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How to Install the Linux 5.0 Update on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS "Bionic Beaver" default wallpaper

Canonical just released Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS, which features Linux kernel 5.0. This kernel, also found in Ubuntu 19.04, includes improved hardware support and performance tweaks. But, if you installed the original Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, you won’t automatically be updated.

It’s All About Hardware Enablement (HWE)

Software Updater application on Ubuntu 18.04

Here’s how this works. Instead of offering the original Ubuntu 18.04 LTS image for years and forcing everyone to update a lot of software after installing it, Ubuntu regularly releases new Ubuntu 18.04 installers in ISO form. These include the latest software updates that would typically be installed after you install Ubuntu 18.04. There have now been several versions of Ubuntu 18.04 released: the original 18.04, 18.04.1, 18.04.2, and 18.04.3.

The Ubuntu 18.04.2 release included a new “hardware enablement” (HWE) stack. The stack consists of a newer Linux kernel, X.org graphical server, and graphics drivers. These weren’t automatically installed on existing systems to ensure they don’t break anything. After all, Long Term Service releases are all about stability. Businesses don’t necessarily want a big new kernel update arriving out of nowhere.

If you installed Ubuntu 18.04 using the Ubuntu 18.04.2 installer, you will automatically get the Ubuntu 18.04.3 update featuring the new Linux kernel. If you installed Ubuntu 18.04 using Ubuntu 18.04.1 or the original Ubuntu 18.04, you won’t automatically get the new Linux kernel.

Either way, all Ubuntu 18.04 systems are getting most of the same updates. Older ones just don’t have the hardware enablement stack.

Not sure which release of Ubuntu you installed? Ubuntu 18.04.2 was released on February 14, 2019. If you installed Ubuntu after that, you likely have the new stack, and you’ll get Linux 5.0 via the standard software updating tools.

How to Get the New Hardware Enablement Stack

You can opt into the hardware enablement update if you like. LTS releases are supposed to be rock solid and not change much so Ubuntu won’t automatically install it for you. That said, we expect things will perform fine on almost all systems out there.

To install Linux 5.0 along with the new X server and graphics drivers, launch a terminal and run the following command. You can just copy-paste it into the terminal and press Enter:

sudo apt install --install-recommends linux-generic-hwe-18.04 xserver-xorg-hwe-18.04

Enter your password when prompted and type “y” to confirm when required. Ubuntu will update to the latest system with the latest hardware enablement stack.

Installing Linux 5.0 on Ubuntu 18.04

You’ll have to reboot your system to install the new kernel. After you do, a quick uname -r or uname -a command will show the version of Linux you’re running: Linux 5.0.

uname command showing Linux kernel 5.0 running on Ubuntu "Bionic Beaver"

Thanks to OMG! Ubuntu for highlighting the release of Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS and its Linux 5.0 kernel.