Compile Linux Kernel (on Fedora), Pune Kernel Meetup Assignment

Pune Kernel Meetup Assignment.

An assignment was given at Pune Kernel Meetup-January-2018, for people to get started with linux kernel.

The assignment was to print “Hello World” as the first line in the kernel boot up.

So here is the solution to this problem that I could find.

The Solution.

Here are the steps to print “Hello World” as the first line in the kernel bootup.

How to do that?

Get the kernel source tree.

To get the kernel source tree you need git.

You can install git using these commands.

On Debian based systems.

$ sudo apt-get install git

On rpm based systems.

# for rhel/centos
$ sudo yum install git

# for fedora 21 and above
$ sudo dnf install git

Once you have git installed, you can now clone the kernel.

To clone the kernel, run these commands.

$ mkdir kernel
$ cd kernel
$ git clone -b staging-testing git://

After this you will have Greg Kroah-Hartman’s staging tree repository cloned into kernel directory.

Find the entry point of the kernel.

Once you have cloned the kernel. It’s time to find the entry point (main function) of the kernel.

If you go to the kernel source tree and check out what directories are there, it is quite easy to guess which directory may contain the main function of the kernel.

[groot@localhost ~]$ cd kernel/staging/
[groot@localhost staging]$ ls
arch   COPYING  Documentation  fs       ipc      kernel    MAINTAINERS  Module.symvers  samples   sound  virt
block  CREDITS  drivers        include  Kbuild   lib       Makefile     net             scripts   tools
certs  crypto   firmware       init     Kconfig  LICENSES  mm           README          security  usr
[groot@localhost staging]$ ls init/
built-in.a   do_mounts.c  do_mounts_initrd.c  do_mounts_rd.c  init_task.c  main.c    modules.builtin  noinitramfs.c
calibrate.c  do_mounts.h  do_mounts_md.c      initramfs.c     Kconfig      Makefile  modules.order    version.

You can see there is a main.c in the kernel/staging/init directory.

There is no main function in this main.c but, there is a function called start_kernel which is the entry point of the kernel.

You just need to put your printk statement at the start of this function to display your message as soon as the kernel boots up.

Compile Kernel (on Fedora).


To compile the kernel you will have to install some packages.

On fedora you can do it using the following command.

$ sudo dnf group install "C Development Tools and Libraries"
$ sudo dnf install elfutils-libelf-devel

Get the config

You can use your existing kernel config for the kernel you are now going to compile. You can do that by running,

$ cd ~/kernel/staging/
$ cp /boot/config-`uname -r`* .config 

If you want to make any changes in the config you can use

$ make menuconfig

If you want to save the current config before you make any changes, you can use.

$ make olddefconfig

Build the kernel

To build the kernel

$ make

Once this is done, you will have vmlinux file in the kernel/staging directory. This is your kernel that you’ve just built.

Install kernel

To install this kernel

$ sudo make modules_install install

Run the kernel.

Now you have the kernel installed, but the os won’t run this kernel right away when you reboot your system. For that you will have to put a menu entry in the grub (bootloader).

On Fedora you can do this using

$ sudo grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

This command adds a menu entrie in the /boot/grub2/grub.cfg for each of the kernels available in the /boot directory.

Once all this is done, you are all set to start using your new kernel. Just reboot the system and select your kernel entry in the grub.

Check if the “Hello World” message.

After booting your new kernel, go to terminal and run

$ dmesg | grep <your message>

This will show the line in the kernel log where your message is printed on the kernel.