How to boot an earlier kernel on Fedora

Fedora regularly offers an updated stable kernel for its users. This is just one of many reasons Fedora is a way to get the newest technology now. On rare occasions, though, a new kernel can bring an issue with it. You might need to revert to an older one to keep things working until the bug is fixed. This article shows you how.

The GRUB menu

Your system has a boot loader called GRUB that manages the start of the boot process. Among other things, it points to the kernels available on your system. However, your configuration might not allow you to see it for long. Often computer manufacturers include their own boot screens during the BIOS (basic input/output system) load process. The GRUB screen is different. It appears after the BIOS has loaded and the computer is ready to start up an operating system.

To make sure you see the GRUB screen, hold down a key like Ctrl after your computer manufacturer screen loads. The GRUB screen appears and shows a menu that includes several kernels.

Typically the top entry is the latest kernel. You can tell by the higher version number displayed in the entry. To select a different entry, use your arrow keys to select the previous version. Then hit Enter to boot that version.

Locking the kernel version

Typically a Fedora system will keep up to three kernel versions installed on the system. When a newer kernel is updated, up to two previous versions are kept on the system. An older kernel beyond those two will be removed by default. That means the boot partition doesn’t fill up to the point it affects the system boot.

Perhaps you want to lock down a specific version and have it always available always. In that case, you can use the versionlock plugin for DNF to keep it installed on the system regardless of updates.

To get the plugin, install the plugin package using sudo:

sudo dnf install python3-dnf-plugins-extras-versionlock

Then add a version lock for the version desired. For example:

sudo dnf versionlock add kernel-4.9.13-200.fc25

If you want to remove the locked version, use the delete option:

sudo dnf versionlock delete kernel-4.9.13-200.fc25

Keep in mind that versionlock works for packages of all kinds.

A note on Atomic Host

These instructions apply to the standard editions, like Fedora Server and Workstation, and most labs and spins. By default, the Atomic Host edition keeps the previous rollback kernel.

Fedora Project community


  1. Simon

    I think you can also exclude any further kernel updates on a system too, with the command:

    dnf update -x kernel-*

    or by editing and adding the below to the file: /etc/dnf/dnf.conf


    The above approach maybe a bit extreme though, unless you always want to keep your computer on a specific kernel.

    With the approach given in the article to versionlock, is there a way to then make that version locked kernel the default one that always boots too? This would save having to select it over whatever new kernel has installed since you version locked (assuming you haven’t blocked kernel updates too ofc!)?

    • @Simon: Yes. You can do this:

      • Run grubby to see a list of bootable kernels:
        grubby --info=ALL | grep '^title=' | sed 's/title=//'
      • Imagine these are numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. Set a variable to capture the title using the

        command. This example uses

        sed -n 2p

        for the #2 kernel, but you could substitute 3 or whatever instead:

        NEWDEFAULT=$(!! | sed -n 2p)
      • Check to make sure the variable is a kernel title. If not, do the above two commands again correctly, one following the other immediately.
        echo ${NEWDEFAULT}
      • Replace the default in the GRUB defaults file:
        sudo sed -i "s/GRUB_DEFAULT=.*/GRUB_DEFAULT="${NEWDEFAULT}"/"
      • Rewrite the GRUB configuration:
        sudo grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

      Now you can reboot into the locked kernel. The above process works independently of versionlock. It uses a kernel title instead of a numbered slot, so that if kernel index order changes, the desired default should still boot.

      • antikythera

        the above rewrite command for GRUB only applies for legacy BIOS installations with MBR partition layout.

        EFI with GPT layout system users should do the following instead

        grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/efi/EFI/fedora/grub.cfg

      • Nice info thanks worked.

    • DonPedro

      Or just list them with: grubby –info=ALL
      and then: grubby –set-default /boot/kernel version,
      like: grubby –set-default /boot/vmlinuz-4.2.0-1.fc23.x86_64.

      Here are the docs:

      • @DonPedro: Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to work properly on Fedora 26, having tested that here. Have you tested on Fedora 25 to confirm it works?

        • staff

          Didn’t work on fed 25…..

          • Jim Griffin

            I’m afraid I was not clear enough. The only remaining kernels are 4.1.?, so what I need is a way to load an older kernel, from HD, cd, flash, etc., and put it in the file that grub recognizes, and then I can adjust the boot order and get rid of the ones failing. I am now using the rescue kernel, but I’m sure I will find a limitation soon. I really don’t want to start from scratch with a clean install, but I will if that is the only alternative.

            Thanks for responding.

  2. Jim Griffin

    I updated to kernel 4.10.10-200 and have the three previous, 4.10.9 & 4.10.8. All of these hang at some point after x-windows loads, usually worse on the newest one. How can I find and load and go back to 4.9.14-200 which worked fine? On my system, grubby does not work, but i’m ok with that.

Comments are Closed

The opinions expressed on this website are those of each author, not of the author's employer or of Red Hat. Fedora Magazine aspires to publish all content under a Creative Commons license but may not be able to do so in all cases. You are responsible for ensuring that you have the necessary permission to reuse any work on this site. The Fedora logo is a trademark of Red Hat, Inc. Terms and Conditions