the kernel's download
and install progress

Safety first

One of the things I really like about Ukuu is the hand-holding it does along the way. After a new kernel is installed, you will see a safety message like the one below, which is a nice addition and gives one a feeling of "it'll be OK" along the way.

Ukuu aims to not leave a user stranded
should something go awry

And that's really all there is to it. An easy way to try out new (or older) kernels without worry of what to do if something goes wrong, and how to uninstall no-longer-needed or misbehaving kernels.

Getting Ukuu  

Since Ukuu is for Ubuntu-based systems only, it is installable by adding the following PPA and entering these commands:

sudo apt-add-repository -y ppa:teejee2008/ppa
sudo apt-get update 
sudo apt-get install ukuu

Ukuu is available for 16.04 (Xenial) and onwards. At the time of this writing, the current version is 18.1.


Ukuu aims to be the easiest way to manage mainline kernels in an Ubuntu-based system. To that end, I would have to say it succeeds on all counts, and really serves as an easy and low-risk way to keep your system on the latest and greatest should you choose to do so.

Let us know your thoughts if you do try it out, and feel free to flip a small donation to Tony George, the application's author. He's on of my favorite developers and really offers a lot of useful tools for users of Ubuntu-based distributions (we've blogged about another one of his helpful applications - uCareSystem-Core - in the past). Don't tell him, but I'd love to have his talents squarely in Team KDE. Luckily though, his hard work still benefits users of KDE Plasma as well.

On the web

- GitHub
- v 18.1 release announcement on Medium 

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