IN THIS CHAPTER
SUSE kernels and vanilla kernels
Configuring and building the kernel
The initial ramdisk
The kernel is the heart of Linux. Indeed, strictly speaking, the kernel is Linux—hence, the naming controversy. (Those who prefer the term GNU/Linux stress the fact that the system as a whole contains a Linux kernel and the GNU utilities.)
In this chapter, we discuss the kernel in general and the SUSE kernel packages, and we explain how to configure and build a kernel. We also look at some of the problems involved with running third-party software that requires specific kernel versions.
At one time, this would have been one of the most important chapters in the book. Knowing how to configure and recompile a kernel was a vital skill in the earlier years of Linux. This has changed for various reasons. The kernel is modular and vendors such as SUSE provide a kernel with virtually anything that you might need available as a module. This means that it is very unlikely that you will need to reconfigure and recompile to get support for some particular device; the support will already be there in the form of a loadable module. In most circumstances, SUSE will be unwilling to support you if you are not running the shipped kernel binaries.
Also, the relationship between the size of the kernel and the amount of memory on a system has changed beyond all recognition; the kernel has grown ...