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I want to use RHEL 7.4, but I have binary driver built for Linux 3.10.0-514. RHEL 7.4 ships with Linux 3.10.0-693 and this driver doesn't work with this kernel. Is it possible to use RHEL 7.4 with older kernel? I understand that it's technically possible, so the question is, what features new kernel provides and how userspace depends on these new featuers? I can see, that both kernels are from 3.10 line, so I guess they are completely replaceable from userspace point of view and it should be reasonable safe to use older kernel?

Also is it possible to use installer with older kernel or I should install 7.3 and use yum upgrade to upgrade to 7.4?

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It depends:

  1. New Kernel versions may fix important security and/or stability issues. From this perspective, it is always important to run latest kernel.

  2. From one minor version to the other of RedHat Linux (7.3 -> 7.4), RedHat sometimes also changes more important stuff that have impact in the Kernel as well. Generally this is 100% compatible with the userspace, but not always. For example if they do changes to network capabilities (like putting a newer version of a Team driver or such), LVM (a new version with extra options), NFS, etc then the userspace tools might generate incompatible configuration to the Kernel part and cause issues.

As about the upgrade/downgrade, you can just download the RPMs and yum install them.

All in all: test it out carefully!

  • This is somewhat misleading, and maybe you didn't intend for it to be this way. Latest kernel can mean a lot of things, but when you just say "latest kernel" it makes me think either the latest mainline or latest stable. You can run a kernel with long term support. In fact there is still support for 3.2 kernel currently. Really to me running the latest longterm is probably the best practice, so if you do have breaking changes you aren't stuck between a rock and a hard place and you can continue on that kernel version and still get updates. – tsturzl Jun 15 '18 at 18:43

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