Redhat enterprise Linux / CentOS installing kernel source code

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Q. How do I install Linux kernel source code and headers under RHEL 5 or CentOS 5 Linux operating system?

A. Both CentOS and RHEL 5 includes following packages:

a) Kernel-headers : It includes the C header files that specify the interface between the Linux kernel and userspace libraries and programs. The header files define structures and constants that are needed for building most standard programs and are also needed for rebuilding the glibc package.

b) kernel-devel : This package provides kernel headers and makefiles sufficient to build modules against the kernel package.

c) Actual kernel source code : You can always download actual source code here. Look for kernel*.rpm file.

Rhel / CentOS 5 install kernel headers

Use yum command as follows:
# yum install kernel-devel Kernel-headers

Install kernel source code

Type the command as follows:
# cd /tmp
# wget ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/redhat/linux/enterprise/5Server/en/os/SRPMS/kernel-2.6.18-8.1.8.el5.src.rpm
# rpm -ivh kernel-2.6.18-8.1.8.el5.src.rpm

Note change version number as per your current kernel.

For recompiling or adding a new module or device driver you just need kernel-devel and Kernel-headers packages. To rebuilt kernel rpm goto /usr/src/redhat/SPECS directory, modify kernel spec file and use rpmbuild command to rebuild rhel/centos kernel rpm.

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

8 comment

  1. The various source rpm’s referenced in the article such as kernel-2.6.18-8.1.8.el5.src.rpm do not contain the source but rather patches to the source…

  2. Upon further examination, the *.src.rpm does have the source in a tarball within it. You’re expected to build the source tree with the rpmbuild command. A command reference would be http://kbase.redhat.com/faq/FAQ_85_5109.shtm

    Keep in mind that you will need the unifdef package which is not installed by default. You’ll find it on the third installation CD.

  3. hi,
    i want the source code of Linux.
    i don’t know exact location for it.
    could i know about this?
    thank you.

  4. I think you have a typo in your example.

    # yum install kernel-devel Kernel-headers

    has a capital “K” in Kernel-headers, but that didn’t work for me. I changed it to a lowercase “k” and it worked just fine.

  5. Just look at the src.rpm for the source code. You can extract it via command

    rpm2cpio kernel-bla-bla-bla.src.rpm | cpio -idvm

    and then a simple

    ls *.tar.{bz2|gz}

    will take you to the source :)

  6. In RHEL 6, at least, you can simply:

    yum install --enablerepo rhel-debuginfo kernel-debuginfo

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