Saturday, 17 September 2011

5 Leaves Left

Rolling a fat one (kernels)

It's been 5 years since I've had to roll my own kernel and things have changed. I've always viewed ramdisks as somewhat of a dark art, but they appear to be highly configurable. I was just too lazy/in too much of a hurry in the past to find out how they were built.

So, download the source from (or for our UK based viewers).

Unpack into /usr/src as per normal and make the symlink

# cd /usr/src
# ln -s linux-2.x.yz.ab linux
# cd linux

Copy the appropriate config file from wherever you want /boot/config* is a good first stab.
# cp config-2.x.yz.ab-generic .config

Edit the Makefile and add your appropriate Extraversion


EXTRAVERSION = .ab-generic
NAME = Flesh-Eating Bats with Fangs


NAME = Flesh-Eating Bats with Fangs

Time to update the config. oldconfig saves time as it just builds/converts and makes sensible decisions for you. make config is for the hardcore.

# make oldconfig
# make menuconfig
Tweak as necessary.
Copy .config config-2.x.yz.ab-tb1

If you want to build a Debian package, then the easiest way is:
# make-kpkg kernel_image --append-to-version tommybobbins1

Slightly oddly make-kpkg doesn't make the initrd.img correctly (as far as I could see- loads of people reporting errors, but only hacks to fix it). I decided to roll my own as I was determined to understand exactly what I needed to get it to boot. Also Automagic grub editing on roll your own kernels gives me the heeby-jeebies.

If you like to roll and deploy old school:

# make bzImage; make modules; make modules_install

Now you need a Ramdisk. Now there is a clever little directory which is called /etc/initramfs-tools. You need to understand this directory quite well - modules and initramfs.conf being very important.

I made my own copy of this directory as I had particular needs (needed to make sure the SATA drivers were loaded into the Ramdisk) so I created /etc/initramfs-tools-custom and then added to /etc/initramfs-tools-custom/modules

# List of modules that you want to include in your initramfs.
# Syntax: module_name [args ...]
# You must run update-initramfs(8) to effect this change.
# Examples:
# raid1
# sd_mod

Now it's time to create our Ramdisk:

# mkinitramfs -d /etc/initramfs-tools-custom -o initrd.img-2.x.yz.ab-tb1 2.x.yz.ab-tb1

Gather all the needed files
# mkdir /home/tommybobbins/Desktop/DEPLOY_KERNEL/
# cp /usr/src/linux/ /home/tommybobbins/Desktop/DEPLOY_KERNEL/
# cp initrd.img-2.x.yz.ab-tb1 /home/tommybobbins/Desktop/DEPLOY_KERNEL
# cp /usr/src/linux/arch/i386/boot/bzImage /home/tommybobbins/Desktop/DEPLOY_KERNEL/vmlinuz-2.x.yz.ab-tb1
# zip -r /home/tommybobbins/Desktop/DEPLOY_KERNEL/ /lib/modules/2.x.yz.ab-tb1/

Obviously, the, the Kernel and the Ramdisk need to end up in /boot and the modules need to end up in /lib/modules/2.x.yz.ab-tb1

If using Grub <2 and assuming your root filesystem is on /dev/sda1 then edit /boot/grub/menu.lst and add the following:

title TEST
root (hd1,0)
kernel /vmlinuz-2.x.yz.ab-tb1 root=/dev/sda1 ro
initrd /initrd.img-2.x.yz.ab-tb1

Save and then run grub-install

# /usr/sbin/grub-install /dev/sda

If using GRUB2, then please see here:

Next post about Netbooting, gPXE's epicness and making monolithic kernels (and when did monolithic kernels go from floppy sized to 4MB?).

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