What is HWE?

Ubuntu Hardware Enablement Stacks (HWE) are a feature aimed at providing an Ubuntu LTS release with hardware enablement support that has been introduced and provided in newer Ubuntu releases. These hardware enablement stacks are incorporated into install media for select Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support) point releases. The hardware enablement stacks themselves are composed of updated kernels and graphics stacks. The following table maps the Ubuntu 14.04.x LTS point release media, the corresponding HWE Stack and HWE Stack EOL date:

Ubuntu 14.04.x LTS Point Release

HWE Stack

HWE Stack EOL Date





Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic HWE Stack (v3.16 kernel)

Aug 4, 2016


Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid HWE Stack (v3.19 kernel)

Aug 4, 2016


Ubuntu 15.10 Wily HWE Stack (v4.2 kernel)

Aug 4, 2016


Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial HWE Stack (v4.4. Kernel)

April, 2019

The HWE path can be obtained in 2 ways:

  1. Installing Ubuntu from the point release media
  2. Manually installing the Ubuntu HWE packages (e.g. .*-lts-wily)

Further reading:

And why should I care?

Starting Aug 4, 2016, systems using an interim HWE Stack older than the Xenial HWE Stack will no longer receive software and security updates for the kernel and, if you're running it, the graphics stack. We encourage all HWE Stack users on Ubuntu 14.04 to update to the final Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial HWE Stack or fully upgrade to the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS release.

fglrx support

In Ubuntu 16.04 the fglrx driver was deprecated, more information regarding this is available at a developer's blog. If you upgrade to the 16.04 Xenial HWE Stack, then the fglrx packages will be removed from your system. If you depend on features provided by fglrx then you should stop using the HWE kernel and graphics stacks.

How do I know if I'm affected?

You can:

  1. Use the ‘’’hwe-support-status’’’ command line utility
  2. Examine your installed package set
  3. Check the media from which you installed


The command line utility is called hwe-support-status and is provided in the update-manager-core package in Ubuntu 14.04. It contains the central logic used by other update-manager and update-notifier to alert the user of HWE EOL notifications. On affected systems, it provides command line instructions for updating those systems to a supported HWE Stack.

It can be run with the following command:

hwe-support-status --verbose

To determine which packages to upgrade use:

hwe-support-status --show-replacements

To find out what packages are unsupported run:

hwe-support-status --show-all-unsupported


Check your running kernel version:

uname -r
  • You are affected if it shows a kernel with the following version: 3.16 or 3.19 or 4.2
  • You are not affected if it shows a kernel with the following version: 3.13 or 4.4

This method does not check for a HWE graphics stack. However, you cannot get a HWE graphics stack without a corresponding HWE kernel unless you've done things manually. Note that such a combination (HWE graphics with non-HWE kernel) is not supported.

Check installation media

Use the following command:

cat /var/log/installer/media-info

It will contain a line like Ubuntu 16.04 LTS "Xenial Xerus" - Alpha amd64 (20160117)

What to do if I'm affected?

You have the following options:

  1. Update to the Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial HWE Stack (version 4.4 kernel)
  2. Upgrade to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
  3. Fresh install of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

1. Install Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial HWE Stack

Run the ‘’’hwe-support-status’’’ tool and follow the instructions.

2. Upgrade to 16.04 LTS

For servers: run the ‘’’do-release-upgrade’’’ command line utility and follow the instructions. For desktops, invoke update-manager:

update-manager -c

For both servers and desktops it's strongly recommended to ensure a system is in a good state before upgrading to a new release. Here are some tips:

  • Perform a backup of important data
  • Check the availability of enough free space (2x the size of all installed packages)
  • Update all packages
  • Run sudo apt-get autoremove to clean up old packages

3. Fresh install of 16.04 LTS

Redeploy with a fresh copy of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.


I am running 14.04.2 HWE. From August 4, 2016 onwards my system will no longer receive package updates?

Not true. Such a system will only stop receiving updates for the kernel and the graphics stack. The rest of the software will continue to get updates.

So if I am running 14.04.3 (as seen from ''lsb_release -d'') then starting from August 4, 2016 my kernel and graphics stack will no longer receive package updates?

Not true. The output of lsb-release is not indicative of whether are not you have an HWE stack installed. You should use hwe-support-status to determine where or not you have an unsupported HWE stack installed.

How can I stop using an HWE stack?

You can remove an HWE stack using the following:

sudo apt-get remove $(hwe-support-status --show-all-unsupported)

However before rebooting, you should make sure that you still have a 3.13 kernel installed by checking in /boot or reinstalling linux-generic and linux-image-generic.

1404_HWE_EOL (last edited 2016-08-29 19:52:26 by brian-murray)