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How to switch to the LTS kernel in Arch Linux

Arch Linux is a bleeding-edge operating system, so updates are sent to users as soon as possible. As a result of Arch being bleeding-edge, the Linux kernel receives patches in a timely fashion.

For the most part, Linux kernel patches in Arch Linux do not break anything. It’s pretty stable, and users don’t usually run into issues. However, problems do happen, and these breakages can seriously mess up a system. If you’re an Arch Linux user and you enjoy the bleeding-edge software, but don’t want the Linux kernel to break on you, there is a solution: the Arch Linux LTS kernel.

What is the LTS kernel? It is the Linux kernel maintained for an extended period for stability purposes. It still receives updates and new drivers, but the kernel is much safer to use than the main kernel that Arch Linux distributes.

Setting up the LTS kernel on Arch Linux isn’t a tedious process, thanks to Arch Linux’s straightforward documentation. However, those new to the OS may not know how to do it. For this reason, we’ve decided to create this guide. Follow along, and soon you’ll be running the LTS kernel on your Arch Linux system!

Note: Although this guide focuses on Arch Linux, it also works with Arch Linux derivatives such as Endeavour OS, Black Arch, and others. Feel free to follow along.

Before we begin

Switching kernels on Arch Linux can sometimes go wrong. To avoid problems, you must create a backup of your system. That way, if you experience a system error you’ll be able to restore a backup quickly.

There are a few ways to create backups on Arch Linux. However, the best backup system for the OS by far is Deja Dup. It lets you back up important files on your Linux system and save it to everything from an external USB, to a remote Samba share, and even Google Drive, and others.

To back up your data in Arch Linux with Deja Dup, please follow our guide on the subject. It goes over the app in detail and will help you make a backup.

Don’t like Deja Dup? Check out Timeshift instead! It allows users to create snapshots of a Linux system and restore it in the event that something terrible happens.

Installing the LTS kernel

The Arch Linux LTS kernel is in the “Core” software repository, so there is no need to dig in the Pacman.conf file to enable anything. The Arch Linux LTS kernel’s package name is “linux-lts.” To install it, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T. Then, enter the Pacman command below.

sudo pacman -S linux-lts

The installation of the Arch Linux LTS kernel will not take too long, as it is a small package with only a few dependencies. When the process is complete, close the terminal window and reboot your PC.

Once you’ve rebooted your Arch Linux PC, you will see the Grub menu. Look through the Grub menu for “linux-lts” and boot from it to load Arch Linux with the LTS kernel.

Upon logging back in, open up a terminal window. When the terminal window is open, use the Pacman package manager to install the Neofetch tool. It will help you quickly determine what kernel you are on.

sudo pacman -S neofetch

With Neofetch installed, run the neofetch command to print out your system’s specifications.

neofetch

After running Neofetch, take a look at the “Kernel” section. If it has “lts,” you are indeed running the Arch Linux LTS kernel!

Removing the mainline kernel

While it is not required, it is possible to remove the mainline Arch Linux kernel altogether, so your system is only using the LTS one. To do that, open up a terminal window. Then, use the Pacman command to uninstall the “linux” package.

sudo pacman -R linux

Once the “linux” package is removed from your Arch Linux system, Pacman will go through the process of automatically updating your Grub system. If for some reason, this doesn’t happen, you will need to update your Grub by hand. Here’s how to do it.

In a terminal, make use of the grub-mkconfig command. However, please note that for the grub-mkconfig command to execute correctly, you must know the destination of your Grub configuration file. On most Arch Linux installations, the location is /boot/grub/grub.cfg. If you’ve customized your system, you must change the command below to reflect it.

sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Let the grub-mkconfig command run and detect all of the kernels on your system. When the process is complete, the terminal will allow you to type in it again.

Once the terminal window is usable, type in sudo reboot to instantly restart your Arch Linux PC. Upon restart, you’ll notice that only “linux-lts” is present in the boot menu!

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