Chapter 9. The Linux Kernel

Table of Contents

9.1. Kernel Update
9.2. Kernel Sources
9.3. Kernel Configuration
9.4. Kernel Modules
9.5. Compiling the Kernel
9.6. Installing the Kernel
9.7. Cleaning Your Hard Disk after Compilation


The kernel manages the hardware of every Linux system and makes it available to the various processes. Although the information provided in this chapter will not make you a kernel hacker, learn how to perform a kernel update and how to compile and install a custom kernel. If you follow the instructions in this chapter, the previous kernel remains functional and can be booted if necessary.

The kernel that is installed in the /boot directory is configured for a wide range of hardware. Normally, there is no need to compile a custom kernel, unless you want to test experimental features and drivers.

Often the behavior of the installed kernel can be modified by means of kernel parameters. For example, the parameter desktop sets shorter time slices for the scheduler, resulting in a subjective acceleration of the system. Information is available in the kernel documentation in the directory /usr/src/linux/Documentation, assuming the package kernel-source is installed.

Several Makefiles are provided with the kernel to automate the process. Select the hardware settings and other kernel features. Because you need to know your computer system pretty well to make the right selections, modifying an existing and working configuration file is recommended for your first attempt.

9.1. Kernel Update

To install an official SUSE update kernel, use the online update functionality of YaST. After a kernel update, you must reboot your system, because the old still running kernel cannot find proper modules to provide the needed functionality. Find more information about YaST online update at Section 2.2.3, “YaST Online Update”. When running the update, a pop-up appears that explains all needed actions. Follow these commands to maintain a consistent system.

SUSE LINUX Administration Guide 9.3