[SATLUG] compiling a kernel

Bruce Dubbs bruce.dubbs at gmail.com
Tue Jun 24 22:02:35 CDT 2008

Chris Lemire wrote:
> How long does it usually take a Linux user to configure his or her first
> kernel ready for compiling? I still don't know whether or not to include many
> things in, have them as modules or not have support for them at all into the
> kernel. I guess a person will spend quite a while Googling each item to see
> how it should be configured. The help pages help but still is not obvious for
> every feature of the kernel whether include, make it a module or not have
> support for it at all.

I like menuconfig.  If you go to the help page for each option, it will normally 
say "If unsure say Y." (or N).  If you don't know, use the recommendation.

I generally don't like modules.  I know what my hardware is and build that into 
the kernel.  The main reason for modules is for distros that don't know what the 
target hardware will be, so they try everything.

On the other hand, sometimes modules are your only option.  I use two: Nvidia 
and VMware.  They are both proprietary.

Also, you don't need initrd when compiling you own kernel.  You know the file 
system types you use, so just build them into the kernel.  initrd is again for 
distros who don't know if their users will boot to ext2/3, reiserfs, jfs, xfs, 
etc.  In that case, you don't want a lot of unused drivers built into the kernel.

The initial build of a kernel doesn't have to be perfect.  You can always go 
back to a known good kernel and try again.  Forgetting a driver or other option 
is common.  Rebuilding, copying the appropriate files to /boot and rebooting can 
get very fast with a few repetitions.

   -- Bruce

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