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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

LINUX: Upgrade to Kernel 2.6.7 on Slackware 10

DistroWatch.com: Put the fun back into computing. Use Linux.: "The new Slackware 10.0

The fans of the oldest surviving Linux distribution once again had a reason to celebrate last week as Slackware Linux entered the double-digit release figures with version 10.0. If you haven't tried it yet, do yourself a favour and get the release; unless you insist on having graphical utilities for all configuration tasks, you won't be disappointed - Slackware 10.0 continues in its tradition of simplicity and reliability. It comes with KDE 3.2.3, GNOME 2.6.1, and many other up-to-date applications.

Some users might be disappointed about the fact that the Linux kernel in Slackware 10.0 remains at version 2.4. But as we have seen with other distributions, the 2.6 kernel still has a long way to go before it becomes a truly stable kernel that can be given the responsibility to power important servers and desktops. Trust Patrick Volkerding on this one - he has been developing Slackware for over 10 years and he knows. At Slackware, technical decisions usually take precedence over marketing ones, which is not always the case with the big commercial distributions.

Of course, many of the more advanced users are already running Slackware Linux 10.0 with kernel 2.6.7. The relevant package can be found in the testing/packages/linux-2.6.7 directory on the second CD. There is no option to select this kernel during installation so you will have to install it manually with 'installpkg':

installpkg kernel-generic-2.6.7-i486-1.tgz

You can also install the alsa-driver, kernel-headers and kernel-modules packages with the same command. Before you can boot the new kernel you will need to do two more things. Firstly, you will have to create initrd so that you can load certain kernel modules before mounting the root partition. The details are in the README.initrd file in the same directory as the kernel 2.6.7. The required command depends on the root partition's file system - you were given a choice between ReiserFS (default) and ext3; if you chose ext3, then navigate to the /boot directory and issue the following command:

mkinitrd -c -k 2.6.7 -m jbd:ext3 -f ext3 -r /dev/hdb3

The /dev/hdb3 in the above command should of course be replaced with the root partition of your Slackware installation. If you chose ReiserFS, you can achieve the same with this command:

mkinitrd -c -k 2.6.7 -m reiserfs

Secondly, you will have to update your /etc/lilo.conf file to look something like this:

image = /boot/vmlinuz-ide-2.4.26
root = /dev/hdb3
label = Linux-2.4
read-only
image = /boot/vmlinuz-generic-2.6.7
initrd = /boot/initrd.gz
root = /dev/hdb3
label = Linux-2.6
read-only

Again, you need to replace /dev/hdb3 with the root partition of your own Slackware installation. Don't forget to execute the 'lilo' command after saving the modified lilo.conf file.

When you reboot, the lilo prompt will give you a choice to select between the two kernels. While the majority of users are unlikely to experience problems with the newer one, some hardware combinations are known to cause problems. If this is your case, the tried and tested kernel 2.4 is still available for your booting pleasure.

Whatever your choice, happy Slacking ;-)

Slackware 10.0


Slackware 10.0 with GNOME 2.6.1. (full image size 432kB)
(No, the wallpaper is not part of the distribution, but you can find this one and others at KDE-Look.org.)"

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