Linked by Clinton De Young on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 03:07 UTC
Debian and its clones If you are reading this, I assume you already know what the Linux kernel is and why you may want to update it. However, if you are accidentally reading this walkthrough, just happen to be running Linux, and have no idea what the kernel is or why you would want to update it, the next two paragraphs are for you (if you are looking instead into a less verbose and more generic way of updating your kernel on any Linux distro, read here). In a neophyte nutshell, the Linux kernel is the brain of the Linux system. It tells your system which file systems, hardware, protocols, etc. are supported. There is a lot more to it than that, of course, but I think that diminutive description will suffice for now.
Order by: Score:
That's what I'm talking about!
by bax on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 04:22 UTC

Articles like this are what most Linux users are looking for! Slashdot usually is a little too snobbish to post stuff like this but people need this. Hell of a lot easier than being told to RTFM on some mailing list. Good job, Clinton!

Um... not as Debianized as it should be
by Strike on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 05:09 UTC

Considering you can install the kernel source via apt, and basically just untar, copy a config files, run make oldconfig, and then run the make-kpkg stuff ... this tutorial is more like a generic kernel install than it needs to be. Plus the kernel sources gotten via apt have been patched for cramfs support so you can use the nice initrd option that is standard in debian kernels, which you don't get from vanilla sources.

RE Strike
by Iconoclast on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 07:24 UTC

Strike, I think your post is indicatave of the problem new users to Linux, or Debian in this case, have. People who are familiar with any given process are all too happy to teach new users how to do whatever it is in an extremely terse and impossible to understand format. Then they get mad when the new user has questions and tell him/her to go RTFM. A pseudo-polite way of saying use Windows you pathetic imbicile.

Reading your post, someone new to obtaining, configuring and compiling a kernel under Debian would know, perhaps, that they could use apt to get the latest kernel, but what do they type? They don't know, so your instructions become useless to them. If they do figure the apt part out somehow, how do they untar those sources? Where do they put them once they are untarred? What config files do they copy? What is the cramfs patch and why do they want it? What is the nice initrd option you mention and why would they want it?

I'm glad that there are people like Clinton out there who are willing to spend a good deal of their time (for free I would expect) writing instructions like this. I think it is very helpful for new users. Once somebody is able to get familiar with compiling their kernel using some good directions, then they can branch out from there and explore other options. I think this article is a great place to start.

Many years ago, I worked in technical support helping people with their computer hardware problems. One of the things the company I worked for made us do was have the customers open their computers and do things like pull out the sound card and modem in order to troubleshoot problems. Many people were very timid of doing this. I found that by talking them through it and verbally holding their hand and reassuring them the task was indeed possible every few seconds, they were comforted and were able to do what they considered a very difficult task. I think this article provides new users with that type of reassurance and guidance. Its nice to see that not all Linux users are terse and selfish with their knowledge.

Thanks Clinton for giving new users an excellent place to start.

re: RE Strike
by Senor-D on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 08:47 UTC

Iconoclast: have you ever considered the occasions where people are told to RTFM, because *gasp* the questions they are asking are in the manual or man pages?

Just because someone points you to documentation doesn't mean they think you're an idiot.

Re: re: RE Strike
by Anonymous on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 08:52 UTC

Senor-D: Do you think the solutions to problems could be made intuitive enough that referring to the manual was not required?

good debian kernel tut on linuxorbit
by anon on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 09:13 UTC

there's a good debian specific kernel howto on linuxorbit.com

Well done
by Marcus on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 09:37 UTC

Great article, I'm sure lots of people will find it usefull.

just a missing point
by fm on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 09:57 UTC

I have installed debian reading Clinton's install post easily. This article answers to many questions that I didn't resolve after Debian install . Just one missing point which confuses many newbies. There should be some directions about compiling ACPI in the kernel or how to enable apm in Debian especially for laptop users.

I think that about apm the problem could be resolve easily by just adding this line in /etc/lilo/conf append="apm=on" , but practically nobody says that

Just a newbie thought.

re: RE Strike
by Marco Alanen on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 10:34 UTC

Iconoclast: have you ever considered the occasions where people are told to RTFM, because *gasp* the questions they are asking are in the manual or man pages?

Just because someone points you to documentation doesn't mean they think you're an idiot.


They often tell you to RTFM even though the answer to the actual question is usually just a one line command or parameter. Sure, people should learn to check the manuals, but people should also learn to answer in a proper way when they know the simple answer.

Clinton De Young Rocks.
by New at this stuff Jones on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 11:26 UTC

What a great resource! Can't say thanks enough.

article not debian specific
by samb on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 12:03 UTC

I didn't notice anything Debian specific in that article. Debian users should use make-kpkg. Makes it so much easier.

RTFM!!!
by emey on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 12:30 UTC

The above doesn't work especially for newbies. It is easy for an experienced person to say and do it but not for newbies. Sometime the newbies ask "How to RTFM" since they don't even know about man ..., info...., *** --help and other command to read the manual. There are a lot more people than came from non-unix world comapared to those familiar with the said command that unix use.

So the best thing is the articles such as this one. And for any newbies that looking for guidelines on Linux, most information can be found easily at http://www.tldp.org . Here many howtos are available for reference. Other alternative is just googling the web.

By the way, I think Debian kernel source for 2.4.20 still didn't fix the bugs fo ALI 15x3 chipset which cause the kernel to hang during boot time. I've to path it to eanble my laptop to work. And I think many other distro also having this problem such as Mandrake.

Re: Iconoclast
by Anonymous on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 12:35 UTC

Its nice to see that not all Linux users are terse and selfish with their knowledge.

As someone who has put forth a lot of effort in documenting process such as getting your CD burner working, building a kernel, and creating your own LAMP project (besides numerous other papers and howto's), I take great offense to this comment. It's not that all advanced users are adverse to helping newbies... it's that most topics (especially building a kernel) have been documented extensively online already. I find that most beginners are just too lazy (yes, lazy!) to research this information at all.

Just as you shouldn't stereotype about all advanced users, I shouldn't cast all beginners into this role. Fact is, I had to start somewhere as well... it was at a local Linux User's Group. The folks there were very helpful, and I go back routinely to give talks on a variety of topics.

Again, it's not that "we" are being terse... but we appreciate when folks show some manner of effort. Particularly since we aren't getting paid for any of our services. It seems like the only time most newbies are even aware of our work is when they might get promoted on a site like this. Heaven forbid they use Google to find the information they require.

-fp

Re: Iconoclast
by fuzzyping on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 12:36 UTC

Sorry, didn't mean to post that anonymously.

-fp

Iconoclast
by Strike on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 13:31 UTC

I'll have you know that I've spent plenty of time writing documentation that wasn't just for Linux, but specifically geared at newbies. Not only that, I've given personal attention to helping newbies become more familiar with Linux for about 3 years now. I've written several articles for what was LinuxNewbie.org and has recently become JustLinux.com, not to mention I moderated the forums there (for a span of time there, I was pretty much the only moderator around) for several years, helping innumerable people both directly and through maintaining a community site. So you can spare me your lectures and name-calling, because I have most certainly "done my part" to advancing the newbie community.

Besides, I did provide the basic instructions right there in my post. No, they aren't a step-by-step process, but it's a starting point. Anyone who is semi-familiar with APT can figure out how to apt-cache kernel source. And from there, it's relatively easy to figure out. This totally ignores the fact that the Debian kernel image debs are suitable for the vast majority of cases. The only cases I can see where you might need to use a different kernel (and the Deb kernels are more modularized than what most people produce thanks to the initrd part, so "slimming it down" isn't an excuse) is if you have hardware that isn't supported by the current kernel debs, and the kernel modules require a patch to the kernel instead of just a binary installation.

So, in short, Iconoclast, call me part of the problem all you want but I sleep soundly at night knowing that I've definitely done my part whereas you seem to get your jollies by crying foul at those who provide criticism.

re. good debian kernel tut on linuxorbit
by johnG on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 14:47 UTC

anon wrote:
> there's a good debian specific kernel howto on
> linuxorbit.com

Thanks! Didn't know about that site. Found a number of howto's and mini-howto's, as well as a pile of "quick tips".

RE Samb
by Iconoclast on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 15:16 UTC

[i]I didn't notice anything Debian specific in that article. Debian users should use make-kpkg. Makes it so much easier. [i]

It's there. Read the whole article.

RE Senior D
by Iconoclast on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 15:19 UTC

Iconoclast: have you ever considered the occasions where people are told to RTFM, because *gasp* the questions they are asking are in the manual or man pages?

I have, but there are times when someone says RTMF, and the information is NOT in the manual, or is very difficult to understand. Also, as I mentioned earlier, there are times when the manual does not help new users feel secure in their own abilities to accomplish certain tasks. This article helps people in that way.

I'm not bashing the people that write manuals. They are fine for their target audience. However, Linux's target audience is beginning to expand into the casual user arena. The documentation should too.

RE Fuzzyping (I think)
by Iconoclast on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 15:30 UTC

As someone who has put forth a lot of effort in documenting process such as getting your CD burner working, building a kernel, and creating your own LAMP project (besides numerous other papers and howto's), I take great offense to this comment.

I'm sorry that you felt I was referring to you personally. I wasn't. I was talking about a certain stereotype. If you don't fit that description, then I wasn't talking about you.

It's not that all advanced users are adverse to helping newbies... it's that most topics (especially building a kernel) have been documented extensively online already. I find that most beginners are just too lazy (yes, lazy!) to research this information at all.

You are correct to some degree I believe and I agree with you (this is exactly why I personally don't actively look for people to help with Linux). However, as I mentioned above, often times new users just need to have a little handholding and compassion shown towards them. They are willing to venture out into the unknown when they feel somebody is there to back them up. Somebody they feel who cares that they have success. I think Clinton has done a lot towards this end in his article.

Just as you shouldn't stereotype about all advanced users, I shouldn't cast all beginners into this role. Fact is, I had to start somewhere as well... it was at a local Linux User's Group. The folks there were very helpful, and I go back routinely to give talks on a variety of topics.

I don't stereotype all advanced users in this category. I am an advanced user, and if somebody asks me to help them, I will (I just don't go looking for those opportunities and usually I just end up doing the work for them while they watch); however, we have all run into the stereotype I was talking about. It is common enough that a lot of new users hate Linux experts. Is this not true?

Again, it's not that "we" are being terse... but we appreciate when folks show some manner of effort.

I appreciate the same thing, and think it is necessary. However, I also appreciate that things that seem trivial to me now, were not trivial to me six or seven years ago. Often times, Linux documents are written to those with experience. I think beginner docs are very important. I haven't read your documentation, so I'm not commenting on it, so don't take offense.

Particularly since we aren't getting paid for any of our services. It seems like the only time most newbies are even aware of our work is when they might get promoted on a site like this. Heaven forbid they use Google to find the information they require.

Perhaps they don't know what to search for. Anyway, I'm glad that Clinton wrote this article and that OSNews is open enough to this type of documentation to post it.

RE Strike
by Iconoclast on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 15:39 UTC

Besides, I did provide the basic instructions right there in my post. No, they aren't a step-by-step process, but it's a starting point. Anyone who is semi-familiar with APT can figure out how to apt-cache kernel source.

That was my point actually. This article is specifically geared towards new users; ones that probably don't know anything about apt. Therefore, for this article's target audience, your post is cryptic and probably not very useful.

It appears that this article is very detailed on purpose, I would imagine, and very geared towards new users. Perhaps the author thought a more generic approach was the best way to write the article. If you feel differently, perhaps you could write an equally detailed article on the method you feel is best so people can have a choice of well documented methods instead of complaining because this guy didn't write exactly what you think he ought to have.

Again, I think the article serves its purpose well.

Serves its purpose
by Strike on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 15:47 UTC

Sure it gets the job done, but a generic kernel compile article would get the job done as well. There's nothing wrong with doing make dep bzImage modules modules_install in Debian for kernel installs. My whole point (which you seem to have missed) is that if you are going to gear an article to a specific distribution, go all the way. Herbert Xu goes to a lot of trouble to package up the kernel sources so people can apt-get them and be happy - no reason not to use them, especially when they are geared towards Debian.

This is not a debian kernel
by Rapiere on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 16:21 UTC

Interesting Title however the content is not the "Debian way" unfortunately and will give wrong advices to newbies.

I don't think you can have initrd image from a vanilla kernel as debian kernel sources have a special patch for cramfs.

Herbert Xu takes great care to package kernel-sources with security patch from development versions. The safest is to use them, unless you're a developper yourself.

Very helpful
by David Bruce on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 17:07 UTC

I was glad to see the author telling people to use make-kpkg to build the kernel, another of the many helpful advantages of Debian over many other distributions. I wonder why he told people to go to www.kernel.org for the source instead of just using apt:

#apt-get install kernel-source-2.4.20

Anyway, an excellent walkthrough. Also, the part on using SCSI emulation to get IDE cd recorders to work was great - I don't have any problems building new kernels, but I hadn't yet figured out why my new cd recorder plays but doesn't record under Linux. Thanks.

Re: fuzzyping
by Jim Walton on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 17:08 UTC

That's smart : you post under the nickname fuzzyping and you think that's not anonymous ?

Not debian specific ?
by Mark on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 17:18 UTC

At which point in the article did you guys hit snooze and went back to sleep ? This text shows how to install a new kernel in Debian : )

Re: fuzzyping
by DeadFishMan on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 17:39 UTC

Its nice to see that not all Linux users are terse and selfish with their knowledge.

As someone who has put forth a lot of effort in documenting process such as getting your CD burner working, building a kernel, and creating your own LAMP project (besides numerous other papers and howto's), I take great offense to this comment. It's not that all advanced users are adverse to helping newbies... it's that most topics (especially building a kernel) have been documented extensively online already. I find that most beginners are just too lazy (yes, lazy!) to research this information at all.

Just as you shouldn't stereotype about all advanced users, I shouldn't cast all beginners into this role. Fact is, I had to start somewhere as well... it was at a local Linux User's Group. The folks there were very helpful, and I go back routinely to give talks on a variety of topics.

Again, it's not that "we" are being terse... but we appreciate when folks show some manner of effort. Particularly since we aren't getting paid for any of our services. It seems like the only time most newbies are even aware of our work is when they might get promoted on a site like this. Heaven forbid they use Google to find the information they require.

-fp


Took the worlds from my mouth. Most people don't realize that almost everybody here had only Windows background and even so managed to use Linux properly an understand it. But if you tell someone to read the damn docs... Oh, my God! What horrible person you are...

RTFM
by blah on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 18:09 UTC

if you have a linux question and have no idea where the hell the manual is that are you are asked to read, post your question at linuxquestions.org . The site is geared towards newbies.

When posting a question on a forum, THE FIRST THING YOU SHOULD DO is use the "SEARCH" command and type your question in there. It may have already been asked and answered, it will SAVE YOU TIME.

thanks,

ds

Re: Iconoclast
by Luigi on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 19:23 UTC

" Strike, I think your post is indicatave of the problem new users to Linux, or Debian in this case, have. People who are familiar with any given process are all too happy to teach new users how to do whatever it is in an extremely terse and impossible to understand format. Then they get mad when the new user has questions and tell him/her to go RTFM. A pseudo-polite way of saying use Windows you pathetic imbicile."

Hear! Hear! You've hit the nail right on the head.

People like Strike and the rest of them, although they deny being what they are, are mostly advanced users who relish humilliating newbies and directing them to RTFM, which IMO, and for the most part, is badly written and lack clear and precise instructions for newcomers; to them, we are drooling morons, I guess "priests seldom remember when they were altar boys".

As for Clinton De Young, he's done it again, kudos to him.

You the Man, dog!

Luigi
by Strike on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 20:52 UTC

Hooray for passing judgement on someone who you don't know! The world needs much more of that!


People like Strike and the rest of them, although they deny being what they are, are mostly advanced users who relish humilliating newbies and directing them to RTFM, which IMO, and for the most part, is badly written and lack clear and precise instructions for newcomers; to them, we are drooling morons, I guess "priests seldom remember when they were altar boys".


Gee, is that why I more or less single-handedly supported a community forum for over 10,000 NEWBIE Linux users for the span of several years?

Besides, none of you are addressing the main point at all. The point is that generic kernel compile tutorials exist all over the place. If you are going to make one specifically tailored for a distribution, you should use all the resources that were designed specifically for building kernels in that distribution. In this case, that includes things like the kernel source packages, and this tutorial (which isn't a bad one by any means) leaves those out where it would be better served including them.

@strike
by dannyW on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 21:57 UTC

Considering you can install the kernel source via apt, and basically just untar, copy a config files, run make oldconfig, and then run the make-kpkg stuff ... this tutorial is more like a generic kernel install than it needs to be. Plus the kernel sources gotten via apt have been patched for cramfs support so you can use the nice initrd option that is standard in debian kernels, which you don't get from vanilla sources.

OK, I'm an experienced Windows user (6 years) who has built his own PCs and installed the MS OSes many times. However, I'm a complete noob when it comes to linux, but I'm planning on becomeing a linux user - and therefore perhaps can offer a perspective. OK - FWIW:

Strike's paragraph above means jack sh|t to me. Sorry buddy, but the article was way, way, way, more helpful to a noob than your snobby little text that basically may as well have been written in greek. Now, you can go ahead and call me names, MS drone and whatever other snobby little junk you can come up with, but it is funny for you to think that somehow YOUR text is superior to the one you are criticizing - as a noob, I can tell you it absolutely is not... and I'm not computer-illiterate.

Basically, it comes across as if your beef is that the author addressed complete noobs in too simple a language, and so somehow tread on your sacred ground, and you advocate making things harder for the "uworthy masses". Thanks, but no thanks.

Anyhow, I do not intend to throw myself out there with a bunch of questions. My first course of action will be to get a primer text on Linux and read it, then use google to read some more, and then try working it out on my own. Only if I absolutely cannot find out stuff on my own would I turn to a forum. And when I do, I'll try hard to completely ignore the RTFM types such as you.

One piece of advice - if for some reason you think the question is stupid (rightly or wrongly), and you don't feel like answering PLEASE SHUT YOUR MOUTH and resist the impulse to say "RTFM" (to which I'd answer GFY). Tellings someone RTFM is plain rude and most importantly UNHELPFUL. If you can't say anything helpful, don't say anything at all, certainly silence is prefereable to "RTFM".

As far as Debian goes......
by it_should_be_possible on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 22:13 UTC

....make-kpkg is the bomb diggity, on the same level as apt, IMHO.

Re: danny W
by Strike on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 22:43 UTC

I did not submit my comment as the intended REPLACEMENT to this article, now did I? I know how to write tutorials as I've been writing them for years, many of which have been extremely popular and well-received.

Would you morons please learn the difference between what is criticism of an article and what is an article itself? I'm not going to defend my perfectly sound position any more, the number of people who have supported it as well is proof enough that my points stand to reason on their own in spite of my arguments.

@strike
by dannyW on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 23:24 UTC

Sure, there are those who support you and maybe even not all of them are linuxistas with similar attitudes, but that's not the point - there are also those who did NOT support you. If you are going to go the popularity route, that's no measure of truth - there are those who are universally liked, and those who are not, and the burden is on the other side... if even 3 out of a hundred women you date cry "rape", it puts a blemish on YOU, never mind the other 97 who said "never did it to me". But this is silly, arguing over such things.

More to the point is your attitude. You like calling people "morons" - well, mister know-it-all linux guru, it is attitudes like those that people don't like - even if some other linuxfascists support you. Why do you call people morons?

And on point of merit, about how your comment was not meant to replace the article, well, that was not the point - it was that your text was obscure to a noobie, and you claimed it was NOT, that in fact YOUR way of describing was just fine and dandy:

Besides, I did provide the basic instructions right there in my post. No, they aren't a step-by-step process, but it's a starting point. Anyone who is semi-familiar with APT can figure out how to apt-cache kernel source. And from there, it's relatively easy to figure out.

Sorry, but my point (and other's said the same) stands - your text was obscure, and since many noobs are not familiar with APT it is not OK to say "and from there it is relatively easy to figure out". Ridiculous. You say it is not step by step, but hey, that's what a noob often needs, so your bagging the article is pointless in the context of your far inferior text (from the noob understanding perspective). So you are wrong there - what was the point of your saying that you are giving instructions that are not step by step if it was meant for noobies? Seems irrelevant, or don't you understand the concept of "noob" - so who is the moron here? So go ahead and call people morons, but the funny thing is, you are still wrong.

Why don't you roll up your attitude and stuff it deep. I repeat, if you cannot say anything nice or helpful, why say anything at all? Just so you can act superior? Just so you can insult people by calling them morons? Silence is golden here - nobody benefits by your snobbism or insults - thanks, but no thanks. Oh, I know you'll never appologize for saying "morons" - just goes to show what you are made of... wonderful.

start from the /boot/config file
by Inigo Montoya on Mon 3rd Mar 2003 23:32 UTC

First of all respect to Mr. De Young for his work (though your a day late, because i compiled my kernel yesterday. would have spared me the Reading Of Fine Manuals ;) ) !
People who are in need of compileing a kernel on a debian based system allready installed a, at least to some degree, working kernel, the Woody kernel (remark). As far as i see its config file is placed in /boot (for exapmle in my case config-2.4.18-bf2.4). Why not start from this config file, use it as "guide". Are the differences between 2.2 and 2.4 based kernel-configs too big, to load it to menuconfig directly an customize?

Strike
by Anonymous on Tue 4th Mar 2003 02:10 UTC

All I have to say is that Strike is one of the people who helped me the most when I first started using linux. I used to post on linuxnewbie.org and he was probably the one who answered most of my questions and helped the most (not to mention he was probably the nicest one there, never once told me to RTFM). I think you are all being unfair to Strike, he never once said anything about reading TFM or that newbies suck. ALL he said was that the article could have included more about how easy Debian makes updating the kernel, namely using apt to install the source instead of downloading it yourself from kernel.org. Of course a newbie isn't going to understand what he wrote because HE DID NOT mean to sound elitist nor mean to replace the article. Are you all so big headed that you can't see he was merely showing a way the article could be improved. This was indeed a great article (excellent in fact), but it is obviously easier to use apt to install the kernel source than download it yourself. If we are trying to help newbies like me, wouldn't it make sense to include that in a tutorial such as this?

Anyway, you all need to lighten up and not misquote Strike. Realize that all he was saying was that Debian offered more ways to make installing kernels easier than the article suggested. He wasn't criticizing it, he wasn't trying to replace it and sound "l337". Get over yourselves.

Thanks once again for all your help on linuxnewbie.org Strike ;)

dannyW
by Anonymous on Tue 4th Mar 2003 02:17 UTC

Same Anonymouse as above ^^

Strike wasn't calling newbies morons, he was calling the people who can't realize what his first post was actually about morons. YOU are a moron for not realizing that his "obscure text" was NOT meant as a replacement for the tutorial. Of course it isn't going to make sense to newbies, I'm sure he knows that very well and I'm sure he could write a step by step tutorial about it if he wanted to. YOU are a moron for trying to make him seem like a bad guy without knowing anything about him. YOU are a moron for trying to make him sound like an elitist linuxfascist as you said.

One more
by Anonymous on Tue 4th Mar 2003 02:21 UTC

'Basically, it comes across as if your beef is that the author addressed complete noobs in too simple a language, and so somehow tread on your sacred ground, and you advocate making things harder for the "uworthy masses". Thanks, but no thanks.'

Sorry but this just really annoys me. His beef (if it was even that) was that more could have been included about making kernel updating EASIER under Debian through apt. Notice the word EASIER, yes despite what you might want others to believe, Strike wanted to make the tutorial EASIER for newbies.

I apologize for this wasted space but personal attacks such as this are just ridiculous (especially when those who make them have no idea what they are saying)

RE Everybody
by Iconoclast on Tue 4th Mar 2003 04:41 UTC

Hey guys, we can sit here and debate why the author chose to highlight the subject the way he did and call each other names, but why not just wait until tomorrow and ask him directly? I work with the author and would have asked him directly for you all, but he wasn't at work today.

I don't know his reasoning, but there are a thousand different ways to obtain, configure and compile a kernel. Perhaps he just didn't want to write a book here. Who knows? We all will tomorrow if we ask him. Can we all agree not to kill each other until then?



Clinton's articles.
by Catonic on Tue 4th Mar 2003 04:44 UTC

As someone who is relatively new to linux i found this article and Clinton's previous one on installing debian very helpful and useful.
After using lycoris for awhile i decided to have a go at debian, mainly because of the good things users said about apt-get and issues i had with rpms, make install, etc.
Because of warnings about potential problems with installing debian i closely read both the official (and substantial) manual on installing debian from their web site and Clinton's article on this site.
Personally, i found Clinton's article easier to understand and follow and i used it as a guide when i installed the official (and paid for!) Woody CD of debian.
After a few attempts everything was working as i wanted.
So, IMHO what Clinton is trying to do in such articles as this is very useful and helpful for me, and presumably other noobs.
Good on ya, Clinton.


Thanks Clinton!
by David on Tue 4th Mar 2003 05:31 UTC

The first installation walkthrough was a dream for me, I had installed Debian before, but I didn't think much of the defaults that I had to start with. Clinton's walkthrough gave me an *OS* rather than a bloated piece of trash.

I will definately try out this latest tutorial too, but the one comment I would have to make is:
How come a discussion about a kernel install for Debian can erupt into a flamewar? Only in a Linux forum?

'scuse me for stirring

The Real Debian Kernel Guide
by Redspy on Tue 4th Mar 2003 06:05 UTC

Although this was a good article I prefer the real Debianized kernel compilation guide on SourceForge - http://newbiedoc.sourceforge.net/system/kernel-pkg.html

I can't believe you people
by Incognito on Tue 4th Mar 2003 06:44 UTC

Somebody take sthe time to write a helpful article for newbies and all you guys do is argue about it! Cmon guys grow up. Just to clue you long time linux guys in here but configuring linux is a VERY daunting task for most windows users who are not used to having to do anything more difficult than click on a checkbox. Most man pages seem to be written with the experienced user in mind and will mean nothing to many newbies. People do need some handholding for a while until they get there feet wet. Yeah some people are just plain lazy. If you can't or don't want to explain it to them just say that it's too much to post and advise them of newbie friendly help site and maybe give them a hint what to google for

Debian plus newbies is true?
by Jon Haugsand on Tue 4th Mar 2003 11:03 UTC

Good one Clinton, but I admit I was quite amazed that there are needs for beginners stuff for Debian users. Without being an expert by any means, I have used Linux since 1992 (starting with Slackware, via RedHat and SuSE) compiled a dozen kernels, and I now try to invoke courage to use Debian. For, as a matter of fact, most people warn me against Debian because it is a nightmare to install, they tell me.

So if you gave me anything, it is that if newbies can use Debian, so can I...

Thanks.

Good Job, Clinton!
by Kevin on Tue 4th Mar 2003 14:18 UTC

Clinton's article is excellent. I read it with some interest, as I"m making a presentation on building kernels at my LUG meeting in a couple of days.

A few observations:

1. I too was curious about why the author didn't advise downloading the kernel source from Debian archives. Perhaps it's because the 2.4.20 source package isn't in the stable repository.
It is however in testing, and the procedure for getting it is relatively simple:
a) Tell apt to get package lists from testing. Open /etc/apt/sources.list with your favorite text editor. In the first line change the word "stable" to "testing". Comment out the other lines by inserting "#" for the first character (this saves time downloading package lists you won't be using after this anyway).
b) Do "apt-get update".
c) Do "apt-get install kernel-source-2.4.20".
d) Edit sources.list again. This time uncomment all the lines, and change "testing" back to "stable" in the first line.
e) Do "apt-get update" again.

2. Debian kernel sources are compressed with bzip2, but tar can handle these using -j for bzip2 instead of using z for gzip, as follows:
tar jxvf kernel-source-2.4.20
In any event, you can simply "apt-get install bzip2" along with the other packages Clinton lists.

3. At the kernel.org site, the hyperlink to "2.4.20" is indeed a patch, but to the right of it the "F" is a link to the Full kernel source. The links further right are interesting, as they show how many changes to each file in the source tree are applied by the patch. (In other words, where and how many changes took place since the last stable kernel).

4. I always check "Prompt for development and/or incomplete" in the kernel configuration. There are many items in this category that are really quite stable and have been for some time, but for some reason they're still classified as "incomplete/development". A good example is VESA framebuffer console support. (There are others, I just can't think of them now.) There are plenty of "Don't check this unless you really know what you're doing" warnings to scare newbies away from the stuff that really belongs in this category. And anyway, isn't the entire kernel still incomplete and under development?

5. It is not necessary to answer "Y" to "Sound support" to enable sound; "M" works just fine. I also use a module to support my sound card.

6. Kernel-package is da bomb. Use it once and you'll never go back to make... make... make...

7. When invoking make-kpkg, using the "--append-to-version" option allows you to have more than one 2.4.20 kernel without them stepping all over each other. I use this instead of "--revision", as follows:
"make-kpkg --append-to-version=.20030304 kernel_image"
Note the dot beginning the revision. I use the date as my argument; this way each kernel is identified by the date I compiled it. Each 2.4.20 kernel will have a different name in /boot, and its modules will be installed in a separate subdirectory of /lib/modules.

8. The grub boot loader is da bomb. Check out the Linux Journal's web archive for "Boot With Grub". Then install it. Run "update-grub" to generate a boot menu.

9. After you've installed grub, add the following lines to /etc/kernel-img.conf:
postinst_hook=/sbin/update-grub
postrm_hook=/sbin/update-grub
Now whenever you add or remove a kernel package your boot loader's menu is automatically updated. No more editing /etc/lilo.conf, and no more needing to remember to run /sbin/lilo every time you make a new kernel. (A sample kernel-img.conf file is in the documentation, under /usr/share/doc/kernel-package.)

10. To enable your CD-ROM burner, you don't need to enable SCSI disk support (in fact, the help for this option explains what it's for). And all of the SCSI stuff can be modules, including "SCSI Support" itself.

11. In the what if something goes wrong section, if you've installed a kernel image .deb and the kernel doesn't boot, you need to remove the .deb using dpkg:
"dpkg -P kernel-image-2.4.20.20030304"
This will remove the kernel, its System.map, and its config file in /boot, and it's module tree under /lib/modules. It will also let the package system know the files aren't there anymore; if you just delete these the package system won't know about it.

If you followed my suggestion to use grub, deleting the kernel image deb will also update the boot loader menu.

Once you've purged the kernel package you can delete the .deb file in /usr/src.

If you use the "--append-to-version" argument you don't need to worry about how may kernels you have of the same version. They will all have different names and won't conflict.

That's all I can think of now. Please understand that despite my lengthy comment I thought Clinton's article was *excellent*. If I'd had this kind of tutorial available when I started using Debian I'd have more hair now.

Kevin

Wow!
by Clinton De Young on Tue 4th Mar 2003 16:46 UTC

I intended to help new Linux (and specifically Debian) users with this article. Not start a holy war. Sheesh.

Well, to answer a few questions and make a couple of statements here:

First of all, there are several reasons that I chose NOT to use the kernel source off of the Debian servers, but rather download a generic kernel off of http://www.kernel.org . The first reason is that the topic has already been covered (as some have mentioned), whereas the method I used has not (well at least not much, there was a very good article about it in Linux Journal last year which chose the same route I did, only it was specific to a certain model of Dell laptop). I feel that choice is a good thing, so I chose to cover the topic from a different angle than most. There are some benefits to using a kernel from the Debian servers, but in reality, new users probably don't care about those things right now. They just want their sound and CD-Rs to work. There are also some benefits to using a generic kernel. I will leave those choices up to new users.

Secondly, the kernel source on the Debian stable servers does not include the latest 2.4.20 kernel (at least it didn't last time I looked). I had many requests after my previous article to show people how to install the latest kernel or development kernels; which are also not available on the Debian stable servers. I am not willing to instruct new users to go to unstable or testing to aquire these things. I figure they can venture into those branches as soon as they are ready (in my mind, knowing what those branches are and that they exist is the first step in determining readyness. I don't want people doing it just because I say so, I want them to do it when they know how to do it and why they want to).

I did not mention my intentions because I felt it would confuse new users(which is after all who this is written for). In fact, I feel that many of the comments regarding my article are confusing and incapacitating to new users. There are many ways to install a new kernel. Why muddy the waters for a new user by bombarding them with information describing all these various ways? How then would a new users choose the best way for them? In my opinion, it is best to teach one way clearly and concisely, and as thoroughly as possible, and then let new users choose for themselves the methods they will use as they aquire new knowledge and experience.

Another reason that I did not use a Debian kernel is that I wanted the article to be useful to users who wanted to try and compile a kernel on a non-Debian machine. Sure, the make kpkg stuff is Debian specific, but Eugenia has written a very good, although short, description of the generic way of installing the kernel on any Linux system. I felt that between the two articles, everybody would be benefited.

The truth of the matter is that anyone who can read and is not mentally impared, can install and make good use of Linux (or any other OS for that matter). More than information, what new users need is to feel that something is possible. Once they accomplish something for themselves, through good instruction or otherwise, they will have the confidence to explore new methods and such. The key is for them to feel that they can do it the first time.

There are many "tutorials" that say do this and do that, but if a new user types a command wrong, or accidentally skips a section, then they fail in their first attempt, and many are unwilling to try again. That is why I try to describe the scenery, so to speak, as we go along. I want people to be able to look around and say, "yep, that's exacly where I'm at so things must be going well". I want them to have that confidence in themselves and in their guide; my article in this case. That is why I write the way I do.

There are many tutorials and books, such as <product name> for Dummies, or <product name> for Complete Idiots, but I find them insulting to new user's intelligence before they ever open the book. This same insulting attitude is commonplace in Linux forums as well.

I feel that new users are intelligent human beings who just need to be shown what to do; and not be insulted in the process. That is why I use the phrase "very verbose". It indicates that the information will be extremely plentiful, which is something I think benefits new users. I also don't feel the phrase is insulting in any way.

One last comment while I'm thinking about it. Somebody was upset because I had new users go through the entire kernel instead of opening the config file for the current kernel. My response is that opening an existing config file teaches new users how to open a file (something that most of them are probably good at already). Since my intent was to teach them how to configure the kernel, I instructed them to read each help screen as they go through the entire kernel. What better way to learn a topic than to actually do it?

Anyway, if you all have more questions or complaints, feel free to ask. I will respond to them.

RE Wow!
by Clinton De Young on Tue 4th Mar 2003 17:04 UTC

Well, I wrote explaining why I chose to do things the way I did, but they never showed up here. If they don't appear later today, I will rewrite it in order to put and end to the holy war.

Dec 2001 LJ article
by Anonymous on Tue 4th Mar 2003 23:28 UTC

http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=5656
http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=5676

Should've at least referenced this LJ article from Dec 2001.

RE Anonymous
by Clinton De Young on Tue 4th Mar 2003 23:52 UTC

I would have, but I couldn't find it. I read it in the print version anyway I believe, but it's been too long ago.

Thanks for the links.

How to get latest kernel.
by nictuku on Wed 5th Mar 2003 08:14 UTC

Just a suggestion.

Instead of all those line dedicated on "how to get the latest kernel", the author should indicate ppl to click on the "F" by the side of the wanted kernel version. F for FULL source.

RE Nictuku
by Iconoclast on Thu 6th Mar 2003 06:45 UTC

I originally did, but when I had somebody go through my article before posting it, they had a hard time finding the 'f'. Since this is for new users, I changed the article in order to avoid confusion.

fakeroot?
by kokot on Thu 6th Mar 2003 18:07 UTC

A nice description. I've a question. Why, are you compile a kernel under root and why you don't use the fakeroot envearonment? The kernel-source package has a long term REAME with description of its.

RE Fakeroot?
by Clinton De Young on Thu 6th Mar 2003 18:13 UTC

Because, I didn't want to I guess. I feel that adding descriptions of such things takes longer to explain, and I also think it clouds the true intention of the document. I don't mind writing a document to thoroughly explain fakeroot and how to use it though.

Iconoclast
by Clinton De Young on Thu 6th Mar 2003 18:19 UTC

I just noticed that I posted a comment under Iconoclast name last night. That is not me. As many of you know, I work with Iconoclast and Camel at Altiris (I feel stupid calling them that, but they would rather remain anonymous, and I can respect that).

Last night my wife and I were invited to Iconoclast's home to watch American Idol. I don't normally watch TV, but I find that an interesting show. Anyway, he pointed out some comments that were directed at me, and I answered one from his machine. Sorry, I forgot to change the "Your Name" section.

I mention this since Iconoclast is a bit rough around the edges, and I don't want to receive hate mail for the things he sometimes says. ;)

Anyway, I hope new users found the article useful. Once you are all comfortable with the things I wrote, expand out and try some of the other suggestions. They work too.

Excellent instructions for a newbie
by Charlie on Sun 9th Mar 2003 04:46 UTC

Mr De Young,

I just wanted to let you know how helpful instructions are. I have also read and in the process of installing Debian 3.0. I have read "The very verbose Debian 3.0 installation walkthrough" and setting up a dedicated box for it. Your instructions are quite helpful especially for a newbie like myself. Also this new article you wrote, "Very verbose guide to updating and compiling your Debian kernel" is quite helpful. Please continue writing "How To" articles. Thank you!

One thing ...
by Tim Kelley on Mon 10th Mar 2003 12:31 UTC

I think it would be useful to add a warning about debian's default lilo.config, which does not prompt for which kernel to boot, which will have you cursing and swearing badly if your new kernel for some reason does not boot and you must go to a rescue disk. Just un-comment out the "prompt" statement and all will be OK.

Nice article.

"basically just untar, copy a config files, run make oldconfig, and then run the make kpkg stuff..." The above states the problem new users face with Linux veterans. They use the jargon; it comes easily off their tongues. They add words like "just" and "basically" to make you think you're a simpleton to not know what they're talking about. RTFM might be an adequate answer if the FM's were written in clear standard English. Sadly, they're not. Therefore, thanks to Clinton, to Iconoclast (for clarifying our position), and to Strike for providing us with a bad example of Linux tech support.
Bob

Stock kernel
by Kai on Wed 12th Mar 2003 07:11 UTC

I have been using Debian for quite some time, and I wouldn't dare compile my own kernel right now. It is too hard.

Use the STOCK KERNEL (e.g. kernel-image-2.4.20-k7 - Linux kernel image for version 2.4.20 on AMD K7) packages, and modconf the bits and pieces in or out.

This is a good howto, however the wrong approach imo for newbies and probably Debian users alike.

Thanks
by Richard on Wed 12th Mar 2003 14:14 UTC

Thanks for a great article. I have been using linux for quite a while, and debian for a couple of months - but I've never compiled a kernel before.
Hopefully this will help me when I go home and try it tonight.