[Novalug] Kernel Compiles
maxlists at maxwellspangler.com
Sat Apr 10 22:49:34 EDT 2010
> Maxwell Spangler <maxlists at maxwellspangler.com> wrote:
> > When was the last time you compiled your own kernel?
> > And why did you feel the need to do it?
On Sat, 2010-04-10 at 18:08 -0400, Jay Berkenbilt wrote:
> Last time I compiled my own kernel was in 2004. I needed xfs and I
> Just wondering...why are you asking?
Like most others I had not compiled a kernel in at least six or eight
years, probably even longer. Yesterday as part of my ongoing Linux
certifications studies I decided to recompile a kernel.
Despite starting with Linux around 1992 and compiling kernels so often I
could do it without thinking, yesterday I couldn't even figure out what
rpm package contained the source code. The process is now drastically
different from what it once was and the guides I found online repeatedly
caution you away from recompiling as though you're working with
You can recall that scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind when
Richard Dreyfus is driving past dead cattle and busting through barbed
wire gates to see what the government is hiding from him: Kernel
recompiling these days is of like that, with less aliens.
My queries to all of you (over four Linux user groups) produced
approximately the same answer: It's been five to ten years since most
users have needed to recompile a kernel. High quality distributions,
modules and things like kABI have allowed you to avoid needing to
recompile whole kernels. You know just download updated pre-compiled
modules or compile modules on the fly to be inserted into existing
My personal reasons used to be:
* Leaner kernels for the 386/486 era when memory was precious (no longer
* To switch to a 'new' or 'experimental' driver instead of a default
existing but lacking driver (aic7xxx, perhaps) (now done through
* To disable modules which took a long time to time-out on slow hardware
to speed up boot times (now done through modules)
* To apply patches provided for things like SMP support back in the days
when you could chat with the driver author on a mailing list, receive a
patch directly from them, patch a standard kernel and test it out.
Today's distribution kernels are too different from the mainline kernel
for me to think that'd be anywhere near as easy as it was.
To put it simply, I enjoyed compiling kernels back then because it gave
me a feeling of personal involvement and personalization at the core of
my own Linux workstation. These days, I am happy to let the
distributions do the work for me, there are plenty of other things for
me to get my hands dirty with on Linux.
Thanks to all who responded!
Linux, Unix and Database Administration
Currently: Boulder, Colorado
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