Playing around Linux kernel is always something very interesting to me. In fact, it is very straightforward to run the kernel built by ourself. also in order to play around a linux driver, it is must to have a kernel build enviroment in place first.

Linux kernel dev

Choose a linux distribution to start

There are so many Linux distributions around, and it could be confusing which one to use. After I did a bit homework, I landed with Fedora. Here is the path I walked through: the majorities of linux boxes in my Cisco lab run either Ubuntu or Redhat Enterprise/Centos. Since Redhat/Centos has pretty old version os kernel, I’m not that interested to use that. So initially I wanted to use Ubuntu, I love Ubuntu because it is so easy to get most tools/packages I wanted to be installed. I thought it would be awesome to have my own built kernel running in my boxes. However, after I played around it, I realized there are some wrapper layers around Ubuntu kernel build. If I want to download and build kernel from, which is not going to work straightly. Then I looked into Gentoo and Arch Linux, which are two who are famous for providing the flexibity for the developer to customize what he wants. I did install Gentoo, but felt it was a bit too much for customization as I already used to smoothe installation of ubuntu. I want something in between. I did a bit googling, and found Fedora is the one what I look for. Some peopel said Linus Torvalds is using Fedora too.

linux fedora 23](/uploads/linux/fedora-23.jpg)

Following are the steps to follow to set up a kernel development using Fedora 23.

Download Fedora 23 workstation.

xterm# wget

Download and burn into a DVD if needed.

Install Fedora

There are two ways:

  • Install as virtual machine, e.g. using VirtualBox. It is convient, but could lost some functionality like HPET etc.
  • Install in a bare metal box.

Boot Fedora and rebuild vanilla linux kernel from mainline

  1. Clone Linus' GIT repository from GitHub: git clone
  2. In order to do kernel configuration change through "make menuconfig", ncurses-devel package needs to be installed: dnf install ncurses-devel
  3. By default openssl-devel package is not installed, and which is required by kernel build: dnf install openssl-devel
  4. kernel configuration: copy the kernel configuration file of current running kernel: cp /boot/config-$(uname -r) .config, then invoke "make menuconfig: to adjust the kernel configuration, save it.
  5. make oldconfig && make bzImage
  6. make modules && make modules_install
  7. make install
  8. reboot

Now you should have kernel built by yourself running.

You are ready to build your own kernel driver.