Chapter 7. Kernel Itches and Other Configuration Annoyances

Even when you get a thoroughly tested and supposedly user-friendly distribution of Linux, things may not work the way you want out of the box. Superficial problems such as file shares that you can’t access on other computers, or Microsoft partitions you want to read on your own computer, can usually be fixed with helper programs. But sometimes serious upgrades are required, which may include a new kernel module or even a new version of the kernel. A lot of this chapter, therefore, covers kernel configuration and compilation.

This chapter is rounded out with a couple of annoyances that don’t fit into other chapters: allowing regular users to mount the CD, and configuring access to Microsoft-formatted VFAT and NTFS partitions.

The Kernel Needs an Upgrade

You don’t need to change the kernel on your system often, but any Linux geek should be comfortable installing a new kernel without having to upgrade the entire distribution. The difficulty of the job depends on the reason you’re upgrading. If a security flaw or other bug is found that merits an upgrade (which doesn’t happen often), you may be able to simply download a package from your distributor with the new kernel. Support for new hardware may require the compilation of a new module, but usually not the entire kernel. The one major job you may run into—recompiling the whole kernel—is usually necessary only when you want to add some major feature, such as a new networking ...

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