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Kernel Configuration


The next task is to configure the kernel to suit your setup. There are very many configuration options and most can be ignored. Each also has a brief but helpful piece of documentation in /usr/src/linux/Documentation/Configure.help.

There are three methods available for selecting the configuration. The first and most basic is config which presents each option, sequentially, for you to decide what to do. This is a long process. The menu-based menuconfig presents a menu in a terminal. Options are grouped hierarchically and you can navigate to the specific options you wish to modify. The X Window System configurator is xconfig. We might suggest xconfig as the more convenient of the methods, but menuconfig is a good alternative if there is no X Window System running.

A good starting point for configuration is the basic configuration that is the default provided by Debian. You then refine the configuration. For an installed kernel-image you can find its configuration in /boot/config-2.4.16, for example. A simple approach to configuration is to copy the installed kernel's configuration as the starting point and simply enable the options missing from that configuration (e.g., SMP):



  # cp /boot/config-2.4.16-686 kernel-source-2.4.16/.config

However, you may be better off starting with no .config. A default configuration will be installed and you can then add to this support for your specific hardware.

Below is a record of my configurations for Mint (101.32) and Velox (101.31) where configuration started with no /usr/src/kernel-source-2.4.16/.config:

  # cd kernel-source-2.4.16
  # make xconfig (or menuconfig or config)
        -> CONFIG_M686=y
      Plug and Play support
        -> CONFIG_PNP=y
      Block devices
        -> CONFIG_BLK_DEV_IDECD=m (previously y)        
        -> CONFIG_BLK_DEV_IDESCSI=m     
        -> CONFIG_BLK_DEV_LOOP=m
      Networking options
        -> CONFIG_FIREWALL=y                            Mint
        -> CONFIG_IP_FIREWALL=y                         Mint
        -> CONFIG_IP_MASQUERADE=y                       Mint
        -> CONFIG_IP_MASQUERADE_ICMP=y                  Mint
      SCSI support
        -> CONFIG_BLK_DEV_SR=m (previously y)
        -> CONFIG_BLK_DEV_SR_VENDOR=y
        -> CONFIG_CHR_DEV_SG=m
      SCSI support -> SCSI low-level drivers
        -> CONFIG_SCSI_AIC7XXX=y                        Velox
      Network device support -> Ethernet (10 or 100Mbit) 
        -> CONFIG_NET_VENDOR_3COM=y
        -> CONFIG_VORTEX=m
      Network device support
        -> CONFIG_PPP=y                                 Mint
      Filesystems
        -> CONFIG_ISO9660_FS=y
        -> CONFIG_JOLIET=y
        -> CONFIG_NTFS_FS=m
        -> CONFIG_FAT_FS=m
        -> CONFIG_MSDOS_FS=m
        -> CONFIG_VFAT_FS=m
      Sound
        -> CONFIG_SOUND=m               (Will use ALSA modules)

For Alpine (101.25) and Bartok (101.6) the configuration began with a copy of config-2.4.16-686-smp and /boot/config-2.4.16 respectively and the following were modified for the extra memory and SMP.



    Processor Type and Features
      CONFIG_MPENTIUMIII=y
      CONFIG_HIGHMEM4G=y (originally off)
      CONFIG_HIGHMEM=y (set automatically)
      CONFIG_SMP=y (already set)

For the laptop Inco the initial configuration was that of /boot/config-2.4.16-686 then modified as:

    Processor Type and Features
      CONFIG_MPENTIUMIII=y

This is not really needed though as I believe this simply adds some minor tunings to the kernel.

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