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Portal:Leap/Leap kernel version

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Why is the kernel used by Leap so old?

This is an often asked question. The quick answer is that Leap uses the same kernel version as the corresponding SUSE commercial release, as it uses the same source code.

Then, why does Leap use the same kernel as SLE/SLED? Why couldn't it use a newer kernel, as tumbleweed does?

Well, because the key characteristic of Leap is that the core comes from SLE/SLED, it is an intentional design decision that brings stability at the cost of somewhat older versions; it saves a lot of work for the contributors and provides extra stability. The goal of Leap is an stable version that can be easily upgraded from point release to point release, and by reusing the work already done by SUSE we get that.

About one third of the packages in Leap come from SLE/SLED. The rest come from Tumbleweed and thus are more recent (for instance, the KDE desktop and libraries). If you want a more up to date release, you should instead use Tumbleweed, or get the package you are interested in from some contributor of the OBS, the build service.

Then, why does SLE have such an old kernel?

Basically because it is thoroughly tested, and this takes months and a lot of money. SUSE goes for hardware and ISV certification; this is expensive in time and money, for SUSE and for the hardware people. It can take days to certify a single machine. Some vendors machines takes weeks of engineering. Similarly for software stacks.

In words of an ex-SUSE sales engineer: “from the enterprise side of deciding a kernel version is an enormous engineering lift requiring all kinds of coordination internally, as well as with customers and partners. These kinds of decisions are not made lightly.”

Which means that once this job is done, switching to another kernel means heavy loss of money and time. There needs to be a business case to undertake the change.

And openSUSE gets the same kernel for free.

But then, the kernel being old I will not get support for new hardware. And it will be insecure: it will not have the correction for the security faults that were found.

Not so: the kernel gets a lots of patches and backports, so that support for new hardware is added as needed, and many bugs, security and otherwise, get corrected.

But I have X hardware that is not supported, what do I do?

Well, tell the team! Write a bugzilla and tell the team about the hardware that is not supported. You can also obtain a newer kernel from one of the extra repositories and find out if your hardware is supported there.

But you must tell the team in a bugzilla. Don't shy away!

How can I get a newer kernel version?