On a question that is off topic (wifi doesnt work after upgrading to 16.04 (Module wl not found)) the OP commented that following an accepted answer (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS cannot suspend / fails on suspending) on another question got him into this situation.

Now I am wondering: Should we (if we see such an answer that might to lead to an unsupported system) add a comment/edit to the answer that warns about the problem?

  • 4
    Installing a new kernel could of course break a system but so could a upgrade, dist-upgrade or do-release-upgrade along with many other commands. While I am certainly not against people adding caveats, if they want or even editing them in to other posts, I think, it is really the responsibility of the user to try to understand what they are doing, rather than us mollycoddling everyone. If people just copy random commands they don't understand at all, that is kind of there fault. It may seem a bit harsh but we should not have to write this in to every post we make.
    – Mark Kirby
    Nov 14, 2016 at 18:37
  • I was not asking bout the possibiltiy to break a system but about the fact that questions about the altered system will be off topic on AU.
    – guntbert
    Nov 14, 2016 at 20:10
  • Well, in that case, I don't see why the question is even off topic, how does installing another kernel make it off topic? It was even answered, it has everything to do with Ubuntu. I have voted to reopen that.
    – Mark Kirby
    Nov 14, 2016 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


For the sake of formality, let me first quote AskUbuntu Help Center:

Questions that you may ask:

  • Using and administering official Ubuntu flavors including: Edubuntu (14.04), Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Kylin, Lubuntu, Mythbuntu (16.04), Ubuntu Studio, Xubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Touch, Ubuntu Budgie (17.04+) and Ubuntu "Snappy" Core.

  • Running third-party applications on Ubuntu.

  • Development on Ubuntu.

  • Services provided by Ubuntu and Canonical.

Back to our discussion here. In accordance with the quote above, installing/using a different kernel is not off-topic for the following reasons:

  • so long as OP uses any of the official (!) Ubuntu flavors, they are supported, even if they're using a non-standard software. We have tons of questions that are not off-topic where users have installed 3rd party apps, 3rd party themes, 3rd party desktops. This leads me to another point below

  • Linux kernel is integral part of the Ubuntu system, and it can be considered under using and administering the system, but also potentially under running third-party applications. Even if you argue that a kernel wasn't provided by official Ubuntu repositories, it's still considered on-topic as running third-party application on Ubuntu ( even though kernel isn't an application ). So unless pigs fly, and Ubuntu somehow can run on top of BSD or Windows kernel, we still consider an Ubuntu with any Linux kernel on-topic here ( doesn't guarantee that there will be people able to answer that question, though ).

  • 1
    But Ubuntu can run on the Windows kernel, and Debian can run on the FreeBSD kernel... Nov 18, 2016 at 4:54
  • Ubuntu, too, can run on the FreeBSD kernel. And AskUbuntu already has a whole tagged area for questions and answers dealing with Ubuntu on Windows NT. Serg's answer is well behind the times.
    – JdeBP
    Nov 22, 2016 at 22:05
  • Granted, Ubuntu runs on Windows 10 within their subsystem for Linux. I wasn't aware of the UbuntuBSD. The point here however isn't which kernel Ubuntu can run on. The point is that custom kernel isn't off-topic, which a lot of hot-headed users might want to close. However, if we're going outside the scope of dealing with Ubuntu itself, then it's off-topic. Whether or not my answer is behind times is irrelevant, since the ideas here are still valid Nov 25, 2016 at 3:15
  • On a side note, UbuntuBSD is not officially-supported distribution. Regardless of the kernel, it's not considered on-topic here. Debian is also none of our business, just like Mint Nov 25, 2016 at 3:18
  • I guess I have to count myself among those "hot-headed users" as I recall agreeing with a close vote based on an "unsupported" kernel. I guess I consider the kernel more of a foundation than an application and such questions similar to "I've built a house on sand and it keeps falling down. What do I do?" Umm.. Don't build there?
    – Elder Geek
    Nov 25, 2016 at 20:33
  • @ElderGeek And by unsupported kernel, what do you mean ? Nov 25, 2016 at 20:36
  • It's what another user labeled it in his close vote.(Hence the quotes). As I recall it was not an official Ubuntu kernel release and likely would fall under "custom kernel" in your terminology. You have my apologies for being a "hot-headed user" ;-)
    – Elder Geek
    Nov 25, 2016 at 20:40
  • The phrase "custom kernel" seems wrong. To me a custom kernel is built on custom source code that changes system behavior and can't be reproduced. What we're talking about here is "new kernels" built by the same kernel team as the "current kernels" and "old kernels". It is the Ubuntu team that takes the mainstream Linux Kernel and compiles it Ubuntu libraries, symbol tables, etc. Then they publish it on a Ubuntu website. I've noticed Ubuntu updates "current kernels" (ie 4.4.0-57) about the same time they publish a "new kernel" (ie 4.8.12) and I suspect there is code porting going on. Jan 7, 2017 at 5:04
  • @WinEunuuchs2Unix no, it's slightly the other way around. Linus Torvalds and kernel.org produce newer kernel. Ubuntu kernel team modifies it to suit broad range of hardware and users, etc. What we're talking about here is when someone takes a kernel from kernel.org and installs it by themselves. Jan 7, 2017 at 5:15
  • @Serg I think we are getting closer to consensus then because when people get 4.9.1 from Ubuntu web site and install it others here will call it "custom kernel" which feels wrong to me. Jan 7, 2017 at 16:34

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