Each distribution has some specific tools to build a custom kernel from the sources. This article is about compiling a kernel on Mandriva systems. It describes how to build a custom kernel using the latest unmodified kernel sources from www.kernel.org (vanilla kernel) so that you are independent from the kernels supplied by your distribution. It also shows how to patch the kernel sources if you need features that are not in there.
I have tested this on Mandriva Free 2007.
I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!
1 Preliminary Note
The goal of this tutorial is to build a kernel rpm package that can be installed on the system, and that you can share with others and install on other Mandriva systems which is a big advantage compared to the “traditional” way where you don’t end up with an rpm package.
2 Download The Kernel Sources
First we download our desired kernel to /usr/src. Go to www.kernel.org and select the kernel you want to install, e.g. linux-126.96.36.199.tar.bz2 (you can find all 2.6 kernels here: http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v2.6/). Then you can download it to /usr/src like this:
Then we unpack the kernel sources and create a symlink linux to the kernel sources directory:
tar xjf linux-188.8.131.52.tar.bz2
ln -s linux-184.108.40.206 linux
3 Apply Patches To The Kernel Sources (Optional)
Sometimes you need drivers for hardware that isn’t supported by the new kernel by default, or you need support for virtualization techniques or some other bleeding-edge technology that hasn’t made it to the kernel yet. In all these cases you have to patch the kernel sources (provided there is a patch available…).
Now let’s assume you have downloaded the needed patch (I call it patch.bz2 in this example) to /usr/src. This is how you apply it to your kernel sources (you must still be in the /usr/src/linux directory):
bzip2 -dc /usr/src/patch.bz2 | patch -p1 –dry-run
bzip2 -dc /usr/src/patch.bz2 | patch -p1
The first command is just a test, it does nothing to your sources. If it doesn’t show errors, you can run the second command which actually applies the patch. Don’t do it if the first command shows errors!
If your patches are compressed with gzip (.gz) instead of bzip2 (.bz2), then you patch your kernel as follows:
gunzip -c /usr/src/patch.gz | patch -p1 –dry-run
gunzip -c /usr/src/patch.gz | patch -p1
You can also apply kernel prepatches to your kernel sources. For example, if you need a feature that is available only in kernel 2.6.19-rc6, but the full sources haven’t been released yet for this kernel. Instead, a patch-2.6.19-rc6.bz2 is available. You can apply that patch to the 2.6.18 kernel sources, but not to kernel 220.127.116.11 or 18.104.22.168 or 22.214.171.124, etc. This is explained on http://kernel.org/patchtypes/pre.html:
Prepatches are the equivalent to alpha releases for Linux; they live in the testing directories in the archives. They should be applied using the patch(1) utility to the source code of the previous full release with a 3-part version number (for example, the 2.6.12-rc4 prepatch should be applied to the 2.6.11 kernel sources, not, for example, 126.96.36.199.)
So if you want to compile a 2.6.19-rc6 kernel, you must download the 2.6.18 kernel sources (http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v2.6/linux-2.6.18.tar.bz2) in step 2 instead of kernel 188.8.131.52!
This is how you apply the 2.6.19-rc6 patch to kernel 2.6.18:
bzip2 -dc /usr/src/patch-2.6.19-rc6.bz2 | patch -p1 –dry-run
bzip2 -dc /usr/src/patch-2.6.19-rc6.bz2 | patch -p1
4 Configure The Kernel
It’s a good idea to use the configuration of your current working kernel as a basis for your new kernel. Therefore we copy the existing configuration to /usr/src/linux:
make clean && make mrproper
cp /boot/config-`uname -r` ./.config
Then we run
which brings up the kernel configuration menu. Go to Load an Alternate Configuration File and choose .config (which contains the configuration of your current working kernel) as the configuration file:
Then browse through the kernel configuration menu and make your choices. Make sure you specify a kernel version identification string under General Setup —> () Local version – append to kernel release. I use -default so our kernel rpm package will be named kernel-184.108.40.206default-1.i386.rpm. You can leave the string empty or specify a different one which helps you identify the kernel (e.g. -custom or whatever you like).
Please note: After you have installed kernel-220.127.116.11default-1.i386.rpm and decide to compile another 18.104.22.168 kernel rpm package, it is important to use a different version string, e.g. -default1, -default2, etc., because otherwise you can’t install your new kernel because rpm complains that kernel-22.214.171.124default-1.i386.rpm is already installed!
When you are finished and select Exit, answer the following question (Do you wish to save your new kernel configuration?) with Yes:
5 Build The Kernel
To build the kernel, simply execute this command:
Now be patient, the kernel compilation can take some hours, depending on your kernel configuration and your processor speed.
6 Install The New Kernel
After the successful kernel build, a src.rpm and an rpm package have been created. The src.rpm package can be found in the /usr/src/rpm/SRPMS/ directory, you can find out about its name by running
ls -l /usr/src/rpm/SRPMS/
On my system it was called kernel-126.96.36.199default-1.src.rpm.
The rpm package can be found in /usr/src/rpm/RPMS/i386/, /usr/src/rpm/RPMS/i586/, /usr/src/rpm/RPMS/i686/, /usr/src/rpm/RPMS/x86_64/, etc., depending on your architecture. On my system it was located in /usr/src/rpm/RPMS/i386/, and by running
ls -l /usr/src/rpm/RPMS/i386/
I found out that its name was kernel-188.8.131.52default-1.i386.rpm.
Now we can install our kernel rpm package like this:
rpm -ivh kernel-184.108.40.206default-1.i386.rpm
You can now even transfer the kernel rpm package to other Mandriva systems and install it there exactly the same way, which means you don’t have to compile the kernel there again.
Next we create a ramdisk for our new kernel, because otherwise the system will most likely not boot our new kernel:
mkinitrd /boot/initrd-220.127.116.11-default.img 18.104.22.168-default
7 Configure The LILO Boot Loader
Now we must configure our LILO boot loader so that our new kernels gets booted when we restart the system.
ls -l /boot
to find out about your new kernel (typically begins with vmlinuz, e.g. vmlinuz-22.214.171.124-default) and ramdisk (typically begins with initrd, e.g. initrd-126.96.36.199-default.img).
Then edit /etc/lilo.conf. Have a look at your existing (working) kernel stanzas there and take one of them as a sample for your new stanza and replace the kernel and ramdisk, then add the stanza above all other stanzas. Make sure you specify a unique name for that kernel in the label line (e.g. linux-188.8.131.52-default) and specify exactly the same name in the default line so that the kernel gets booted when you restart the system.
For example, my lilo.conf looks like this before I add the new stanza:
# File generated by DrakX/drakboot # WARNING: do not forget to run lilo after modifying this file default="linux" boot=/dev/sda map=/boot/map keytable=/boot/us.klt menu-scheme=wb:bw:wb:bw compact prompt nowarn timeout=100 message=/boot/message image=/boot/vmlinuz label="linux" root=/dev/sda6 initrd=/boot/initrd.img append=" resume=/dev/sda5 splash=silent" vga=788 image=/boot/vmlinuz label="linux-nonfb" root=/dev/sda6 initrd=/boot/initrd.img append=" resume=/dev/sda5" image=/boot/vmlinuz label="failsafe" root=/dev/sda6 initrd=/boot/initrd.img append=" failsafe resume=/dev/sda5"
and like this afterwards (keep in mind what I said about the label and default lines):
# File generated by DrakX/drakboot # WARNING: do not forget to run lilo after modifying this file default="linux-184.108.40.206-default" boot=/dev/sda map=/boot/map keytable=/boot/us.klt menu-scheme=wb:bw:wb:bw compact prompt nowarn timeout=100 message=/boot/message image=/boot/vmlinuz-220.127.116.11-default label="linux-18.104.22.168-default" root=/dev/sda6 initrd=/boot/initrd-22.214.171.124-default.img append=" resume=/dev/sda5 splash=silent" vga=788 image=/boot/vmlinuz label="linux" root=/dev/sda6 initrd=/boot/initrd.img append=" resume=/dev/sda5 splash=silent" vga=788 image=/boot/vmlinuz label="linux-nonfb" root=/dev/sda6 initrd=/boot/initrd.img append=" resume=/dev/sda5" image=/boot/vmlinuz label="failsafe" root=/dev/sda6 initrd=/boot/initrd.img append=" failsafe resume=/dev/sda5"
Now reboot the system:
shutdown -r now
If everything goes well, it should come up with the new kernel. You can check if it’s really using your new kernel by running
This should display something like
If the system doesn’t start, restart it, and when you come to the LILO boot loader menu, select your old kernel and start the system:
You can now try again to compile a working kernel. Don’t forget to remove the stanza of the not-working kernel from /etc/lilo.conf, and make sure you run
after modifying /etc/lilo.conf.
- Mandriva: http://www.mandriva.com
- The Linux Kernel Archives: http://www.kernel.org