Linux kernel release 2.6.xx
These are the release notes for Linux version 2.6. Read them carefully,
as they tell you what this is all about, explain how to install the
kernel, and what to do if something goes wrong.
WHAT IS LINUX?
Linux is a Unix clone written from scratch by Linus Torvalds with
assistance from a loosely-knit team of hackers across the Net.
It aims towards POSIX compliance.
It has all the features you would expect in a modern fully-fledged
Unix, including true multitasking, virtual memory, shared libraries,
demand loading, shared copy-on-write executables, proper memory
management and TCP/IP networking.
It is distributed under the GNU General Public License - see the
accompanying COPYING file for more details.
ON WHAT HARDWARE DOES IT RUN?
Linux was first developed for 386/486-based PCs. These days it also
runs on ARMs, DEC Alphas, SUN Sparcs, M68000 machines (like Atari and
Amiga), MIPS and PowerPC, and others.
- There is a lot of documentation available both in electronic form on
the Internet and in books, both Linux-specific and pertaining to
general UNIX questions. I'd recommend looking into the documentation
subdirectories on any Linux FTP site for the LDP (Linux Documentation
Project) books. This README is not meant to be documentation on the
system: there are much better sources available.
- There are various README files in the Documentation/ subdirectory:
these typically contain kernel-specific installation notes for some
drivers for example. See Documentation/00-INDEX for a list of what
is contained in each file. Please read the Changes file, as it
contains information about the problems, which may result by upgrading
- The Documentation/DocBook/ subdirectory contains several guides for
kernel developers and users. These guides can be rendered in a
number of formats: PostScript (.ps), PDF, and HTML, among others.
After installation, "make psdocs", "make pdfdocs", or "make htmldocs"
will render the documentation in the requested format.
INSTALLING the kernel:
- If you install the full sources, put the kernel tarball in a
directory where you have permissions (eg. your home directory) and
gzip -cd linux-2.6.XX.tar.gz | tar xvf -
bzip2 -dc linux-2.6.XX.tar.bz2 | tar xvf -
Replace "XX" with the version number of the latest kernel.
Do NOT use the /usr/src/linux area! This area has a (usually
incomplete) set of kernel headers that are used by the library header
files. They should match the library, and not get messed up by
whatever the kernel-du-jour happens to be.
- You can also upgrade between 2.6.xx releases by patching. Patches are
distributed in the traditional gzip and the new bzip2 format. To
install by patching, get all the newer patch files, enter the
top level directory of the kernel source (linux-2.6.xx) and execute:
gzip -cd ../patch-2.6.xx.gz | patch -p1
bzip2 -dc ../patch-2.6.xx.bz2 | patch -p1
(repeat xx for all versions bigger than the version of your current
source tree, _in_order_) and you should be ok. You may want to remove
the backup files (xxx~ or xxx.orig), and make sure that there are no
failed patches (xxx# or xxx.rej). If there are, either you or me has
made a mistake.
Alternatively, the script patch-kernel can be used to automate this
process. It determines the current kernel version and applies any
The first argument in the command above is the location of the
kernel source. Patches are applied from the current directory, but
an alternative directory can be specified as the second argument.
- If you are upgrading between releases using the stable series patches
(for example, patch-2.6.xx.y), note that these "dot-releases" are
not incremental and must be applied to the 2.6.xx base tree. For
example, if your base kernel is 2.6.12 and you want to apply the
188.8.131.52 patch, you do not and indeed must not first apply the
184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11 patches. Similarly, if you are running kernel
version 18.104.22.168 and want to jump to 22.214.171.124, you must first
reverse the 126.96.36.199 patch (that is, patch -R) _before_ applying
the 188.8.131.52 patch.
- Make sure you have no stale .o files and dependencies lying around:
You should now have the sources correctly installed.
Compiling and running the 2.6.xx kernels requires up-to-date
versions of various software packages. Consult
Documentation/Changes for the minimum version numbers required
and how to get updates for these packages. Beware that using
excessively old versions of these packages can cause indirect
errors that are very difficult to track down, so don't assume that
you can just update packages when obvious problems arise during
build or operation.
BUILD directory for the kernel:
When compiling the kernel all output files will per default be
stored together with the kernel source code.
Using the option "make O=output/dir" allow you to specify an alternate
place for the output files (including .config).
kernel source code: /usr/src/linux-2.6.N
build directory: /home/name/build/kernel
To configure and build the kernel use:
make O=/home/name/build/kernel menuconfig
sudo make O=/home/name/build/kernel modules_install install
Please note: If the 'O=output/dir' option is used then it must be
used for all invocations of make.
CONFIGURING the kernel:
Do not skip this step even if you are only upgrading one minor
version. New configuration options are added in each release, and
odd problems will turn up if the configuration files are not set up
as expected. If you want to carry your existing configuration to a
new version with minimal work, use "make oldconfig", which will
only ask you for the answers to new questions.
- Alternate configuration commands are:
"make menuconfig" Text based color menus, radiolists & dialogs.
"make xconfig" X windows (Qt) based configuration tool.
"make gconfig" X windows (Gtk) based configuration tool.
"make oldconfig" Default all questions based on the contents of
your existing ./.config file.
Like above, but avoids cluttering the screen
with questions already answered.
NOTES on "make config":
- having unnecessary drivers will make the kernel bigger, and can
under some circumstances lead to problems: probing for a
nonexistent controller card may confuse your other controllers
- compiling the kernel with "Processor type" set higher than 386
will result in a kernel that does NOT work on a 386. The
kernel will detect this on bootup, and give up.
- A kernel with math-emulation compiled in will still use the
coprocessor if one is present: the math emulation will just
never get used in that case. The kernel will be slightly larger,
but will work on different machines regardless of whether they
have a math coprocessor or not.
- the "kernel hacking" configuration details usually result in a
bigger or slower kernel (or both), and can even make the kernel
less stable by configuring some routines to actively try to
break bad code to find kernel problems (kmalloc()). Thus you
should probably answer 'n' to the questions for
"development", "experimental", or "debugging" features.
COMPILING the kernel:
- Make sure you have gcc 2.95.3 available.
gcc 2.91.66 (egcs-1.1.2), and gcc 184.108.40.206 are known to miscompile
some parts of the kernel, and are *no longer supported*.
Also remember to upgrade your binutils package (for as/ld/nm and company)
if necessary. For more information, refer to Documentation/Changes.
Please note that you can still run a.out user programs with this kernel.
- Do a "make" to create a compressed kernel image. It is also
possible to do "make install" if you have lilo installed to suit the
kernel makefiles, but you may want to check your particular lilo setup first.
To do the actual install you have to be root, but none of the normal
build should require that. Don't take the name of root in vain.
- If you configured any of the parts of the kernel as `modules', you
will also have to do "make modules_install".
- Keep a backup kernel handy in case something goes wrong. This is
especially true for the development releases, since each new release
contains new code which has not been debugged. Make sure you keep a
backup of the modules corresponding to that kernel, as well. If you
are installing a new kernel with the same version number as your
working kernel, make a backup of your modules directory before you
do a "make modules_install".
Alternatively, before compiling, use the kernel config option
"LOCALVERSION" to append a unique suffix to the regular kernel version.
LOCALVERSION can be set in the "General Setup" menu.
- In order to boot your new kernel, you'll need to copy the kernel
image (e.g. .../linux/arch/i386/boot/bzImage after compilation)
to the place where your regular bootable kernel is found.
- Booting a kernel directly from a floppy without the assistance of a
bootloader such as LILO, is no longer supported.
If you boot Linux from the hard drive, chances are you use LILO which
uses the kernel image as specified in the file /etc/lilo.conf. The
kernel image file is usually /vmlinuz, /boot/vmlinuz, /bzImage or
/boot/bzImage. To use the new kernel, save a copy of the old image
and copy the new image over the old one. Then, you MUST RERUN LILO
to update the loading map!! If you don't, you won't be able to boot
the new kernel image.
Reinstalling LILO is usually a matter of running /sbin/lilo.
You may wish to edit /etc/lilo.conf to specify an entry for your
old kernel image (say, /vmlinux.old) in case the new one does not
work. See the LILO docs for more information.
After reinstalling LILO, you should be all set. Shutdown the system,
reboot, and enjoy!
If you ever need to change the default root device, video mode,
ramdisk size, etc. in the kernel image, use the 'rdev' program (or
alternatively the LILO boot options when appropriate). No need to
recompile the kernel to change these parameters.
- Reboot with the new kernel and enjoy.
IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG:
- If you have problems that seem to be due to kernel bugs, please check
the file MAINTAINERS to see if there is a particular person associated
with the part of the kernel that you are having trouble with. If there
isn't anyone listed there, then the second best thing is to mail
them to me (email@example.com), and possibly to any other relevant
mailing-list or to the newsgroup.
- In all bug-reports, *please* tell what kernel you are talking about,
how to duplicate the problem, and what your setup is (use your common
sense). If the problem is new, tell me so, and if the problem is
old, please try to tell me when you first noticed it.
- If the bug results in a message like
unable to handle kernel paging request at address C0000010
eax: xxxxxxxx ebx: xxxxxxxx ecx: xxxxxxxx edx: xxxxxxxx
esi: xxxxxxxx edi: xxxxxxxx ebp: xxxxxxxx
ds: xxxx es: xxxx fs: xxxx gs: xxxx
Pid: xx, process nr: xx
xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx
or similar kernel debugging information on your screen or in your
system log, please duplicate it *exactly*. The dump may look
incomprehensible to you, but it does contain information that may
help debugging the problem. The text above the dump is also
important: it tells something about why the kernel dumped code (in
the above example it's due to a bad kernel pointer). More information
on making sense of the dump is in Documentation/oops-tracing.txt
- If you compiled the kernel with CONFIG_KALLSYMS you can send the dump
as is, otherwise you will have to use the "ksymoops" program to make
sense of the dump. This utility can be downloaded from
Alternately you can do the dump lookup by hand:
- In debugging dumps like the above, it helps enormously if you can
look up what the EIP value means. The hex value as such doesn't help
me or anybody else very much: it will depend on your particular
kernel setup. What you should do is take the hex value from the EIP
line (ignore the "0010:"), and look it up in the kernel namelist to
see which kernel function contains the offending address.
To find out the kernel function name, you'll need to find the system
binary associated with the kernel that exhibited the symptom. This is
the file 'linux/vmlinux'. To extract the namelist and match it against
the EIP from the kernel crash, do:
nm vmlinux | sort | less
This will give you a list of kernel addresses sorted in ascending
order, from which it is simple to find the function that contains the
offending address. Note that the address given by the kernel
debugging messages will not necessarily match exactly with the
function addresses (in fact, that is very unlikely), so you can't
just 'grep' the list: the list will, however, give you the starting
point of each kernel function, so by looking for the function that
has a starting address lower than the one you are searching for but
is followed by a function with a higher address you will find the one
you want. In fact, it may be a good idea to include a bit of
"context" in your problem report, giving a few lines around the
If you for some reason cannot do the above (you have a pre-compiled
kernel image or similar), telling me as much about your setup as
possible will help.
- Alternately, you can use gdb on a running kernel. (read-only; i.e. you
cannot change values or set break points.) To do this, first compile the
kernel with -g; edit arch/i386/Makefile appropriately, then do a "make
clean". You'll also need to enable CONFIG_PROC_FS (via "make config").
After you've rebooted with the new kernel, do "gdb vmlinux /proc/kcore".
You can now use all the usual gdb commands. The command to look up the
point where your system crashed is "l *0xXXXXXXXX". (Replace the XXXes
with the EIP value.)
gdb'ing a non-running kernel currently fails because gdb (wrongly)
disregards the starting offset for which the kernel is compiled.