Linux Kernel in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference

When Greg K-H announced his new book I was intrigued that he was distributing a downloadable copy for free. Even impressed that O’Reilly was allowing it to happen. The book offers benefits for both the “Kernel god” hacker and the greenest “What is a kernel?” newcomer. For the advanced user, parts two and three contain the config recipes and kernel reference. Both of which offer fast reminders on performing certain tasks without digging through the complete kernel docs looking for the one detail needed. No one should complain that the book is too light-weight for advanced users because the book’s purpose was never to copy the kernel documentation word for word. Part One would be a greate help to anyone new to compiling their own custom kernel. Part one explains the neccessary components as well as the locations where they can be downloaded. The rest of part one describes the configure, build, install, boot, upgrade, and repeat cycle.

For Gentoo users in particular, LKN offers a way to break using Genkernel as a crutch. When I switched to using Gentoo I didn’t know anything about compiling my own kernel. So in that way it allows new users to create working kernels even if it compiles every module known to man and beast. If genkernel all were level zero “OMG IM A N00B” then genkernel --menuconfig all would be “intermediate skills but still rides with training wheels on”. A tip to use while using the standard make commands is to make defconfig before “menuconfig”. Defconfig creates a sane config with default options chosen by the maintainer of that architecture. Beware though that the file still needs to be customized since there is a lot of hardware not enabled.