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Looking at kernel.org the latest mainline release is 3.8. Zhe site also states the latest stable release is 3.7.9.

Now looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_kernel inside the version history table they state the latest stable version is 3.8. But a few lines up they write:

...Linus Torvalds makes the releases of new versions, also called the "vanilla" or "mainline" kernels, meaning that they contain the main, generic branch of development...

...

In the current scheme, the main branch of development is not a traditional "stable" branch, instead it incorporates all kinds of changes, both the latest features as well as security and bug fixes.

So why do they call the latest mainline version 3.8 stable in the table, if it in fact isn't a stable one according to the quoted text of wikipedia? Or do they in fact mean linux-next is the main branch of development?

Which version should I install if I want the latest features but also great stability? (3.7.9?)

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closed as not constructive by Michael Hampton, Dave M, mgorven, voretaq7 Feb 26 '13 at 19:33

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Are you using a particular Linux distribution? –  ewwhite Feb 26 '13 at 11:10
    
Yes, ubuntu. But I don't want to use the stock ubuntu kernels. I'd like to use one from kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline but not sure if 3.8 or 3.7.9 is better. –  gucki Feb 26 '13 at 11:12
1  
The question really is are you going to trust Wikipedia over the official site? And do you really care about stable? –  dunxd Feb 26 '13 at 11:20
    
I'd rather trust the official site, but I wonder why they have several release candidates (3.8-rcXX) when the final release (3.8) is not stable (latest mainline)? So the sum up - I find it all quite confusing. –  gucki Feb 26 '13 at 11:33
    

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

"Latest feature" and "greatest stability" are not always tied together: with every major Linux release you'll get newest features but you'll probably get also regressions.

If you really don't want to use your distro's kernel, I would suggest to avoid the latest version and to opt for the previous one (e.g. 3.7.9) until some minor fixes are released (e.g. 3.8.1).

There's nothing stopping you from compiling/installing two different Linux versions (obviously you'll be able to run only one)

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Whether or not a mainline kernel or even a stable kernel is actually stable largely depends on what features you're going to be using and on what platform.

For example, a particular kernel may well be bug-free on x86-64 but have issues under ARM, it all depends on how rigorously things were tested during the RC cycle.

With that said, the current state-of-play is that Greg KH is the main man with regard to stable kernels (although not by any means the only stable kernel maintainer) and he picks one kernel per year to maintain long-term.

Currently 3.4 is his long-term and all stable kernels since then are EOL'd as soon as he releases a stable for a new EOL.

If you are considering mainline, you would do well to follow Greg's patch series here: http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/stable-queue.git;a=summary

A good barometer of a kernel's stability is examining the patches queued up for the latest stable - see firstly if any of those patches actually impact what you're using the kernel for and then see if those patches are also being applied to earlier versions anyway.

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