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CentOS/RH is very widely supported as a server distro, but it mounts a somewhat older kernels.

For example now it runs kernel 2.6, while 3.6 is already out.

I found several tutorials about upgrading the kernel, anyhow my question is:

what are the drawbacks of running a nonstandard kernel? Will it break updates?

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Why do you want a newer kernel? – mgorven Nov 2 '12 at 0:56
Higher version numbers :) – ewwhite Nov 2 '12 at 1:05
much better ZFS support, 5-10% CPU increases, better DDoS protection, ...… – Mascarpone Nov 2 '12 at 1:08
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's possible to overlay a newer kernel on top of a CentOS or RHEL installation. Reasons for doing so vary, but usually, there's a feature or kernel functionality that may be desirable. I wouldn't upgrade for the hell of it, though.

In my normal use case, I use a newer realtime kernels, either hand-compiled or as provided via RHEL's MRG distribution (or the free equivalents). That's a fairly specialized application, though.

For you, the drawbacks are compatibility, complexity and obviously, updates. It's slightly against the principle of using an Enterprise™ distribution.

The approach Red Hat takes for its enterprise operating systems is to create a consistent target throughout the support lifecycle of the OS. Larger corporations and enterprise applications need to guarantee binary compatibility throughout the 7 years that this OS platform is supported for. Red Hat will not change minor version numbers of a package (or kernel), but will instead back-port changes and security patches from newer versions into the older package. E.g., you'll never see Apache 2.2.23 in RHEL 5, but you'll see the relevant security patches (and some functionality) ported from newer versions of Apache into the 2.2.3. Same for kernel major/minor versions.

Upgrading the kernel outside of this ecosystem is a little risky, but can be done.

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I agree with you, maybe I should think about using Ubuntu Server... even though I just started to fully understand centos – Mascarpone Nov 2 '12 at 1:10
It does suck. I have been a Red Hat/CentOS fan for much of my career, but I find that newer people to Linux and developers prefer other distributions for the reasons you state. – ewwhite Nov 2 '12 at 1:26
As a linux desktop user, I have to say that the forced release introduced by Ubuntu were a great step up to make linux more mature as desktop OS. Anyhow as a server user, I understand how much stability matters. – Mascarpone Nov 2 '12 at 1:28

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