Updating the Slackware Kernel 3.10.17

Many distro maintainers require users join the kernel-of-the-week club with kernel updates. For users with a sole computer this is almost a non-event. A reboot is required but at the user’s convenience. For users with more than one computer, the kernel-of-the-week club creates admin overhead. An apt caching proxy helps, but the overhead remains.

Since I started using Ubuntu MATE immediately upon official release, there seems to have been an updated kernel about every 7 to 10 days. Time consuming and a tad stressful with multiple systems to update.

Slackware is not a member of the kernel-of-the-week club. Users are free to update the kernel if desired, but only rarely are kernel updates officially issued after a Slackware version is released.

I think this is a reasonable policy. Most of the kernel security patches target corner case use cases. Further, most Slackware users tend to be do-it-yourselfers and recompile an updated kernel as needed. Although I once routinely compiled my own kernel, I never felt motivated to update kernels only because of various security patches.

The recently discovered networking challenge ack flaw prompted one of those rare official Slackware kernel updates. Slackware 14.1 was released with 3.10.17. The new patch was not backported but instead the entire kernel was updated to 3.10.103.

I almost started to update when I remembered the quirky design of the server motherboard. Best to review my notes before updating.

The 3.10.103 kernel does not fix the alx driver problems I stumbled across when I installed the server. Thankfully I had notes and my own blog report to help me with backporting the appropriate patches.

That I was able to patch the kernel to provide full function is one of the wonders of free/libre software. Being able to do that with proprietary software usually is impossible.

That I had to patch the kernel to obtain full function is an unpleasant statement about the Linux ecosystem. Or in common language, needing to patch the kernel sucks. Not exactly Year of the Linux Desktop fodder.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: General

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