"description" of update to "new" kernel for xub.10.04 confusing

Asked by Dan Smith on 2011-07-29

I clicked the update notification icon. The third update was "linux -image-2.6.32.33-generic". I'm using xubuntu 10.04. The "description" said "You likely don't want to install this package directly. Instead, install the linux-generic meta-package, which will ensure that upgrades work correctly, and that supporting packages are also installed".
Synaptic shows that very package already installed, with a small yellow star in the green box, but I can't find a "linux-generic meta-package". What gives? What exactly am I supposed to do, and NOT do?

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Last query:
2011-07-29
Last reply:
2011-07-30
Benji York (benji) said : #1

This looks like a question about Ubuntu, this area is for questions
about Launchpad itself. You might want to try some of the resources
located at http://www.ubuntu.com/community.

@Dan Smith
As Benji York said, https://answers.launchpad.net/launchpad is not an appropriate place to post Ubuntu questions. I am moving this question to https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu, which is one of the appropriate places to request help using Ubuntu.

Some Ubuntu packages have dependencies, that is, other packages they depend on in order to work. When you install a package, its dependencies are also automatically installed. A metapackage is a package that does not provide any files itself, but has dependencies. For example, the latest version of xubuntu-desktop metapackage depends on all the latest available versions of core components of the Xubuntu system.

For most software in Ubuntu, you would not want to retain an old version after installing a new version, and doing so might cause problems. But for kernels (a core component of the system that interfaces directly with hardware, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kernel_(computing) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_kernel), you can have more than one version installed, and it is useful to do so, because if you have problems with a new kernel (for example, if some of your hardware does not work correctly), you can switch back to an old kernel.

This is facilitated by giving each new kernel version its own package, and having a metapackage that is updated to depend on the latest version. Then, you receive new kernels as updates because they are updated dependencies for the metapackage. In this case, the metapackage is called linux-image-generic and the specific kernel-providing package is called linux-image-2.6.32.33-generic.

In the very rare situation that [a] you didn't have a kernel installed, or (more likely) [b] if you had a kernel installed but not the generic kernel (for example, you might have the generic-pae kernel installed instead) and you wanted the generic kernel, the recommend way to accomplish this would be to install the linux-image-generic package (which would automatically cause the linux-image-2.6.32.33-generic package to be installed as a dependency, unless a newer kernel were available). That would be preferable to simply selecting linux-image-2.6.32.33-generic for installation, because without linux-image-generic, you would not receive updated kernels when they are released.

So, if you're updating your Ubuntu system, and a package like linux-image-2.6.32.33-generic is automatically selected for installation, that's fine--go ahead and install it. That's the normal way for it to be installed--automatically, while updating, due to linux-image-generic having it as a dependency.

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