The Linux Kernel/Updating
In order to update the kernel, you need to have knowledge of the hardware on your system, or have a prepared .config file compatible with the new kernel.
Reasons for updating
The Linux kernel is an active interface between the hardware and the operating system. All Linux operating systems have a kernel. After sometime the kernel may become out of date, or you (the user) may require additional functionality that the current kernel cannot provide. So a kernel update/upgrade is required.
Updating the kernel
- Download kernel
To start going to the kernel website located at http://www.kernel.org/ via HTTP, FTP, or RSYNC
VERSION is a kernel version (like v2.4 or v2.6) and where
FILE is an archive in tar.gz or tar.bz2 format: (linux-2.4.32.tar.bz2 (30.4 MB) or linux-2.4.32.tar.gz (37.7 MB) or linux-2.6.14.tar.bz2 (38.2 MB) or linux-2.6.14.tar.gz (47 MB).
Here you can download complete kernels or kernel patches. On writing this article the most up to date kernel is 126.96.36.199. The 6 means that it is a stable release (even is stable, odd is unstable). So 2.5 would have been a testing kernel. The 10 refers to the version number for the current 2.6 kernel.
Depending on what kind of computer you have, you will probably want the most up-to-date version, so that it has the greatest support.
- Install the kernel
If you have downloaded a bz2 file
type: tar -xjvf filename.bz2 to unzip
If you have downloaded a gzip file use type: tar -xzvf filename.gz
To keep with file system convention this file should be untared (unziped) to /usr/src/, where all your source code should be stored.
- Compiling the Kernel
If you have an already existing .config file that is compatible with the current kernel you "can" copy that into this dir and run make menuconfig, but a fresh install would be advisable. type: make menuconfig
You will see that you have been given a menu that you can browse using your cursor keys and enter button.
In another prompt using the command lspci. You can see a list of the hardware on your computer. You want to make sure that the key components on that list are installed on your computer. Unfortunately this HOW-TO cannot tell you what to install, but reading the help pages provided will give useful advice.
After you have completed selecting the components for your kernel.
this will then compile your new kernel.
- Installing new kernel
If this has been completed with no errors
type cp /usr/src/<kernel-version>/arch/i386/boot/bzImage /boot/vmlinuz-kernel-version
be sure to keep your old kernel just in case something goes wrong.