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Libre Linux (GNU Kernel) on openSUSE

Posted in Linux Kernel, openSUSE by anaumov on 09.10.2018

As we known, openSUSE project doesn’t provide official packages for Linux Libre kernel. There is a simple reason for that: default openSUSE kernel doesn’t include some proprietary modules; it’s free. All proprietary parts of the kernel could be found in a separate package kernel-firmware. But anyway there are users who want to use exactly GNU version. So, why not? This short tutorial describes how to build and install Libre Linux on openSUSE Leap 15.1 (openSUSE TW needs the same instructions).

Right now in the Leap 15.1 repository the kernel version is 4.12.14.

> uname -r

Let’s check the latest available 4.x kernel on the FSF server. Right now the latest avaliable kernel there is version 4.18. Its size is less then 100 Mb. Download and untar it:

> wget -c \
> tar xfv linux-libre-4.18-gnu.tar.xz
> cd linux-4.18

Well… now comes the personal part of the installation process, i.e. you know better what’s you should to care about during creating the config file, what’s hardware do you have and your kernel should support, what kind of optimization do you want to have, etc. That’s the most important step of this entire tutorial. For example, good configured kernel could save few seconds of boot time, bad configured kernel will doesn’t boot at all 🙂
To prepare the configuration file, you will need a base kernel configuration, it’s a plain text file calling .config. The are many ways to create .config file. It’s the same like for official Linux Kernel.
Before we can configure our new kernel we will need to install all needed dependencies.

# zypper in gcc make ncurses-devel bison flex libelf-devel libopenssl-devel bc
# make menuconfig
# make -j4
# make modules_install
# make install

If you newer built a linux kernel before and it makes you scary, you can just make make menuconfig and just close it without to change anything. It will scan your hardware and generate a default config. This configuration will include much more then you will really need, but it guarantees that the new kernel will boot.

After installing we can still find the native openSUSE default-kernel in the GRUB menu. I think, this is the default behavior today in the most GNU/Linux systems. Thus, if something goes wrong and, for example, your new self-configured kernel will not boot, don’t worry.

> uname -r

I think, if it’s your first experience with the kernel compilation process and you will get new kernel that will boot and it will be smaller then default openSUSE kernel, you can be proud of yourself.
Whatever you will get, don’t forget to have a lot of fun 🙂
More info about Linux kernel for beginners could be found on the https://kernelnewbies.org/. More info about GNU Libre Linux could be found on the https://www.fsfla.org/ikiwiki/selibre/linux-libre/index.en.html. And, finally, if you interested in openSUSE Linux kernel development process, you are welcome to visit openSUSE wiki portal.


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