You can obtain the source via anonymous ftp from
/pub/Linux/PEOPLE/Linus, a mirror, or other sites.
It is typically labelled
is the version number. Newer (better?) versions and the patches are
typically in subdirectories such as `
v1.1' and `
The highest number is the latest version, and is usually a ``test
release,'' meaning that if you feel uneasy about beta or alpha releases,
you should stay with a major release.
I strongly suggest that you use a mirror ftp site instead of ftp.funet.fi. Here is a short list of mirrors and other sites:
USA: sunsite.unc.edu:/pub/Linux/kernel USA: tsx-11.mit.edu:/pub/linux/sources/system UK: sunsite.doc.ic.ac.uk:/pub/unix/Linux/sunsite.unc-mirror/kernel Austria: ftp.univie.ac.at:/systems/linux/sunsite/kernel Germany: ftp.Germany.EU.net:/pub/os/Linux/Local.EUnet/Kernel/Linus Germany: sunsite.informatik.rwth-aachen.de:/pub/Linux/PEOPLE/Linus France: ftp.ibp.fr:/pub/linux/sources/system/patches Australia: sunsite.anu.edu.au:/pub/linux/kernel
In general, a mirror of
sunsite.unc.edu is a good place to look.
/pub/Linux/MIRRORS contains a list of known mirrors. If you do not
have ftp access, a list of BBS systems which carry linux
is posted periodically to comp.os.linux.announce; try to obtain this.
If you were looking for general Linux information and distributions, try
Log in as or
su to `
If you installed kernel source when you first installed linux (as most do),
there will already be a directory called `
linux' there, which
contains the entire old source tree.
If you have the disk space and you want to play it safe, preserve that
directory. A good idea is to figure out
what version your system runs now and rename the directory
accordingly. The command `
uname -r' prints the current
Therefore, if `
uname -r' said `
1.0.9', you would
rename (with `
linux' to `
If you feel mildly reckless, just wipe out the entire
directory. In any case, make certain there is no `
/usr/src before unpacking the full source code.
/usr/src, unpack the source with
tar zxpvf linux-x.y.z.tar.gz'
(if you've just got a
.tar file with no
.gz at the end,
tar xpvf linux-x.y.z.tar' works.).
The contents of the source will fly by. When finished, there will be
a new `
linux' directory in
linux and look over the
There will be a section with the label `
INSTALLING the kernel'.
Carry out the instructions when appropriate -- symbolic links that should
be in place, removal of stale
.o files, etc.
Note: Some of this is reiteration/clarification of a similar
section in Linus'
The command `
make config' while in
a configure script which asks you many questions. It requires bash,
so verify that bash is
There are some alternatives to `
make config' and you may very well
find them easier and more comfortable to use. For those ``running X,'' you
can try `
make xconfig' if you have Tk installed (`click-o-rama' -
make menuconfig' is for those who have
(n)curses and would prefer a text-based menu. These interfaces have one
clear advantage: If you goof up and make a
wrong choice during configuration, it is simple to go back and fix it.
You are ready to answer the questions, usually with `
y' (yes) or
n' (no). Device drivers typically have an `
This means ``module,'' meaning that the system will compile it, but not
directly into the kernel, but as a loadable module. A more comical way to
describe it is as ``maybe.'' Some of the
more obvious and non-critical options are not described here; see the section
``Other configuration options'' for short descriptions of a few others.
In 2.0.x and later, there is a `?' option, which provides a brief description of the configuration parameter. That information is likely to be the most up-to-date.
If you don't have a math coprocessor (you have a bare 386 or
486SX), you must say `
y' to this. If you do have a coprocessor and
you still say `
y', don't worry too much -- the coprocessor is
still used and the emulation ignored. The only consequence is that the
kernel will be larger (costing RAM). I have been told that the math
emulation is slow; although this does not have much to do with this
section, it might be something to keep in mind when faced with sluggish
X window system performance.
You probably need to support this; it means that the kernel will support standard PC hard disks, which most people have. This driver does not include SCSI drives; they come later in the configuration.
You will then be asked about the ``old disk-only'' and ``new IDE'' drivers. You want to choose one of them; the main difference is that the old driver only supports two disks on a single interface, and the new one supports a secondary interface and IDE/ATAPI cdrom drives. The new driver is 4k larger than the old one and is also supposedly ``improved,'' meaning that aside from containing a different number of bugs, it might improve your disk performance, especially if you have newer (EIDE-type) hardware.
In principle, you would only say `
y' if your machine is on a network
such as the internet, or you want to use SLIP, PPP, term, etc to
dial up for internet access. However, as many packages (such as the X
require networking support even if your machine does not live on a real
network, you should say `
y'. Later on, you will be asked if you
want to support TCP/IP networking; again, say `
y' here if you
are not absolutely sure.
There exist buggy 386 DMA controllers
which have problems with addressing anything more than 16 MB of
RAM; you want to say `
y' in the (rare) case that you have one.
One of the best definitions of IPC (Interprocess Communication) is in the
Perl book's glossary. Not surprisingly, some Perl programmers employ it to
let processes talk to each other, as well as many other packages (DOOM,
most notably), so it is not a good idea to say
n unless you know
exactly what you are doing.
(in older kernels: Use -m486 flag for 486-specific optimizations)
Traditionally, this compiled in certain optimizations for a particular processor; the kernels ran fine on other chips, but the kernel was perhaps a bit larger. In newer kernels, however, this is no longer true, so you should enter the processor for which you are compiling the kernel. A ``386'' kernel will work on all machines.
If you have SCSI devices, say `
y'. You will be prompted for
further information, such as support for CD-ROM, disks, and what kind
of SCSI adapter you have. See the SCSI-HOWTO for greater detail.
If you have a network card, or you would like to use SLIP, PPP, or a
parallel port adapter for connecting to the Internet,
y'. The config script will prompt
for which kind of card you have, and which protocol to use.
The configure script then asks if you wish to support the following filesystems:
Standard (minix) - Newer distributions don't create minix filesystems, and many people don't use it, but it may still be a good idea to configure this one. Some ``rescue disk'' programs use it, and still more floppies may have a minix filesystem, since the minix filesystem is less painful to use on a floppy.
Extended fs - This was the first version of the extended filesystem, which is no longer in widespread use. Chances are that you'll know it if you need it and that if you are doubt, you do not need it.
Second extended - This is widely used in new distributions. You
probably have one of these, and need to say `
xiafs filesystem - At one time, this was not uncommon, but at the time of this writing, I did not know of anyone using it.
msdos - If you want to use your MS-DOS hard disk
partitions, or mount MS-DOS formatted floppy disks, say `
umsdos - This filesystem expands an MS-DOS filesystem with usual Unix-like features such as long filenames. It is not useful for people (like me) who ``don't do DOS.''
/proc - Another one of the greatest things since powdered milk (idea
shamelessly stolen from Bell Labs, I guess). One doesn't make a proc
filesystem on a disk; this is a filesystem interface to the kernel and
processes. Many process listers (such as `
ps') use it. Try
cat /proc/meminfo' or `
cat /proc/devices' sometime.
Some shells (rc, in particular) use
/proc/self/fd (known as
on other systems) for I/O. You should almost certainly say `
this; many important linux tools depend on it.
NFS - If your machine lives on a network and you want to use filesystems which
reside on other systems with NFS, say `
ISO9660 - Found on most CD-ROMs. If you have a CD-ROM drive and you wish to
use it under Linux, say `
OS/2 HPFS - At the time of this writing, a read-only fs for OS/2 HPFS.
System V and Coherent - for partitions of System V and Coherent systems (These are other PC Unix variants).
Ok, type `
mount'. The output will look something like this:
blah# mount /dev/hda1 on / type ext2 (defaults) /dev/hda3 on /usr type ext2 (defaults) none on /proc type proc (defaults) /dev/fd0 on /mnt type msdos (defaults)
Look at each line; the word next to `
type' is the filesystem
type. In this example, my
/usr filesystems are
second extended, I'm using
/proc, and there's a floppy
disk mounted using the msdos (bleah) filesystem.
You can try `
cat /proc/filesystems' if you have
currently enabled; it will list your current kernel's filesystems.
The configuration of rarely-used, non-critical filesystems can cause kernel bloat; see the section on modules for a way to avoid this and the ``Pitfalls'' section on why a bloated kernel is undesirable.
Here, you enable the drivers for your printer (parallel printer, that is),
busmouse, PS/2 mouse (many notebooks use the PS/2 mouse protocol for their
built-in trackballs), some tape drives, and other such ``character''
devices. Say `
Note: Selection is a program which allows the use of the mouse outside of the X window system for cut and paste between virtual consoles. It's fairly nice if you have a serial mouse, because it coexists well with X, but you need to do special tricks for others. Selection support was a configuration option at one time, but is now standard.
Note 2: Selection is now considered obsolete. ``gpm'' is the name of the new program. It can do fancier things, such translate mouse protocols, handle multiple mice, ..
If you feel a great desire to hear
biff bark, say
and later on, another config program will compile and ask you all about your
sound board. (A note on sound card configuration: when it asks you if you
want to install the full version of the driver, you can say `
and save some kernel memory by picking only the features which you deem
necessary.) I highly recommend looking at the Sound-HOWTO for more detail
about sound support if you have a sound card.
Not all of the configuration options are listed here because they change
too often or fairly self-evident (for instance, 3Com 3C509 support to
compile the device drive for this particular ethernet card).
There exists a fairly comprehensive list of all the options (plus a way to
place them into the
Configure script) put together by Axel Boldt
email@example.com) with the following URL:
http://math-www.uni-paderborn.de/~axel/config_help.htmlor via anonymous FTP at:
x.yzis the version number.
For later (2.0.x and later) kernels, this has been integrated into the source tree.
>From Linus' README:
the ``kernel hacking'' configuration details usually result in a bigger or slower kernel (or both), and can even make the kernel less stable by configuring some routines to actively try to break bad code to find kernel problems (kmalloc()). Thus you should probably answer `n' to the questions for a ``production'' kernel.
make config, a message tells you that your kernel has
been configured, and to ``check the top-level
additional configuration,'' etc.
So, look at the
Makefile. You probably will not need to change it,
but it never hurts to look. You can also change its options
with the `
rdev' command once the new kernel is in place.