Rebuilding the kernel for non-experts

Kernel Business

Article from Issue 69/2006

Worried about a recent security exploit? Want to take advantage of a new hardware feature? You don’t need to be a Linux expert to patch and compile the Linux kernel. We'll show you how to get started.

The kernel allocates memory to applications, controls access to the filesystem, and performs many other important tasks, but for most users, the kernel is always hiding behind a shell or a GUI. Ordinary users usually don’t need to tinker with the kernel. The Linux kernel, however, is actually quite visible – it resides in the /boot/vmlinuzkernelversion file. Depending on your distribution, the kernel can occupy 1 or 2MB on disk. But this single file is only part of the picture. The files below /lib/modules/[kernelversion] are just as much a part of the kernel. This directory weighs in at no less than 70MB on Suse 10.0, but not everything in this directory requires memory space. In fact, the modules in this directory are just loaded on demand.

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    Klaus Knopper is the creator of Knoppix and co-founder of the LinuxTag expo. He currently works as a teacher, programmer, and consultant. If you have a configuration problem, or if you just want to learn more about how Linux works, send your questions to: klaus@linux-magazine. com

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