How to Update the Centos7 to a More Secure, Faster Kernel

How to Update the Centos7 to a More Secure, Faster Kernel

Product Line:  VERDE

The Linux kernel is the foundation on which all Linux distributions operate.  Updated versions of the kernel can improve security, add functionality, and improve the speed at which the operating system functions.

This Knowledge Base Article instructs you on how to update the Linux kernel on CentOS 7.

Steps to Update CentOS Kernel Version


To update the kernel on CentOS, you’ll need to install a third-party repository called ElRepo. ElRepo offers the latest kernel version available from kernel.org.

The official releases are tested to ensure they work properly and do not destabilize applications and OS functions. There are two types of Linux kernel versions:

  • Stable long-term supported kernel release – updated less frequently, but supported longer.
  • Mainline kernel release – a shorter support term but more frequent updates.

Step 1: Check Your Current Kernel Version

To check current kernel version on CentOS, open a command-line interface and enter following command:

uname -msr

The system should return with an entry that appears like this:
Linux 3.10.0-862.el7.x86-64 x86-64

The output indicates which version of the kernel you are currently running, and on which architecture it’s based on.

Step 2: Update CentOS Repositories

Prior to upgrading the kernel, all packages must be updated to the latest version.

To update CentOS software repositories, use the command (this is included in the regular Centos7/VERDE install process):

yum -y update

Step 3: Enable the ELRepo Repository

To install the new kernel version, a new repository (ELRepo repository) needs to be enabled.

In a terminal window, type:


The previous command installs the GPG key for the ELRepo repository. This is important – CentOS will not allow the installation of an unsigned software package. The GPG key provides a digital signature to verify that the software is authentic.

Next, install the ELRepo repository by executing the following command:


Step 4: List Available Kernels

To list available kernels, enter:

yum list available --disablerepo='*' --enablerepo=elrepo-kernel

The system should return a list of available modules. In the list, note the line that says kernel-lt – signifying a stable long-term support release – or kernel-ml – which indicates a mainline release, with a shorter support term but with more frequent updates.

Next, look at the right-hand column, and notice a series of letters and numbers (which looks something like ‘4.4.113-1.e17.elrepo’). This is the kernel version.

Use these two pieces of information to decide which kernel version you want to install. As you can see, the Linux 5 kernel is the latest mainline release.

Step 5: Install New CentOS Kernel Version

To install the latest mainline kernel:

yum --enablerepo=elrepo-kernel install kernel-ml

yum --enablerepo=elrepo-kernel install kernel-lt

Allow the process to complete.

Step 6: Reboot and Select the New Kernel

Reboot your system by running the command:

reboot

You'll be presented with the boot menu:

Use the arrow keys to select the Linux kernel you have just installed, then press Enter. Your operating system should boot normally.

Step 7: Verify Functionality

Take a moment to check the functionalities of your CentOS system. Does all your software launch correctly and without errors? Do all your network functions work correctly?

Put your new kernel through its paces so all errors are identified and fixed in time. Or, if there aren’t any fixes, you can opt to switch back to the old kernel.

Step 8: Set Default Kernel Version

Once you confirm that the new kernel is compatible and working correctly, you’ll want to edit the GRUB boot utility so that, by default, it loads your new kernel.

Navigate to /etc/default/ and open the grub file with your text editor. Or, type the following in the terminal:

vi /etc/default/grub

Once the file opens, look for the line that says GRUB_DEFAULT=X, and change it to GRUB_DEFAULT=0 (zero). This line will instruct the boot loader to default to the first kernel on the list, which is the latest.

Save the file, and then type the following command in the terminal to recreate the kernel configuration:

grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

Reboot once more:
reboot

Verify that the boot loader is set to load the latest kernel by default.

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