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Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
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9.2 What tools does Debian provide to build custom kernels?

Users who wish to (or must) build a custom kernel are encouraged to download the package kernel-package. This package contains the script to build the kernel package, and provides the capability to create a Debian kernel-image-version package just by running the command

     make-kpkg kernel_image

in the top-level kernel source directory. Help is available by executing the command

     make-kpkg --help

and through the manual page make-kpkg(1).

Users must separately download the source code for the most recent kernel (or the kernel of their choice) from their favorite Linux archive site, unless a kernel-source-version package is available (where version stands for the kernel version).

Detailed instructions for using the kernel-package package are given in the file /usr/share/doc/kernel-package/README.gz. Briefly, one should:

  • Unpack the kernel sources, and cd to the newly created directory.
  • Modify the kernel configuration using one of these commands:
    • make config (for a text-based interface).
    • make menuconfig (for an ncurses-based menu driven interface). Note that to use this option, the libncurses5-dev package must be installed.
    • make xconfig (for an X11 interface). Using this option requires that relevant X and Tcl/Tk packages be installed.

    Any of the above steps generates a new .config in the top-level kernel source directory.

  • Execute the command: make-kpkg -rev Custom.N kernel_image, where N is a revision number assigned by the user. The new Debian archive thus formed would have revision Custom.N, e.g. kernel-image-2.2.14_Custom.1_i386.deb for the Linux kernel 2.2.14 on i386.
  • Install the package created.
    • Run dpkg --install ../kernel-image-VVV_Custom.N_i386.deb to install the kernel itself. The installation script will:
      • run the boot loader (grub, LILO or some other) if needed,
      • install the custom kernel in /boot/vmlinuz_VVV-Custom.N, and set up appropriate symbolic links to the most recent kernel version.
    • To employ secondary boot loaders such as loadlin, copy this image to other locations (e.g. to an MS-DOS partition).

Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
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