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An audit has pointed out that a RHEL server I manage has not had the latest kernel patches applied. I'm confused about kernel patching and within RHEL in relation to RHEL dot releases i.e 5.2 , 5.3 ,5.4 ..... Can someone answer these questions ?

  1. If I want to stay at a dot release of RHEL, say 5.4, can apply just updates to the 5.4 kernel or will applying kernel updates bring the server to a later dot release by default? The reason for this question is that I have applications that are only supported on say RHEL5.4 and going to a more recent dot release of RHEL 5 would break the support.

  2. I have some HP psp hba drivers compiled against the currently installed kernel, will applying a kernel update break these drivers as they were complied against the orginal kernel ?

  3. Anything else I need to look out for with regards to kernel patching ?

share|improve this question
Which HP HBA are you concerned with? Is there a reason you have to stay at a particular point release? – ewwhite Mar 28 '12 at 19:36
I have some G6 blades with fiber HBA drivers installed from the HP psp. Say a product such a weblogic or oracle componet is not fornally supported above RHEL5.3 – AndyM Mar 28 '12 at 20:26
Just reinstall the HP ProLiant Support Pack after you update the kernel. The drivers will recompile. – ewwhite Mar 28 '12 at 20:55
up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. even within the same minor version, there are different kernel updates so definitely you can stay 5.4 and update your kernel.
  2. how did you compile the drivers? unless you have used dkms (search for that), you will have to recompile if you upgrade the kernel.
  3. there is something called ksplice which may do what you want. search for that again for details. it dynamically patches a running kernel to block vulnerabilities.
share|improve this answer
cheers for reply , is there an easy way to find out which is the latest kernel update for 5.4 ? – AndyM Mar 28 '12 at 20:01
sudo yum list available 'kernel*'. this assumes that you have an up-to-date repo. otherwise you need to go to the redhat website to find out. – johnshen64 Mar 28 '12 at 20:04
will that show me kernel updates within the 5.4 release or all updates right up to 5.7 ? – AndyM Mar 28 '12 at 20:39
only for your release, as it just queries the repo, which is release-dependent. so if you have 5.4 it will only show the most recent 5.4 kernel. this assumes you only have the official repos set up. – johnshen64 Mar 28 '12 at 20:41

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