Jun 19, 2023 4 min read

How to Set Up Automatic Kernel Updates on Linux

Setup Automatic Kernel Updates on Linux with our step-by-step tutorial. Automatic kernel updates OS kernel without manual intervention.

Set Up Automatic Kernel Updates on Linux
Table of Contents

Before we begin talking about how to set up automatic kernel updates on Linux, let's briefly understand – What is Automatic Kernel Updates?

Automatic kernel updates refer to the process of automatically updating the kernel of an operating system without manual intervention. The kernel serves as the core component of the operating system, managing system resources and facilitating communication between software and hardware.

With automatic kernel updates, users no longer need to manually search for and install updates, as the system handles this task automatically. This ensures that the operating system remains up to date with the latest security patches, bug fixes, and performance enhancements. Automatic kernel updates simplify the update process, enhancing system stability, security, and overall user experience.

In this tutorial, we will discuss how to configure automatic rebootless kernel updates using Canonical's and CloudLinux's live patching solutions. We will also address a few FAQs on how to set up automatic kernel updates on Linux.

Advantages of Automatic Kernel Updates

  1. Enhanced Security: Automatic kernel updates ensure that your operating system is continuously protected against the latest security vulnerabilities.
  2. Improved Stability: By keeping the kernel up to date, automatic updates help maintain system stability and prevent crashes or errors.
  3. Seamless Experience: Users no longer need to manually search for and install updates, making the process hassle-free and convenient.
  4. Bug Fixes and Performance Enhancements: Automatic kernel updates include bug fixes and performance improvements, ensuring optimal system performance.
  5. Time and Effort Saving: With automatic updates, you save time and effort that would otherwise be spent on manually updating the kernel, allowing you to focus on your tasks.

Canonical Livepatch

Canonical Livepatch is a service that allows you to patch the running kernel without rebooting your Ubuntu system. The Livepatch service is free for up to three Ubuntu systems to use. You must subscribe to the Ubuntu Advantage program to use this service on more than three computers.

You must first obtain a livepatch token from the Livepatch Service site before installing the service.

Install and enable the service once you have the token by running the following two commands:

sudo snap install canonical-livepatch
sudo canonical-livepatch enable <your-key>

To check the status of the service, run:

sudo canonical-livepatch status --verbose

Later, if you want to deregister a machine, use this command:

sudo canonical-livepatch disable <your-key>

The same instructions apply for Ubuntu 20.04 and Ubuntu 18.04.


KernelCare is an excellent choice for hosting companies and businesses.

KernelCare is compatible with Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, and other popular Linux distributions. Every 4 hours, it checks for new patch releases and installs them automatically. Patches can be removed. Non-profit organizations can use KernelCare for free.

To install KernelCare, follow these steps:

wget -qq -O - https://kernelcare.com/installer | bash

Nothing else needs to be done if you're using an IP-based license. If you have a key-based license, use the following command to register the service:

/usr/bin/kcarectl --register <your-key>

Where <your-key> is the registration keycode string given to you when you sign up for the trial or buy the product. It is available on this page.

Some useful KernelCare commands are listed below:

  • To see if the running kernel is supported by KernelCare, do the following:
curl -s -L https://kernelcare.com/checker | python
  • To deregister a server:
sudo kcarectl --unregister
  • To check the status of the service:
sudo kcarectl --info

Every 4 hours, the software will check for new patches. To manually update, execute:

/usr/bin/kcarectl --update

FAQs to Set up Automatic Kernel Updates on Linux

Can I choose which kernel updates to install automatically?

Generally, automatic kernel updates install all available updates. However, you can configure certain package managers or tools to exclude specific kernel packages if needed.

Are automatic kernel updates safe?

Yes, automatic kernel updates are generally safe. They ensure that your system is up-to-date with the latest security patches and bug fixes, which helps enhance security and stability.

Will automatic kernel updates disrupt my system?

Automatic kernel updates are designed to minimize disruptions. However, it's always a good practice to have backups and be prepared for potential system reboots after the updates are applied.

How do I check if automatic kernel updates are enabled on my Linux system?

You can check the configuration files of your package manager or use command-line tools like apt or dnf with appropriate options to verify the settings related to automatic kernel updates.

Can I revert to a previous kernel version after an automatic update?

Yes, most Linux distributions allow you to boot into a previous kernel version from the bootloader menu if you encounter issues with the latest update.

Can I customize the frequency of automatic kernel updates?

Yes, you can often configure the frequency of automatic kernel updates to align with your preferences, such as daily, weekly, or monthly updates.

Are automatic kernel updates supported on all Linux distributions?

While most mainstream Linux distributions support automatic kernel updates, the availability and methods might vary slightly. It's recommended to refer to the specific documentation or community resources for your Linux distribution to ensure compatibility.


The Live Patching technology enables you to apply patches to the Linux kernel without having to restart the computer.

If you have any queries, please leave a comment below, and we’ll be happy to respond to them.

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