I'm given a number of kernel options (I'm hosted on linode - all kernels are customized by linode): Latest 2.6; Latest 3.0; and the latest legacy 2.6.18 or so and more.

Will there be much difference if I choose one over the other? Performance? Stability? Compatibility? What would be the best choice?

  • Belongs on serverfault. SO is for programming questions. Don't copy it, let it get migrated.
    – Tom Zych
    Sep 16, 2011 at 17:06
  • 8
    3.0 is just the continuity of 2.6.39, there is no major change, no new magic feature. Linus Thorvald just felt like changing the major version for the 20 years of Linux. So it should be as stable as any other kernel. Sep 16, 2011 at 17:35

3 Answers 3


In my opinion, I would continue running the latest 2.6.x kernel. It's been out for a long time, has been and is widely deployed and tested, and your vendor will likely be providing patches for some time.

In my opinion, 3.0 is just too new to put out on real production systems. (I'm talking money generating systems here, not a server that runs a personal blog or photo gallery or the like.) When company money and your job are at stake, I feel it's best to stick with what is known and what works.

  • This is totally helpful. Thanks! Opted with the latest 2.6.x. Now working on server hardening. Sep 16, 2011 at 17:21
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    -1 because your answer isn't very useful. 3.0 may be too new this month. But when people read this three months from now that will no longer be true.
    – Zan Lynx
    Sep 16, 2011 at 20:20
  • Come on give him a break. This is also true for many other topics. The basic answer is correct. "Too new" is subjective so may vary from a few days to a few years. Sep 16, 2011 at 20:38
  • Isn't that part of what having date and time stamps on posts are for...? It's pretty easy to tell how old a post is, and if you can't make the decision of "well this person made this recommendation 2 years ago, so I'm not going to kernel 3.0!" on your own, then maybe Systems Administration isn't for you.
    – Kendall
    Sep 16, 2011 at 20:39

If you need a stable version of the Linux kernel then you should be using one of the stable releases. In the 2.6 series these had a fourth version number. In the 3.0 series it is the third version number.

Better yet is to let a major distribution do this for you. Redhat Enterprise (and clones like CentOS and Scientific Linux), Ubuntu Server, SUSE or Debian all have stable versions which will have kernels that contain important bugfixes while not including unstable new features.

I personally would have no problem using 3.x on production servers, as long as I had a cluster or failover that could quickly replace any system with a problem. 3.0 is just a new name for 2.6.40. It's no more unstable than any new 2.6 kernel release.

  • I see. I thought it's of the same case as python 2.x and 3.x. Thanks for enlightening me. Until when will linux 2.x be continually supported? Are these two kernels developed in parallel? Will there be new features on 2.x or will it be just fixes until EOS? Sep 17, 2011 at 11:30

3.0 is identical to 2.6. Linus simply thought that the numbers were getting too big at 2.6.40 so anything after that point is called 3.0.

How long you wait for a kernel to be stable, and what you would classify as stable are different questions. A newer kernel (especially if its provided by your distro) is perfectly stable for 99% of cases.

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