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How to get Linux kernel 5.8 and 5.9 in Debian 10

Debian 10 sits at Linux kernel 4.19. While this kernel version isn’t exactly the oldest release ever, it’s undoubtedly out of date. However, it is possible to install more modern versions of the kernel.

This guide will go over how you can upgrade your Debian 10 system to Linux kernel 5.8 and 5.9. However, before we begin, be sure to make a backup of your system. It’s always good to create a backup before a significant kernel upgrade. 

Want kernel version 5.3? Check out this guide.

Method 1 – Debian Backports

Debian Backports is the safest, quickest, and easiest way to get your hands on newer versions of the Linux kernel. You don’t have to upgrade any packages, and there is no compilation required. 

The latest release of Linux is available in Debian Backports for Debian 10 is kernel 5.8. To get it installed, you must first enable it. To enable the software repository, start by opening up a terminal window on the desktop. Then, use the add-apt-repository command below to add the repo to your software sources.

sudo add-apt-repository 'deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-backports main'

After adding the Debian Backports software repo to your software sources, you will need to run the update command. The update command will refresh your software sources and add the packages to the package manager.

sudo apt-get update

Once Debian’s software sources are up to date, the installation of Linux kernel version 5.8 can begin. Using the following apt-get install command below, get kernel 5.8 set up on your Debian Linux PC.

sudo apt-get install linux-image-5.8.0-0.bpo.2-amd64-unsigned -y

Following the installation of Linux kernel 5.8 on your Debian PC, your Grub configuration file will update to include the new kernel. When the update is complete, reboot your computer. 

When you’ve finished rebooting your Debian Linux PC, you will be running Linux kernel version 5.8. Enjoy!

Method 2 – Upgrade to Debian 11

Debian 11 has Linux kernel 5.9, and it is expected to update the kernel more as time goes on (compared to Debian 10, which ships with 4.19). If you’re not satisfied with kernel 5.8, you can try for kernel 5.9.


In the past, on AddictiveTips, we’ve covered how to try out Debian 11 with a fresh installation. However, we’ve never gone over how to do a quick upgrade on an existing system. Upgrading to Debian 11 is required to transition to Linux kernel version 5.9.

To begin the upgrading process on your existing Debian 10 system, start by launching a terminal window. Once the terminal window is open, use the su – command to log into the root user account.

su -

Can’t use the su – command on your Debian Linux system? Consider using the sudo -s command instead. It will give you access to the root user but doesn’t require you to know the root password.

sudo -s

Once you’ve gotten root access in the terminal on your Debian 10 PC, update your system using the following commands.

apt update

apt upgrade 

Open up the /etc/apt/sources.list file for editing in the Nano text editor. This file must be edited to change over Debian 10 software sources to Debian 11.

nano -w /etc/apt/sources.list

In the Nano text editor, locate the line below. This line tells your system that it should expect software for Debian 10.

Note: your line may not have the same URL. That is OK, as the URL is just a mirror. The vital thing to look for is buster main.

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ buster main

Once you’ve located the line of code in the file, change buster to testing. It should look like the example code below.

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ testing main

Next, locate the line below. Once again, do not worry if the URLs do not match. All that matters is that the line of code has buster main in it.

deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian/ buster main

Change the code to:

deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian/ testing main

After changing those two lines, delete any lines of code you see in the file. There should only be two testing lines of code. 

Can’t figure out what to remove? Just make sure your /etc/apt/sources.list file looks exactly like this:

#Testing repo

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ testing main

#Testing source repo

deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian/ testing main

After editing your sources.list file, save it using Ctrl + O on the keyboard and exit Nano with Ctrl + X. Then, do the upgrade with the commands below.

apt update

apt upgrade

apt dist-upgrade

Finally, reboot the system.

Installing Kernel 5.9

Once you log back into your computer, you will be using Debian 11. This also means you will be running Linux 5.9. To check, execute the command below.

uname -a

Unsure if the Debian 11 upgrade installed Linux kernel 5.9 on your system? Install the kernel package manually using the command below.

sudo apt install linux-image-5.9.0-2-amd64

After manually installing the Linux 5.9 kernel package to Debian 11, you will need to reboot your PC to use it. 

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