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Various kernels, instead of just one


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Just a curiosity question. There are lots of types of kernels. Years ago, it seems that we only had to install one, plus the kernel source. Now there are many. I just updated the following kernel security releases, and I was just wondering what each one is suppose to do?








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kernel-desktop-586latest is a metapackage, which fetches the latest available kernel-desktop-586.

The lzma kernel is highly experimental (since you ask what it is, you should not even think using it...), while the vbox-kernel includes modules for usage in a VirtualBox Mandriva guest installation.

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different ones are configured differently, are intended for certain setups, or (as scarecrow pointed out) contain experimental features. you only need one installed, though.


it's that whole "choice" thing that linux is so famous for.

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lzma-kernel and vbox-kernel are not kernels. Any package with the name (something)-kernel is not a kernel. It's a package containing kernel modules (drivers) built via DKMS. We handle some kernel modules externally like this (rather than building them into the kernel package) for various reasons.


lzma-kernel is to do with LZMA support for SquashFS: http://www.squashfs-lzma.org/


we use squashfs to compress One and Flash. It's not something you need to worry about. I think it hangs around after you install One but is not actually needed any more, but it won't hurt anything to keep it.


vbox-kernel is the kernel module required for VirtualBox to work.


There are (in 2009) three official kernel flavors: kernel-desktop586 , kernel-desktop , and kernel-server . kernel-desktop586 is built with i586 optimizations, so it supports true i586 CPUs (original Pentiums and AMD K6, notably, and a few others). It's used on One to ensure One supports the widest possible range of processors. kernel-desktop is the 'standard' kernel, expected to be used on most systems; it's built with i686 optimization, support for up to 4GB of RAM, and with timers and scheduling optimized for desktop use. kernel-server supports up to 64GB of RAM and has its timers and scheduling optimized for server use.


kernel-tmb is an alternative, experimental kernel developed by a volunteer member of our kernel team (Thomas Backlund). It's mostly used a testbed for stuff that is too experimental to get into the main kernel these days. It has its own set of flavors (slightly different from those used by the official kernel).


Then there are several kernels meant mainly for testing purposes, like kernel-linus and kernel-rt. These are unmodified builds of various upstream kernel trees, using mainly for regression testing.

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OK, thanks to Adam for the clarification. But I want to ask:

1. if the vbox-kernel package is aimed at a Virtualbox OSE host, or Virtualbox guest.

2. If the "rt" kernel has something more than the realtime preemption patch, for DAW usage.

3. If the kernel-linus kernel is plain vanilla, or something very close to that.

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Thanks everyone, that was really interesting. I'm glad I asked the question!


you only need one installed, though.

This was what seemed so strange to me. I don't think I "purposely" installed the other kernels. I presume I only need kernel-desktop-586? I would like to get rid of the others if I don't need them, even if they don't do any harm, like the Izma-kernel (as Adam mentioned), as they also keep "multiplying". I just looked in MCC to see which kernels I have installed. I would have just put in a command in Konsole to find the info, but I don't know it! :rolleyes: Anyway, I copied and pasted these:

















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Here is what I have on my Mandriva 2008.1 install. I did a search of all packages containing the word kernel.









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My wife's computer is a dual boot with W2K and Mandriva 2008.1. Mandriva was installed using One.


After reading Adam's post and learning that One installs the desktop586 kernel, I got the courage to install the desktop kernel and remove the desktop586 kernel. Now the OS can see the full 1 GB of ram on her motherboard. :thumbs:

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It seems a bit nutty to me to have the word "kernel" in the names of packages that do not contain a kernel. For example, the packages listed such as nvidia-current-kernel- contain the nvidia driver for that kernel, not the kernel itself. I suppose that there is a reason for the naming convention, but it confused me for a while.




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It seems a bit nutty to me to have the word "kernel" in the names of packages that do not contain a kernel.
Yeh, I agree. Anyone have any idea as to the reason for naming them that way? There's got to be a good reason (at least I would hope so!).


Can I get rid of all those kernels I have installed?

Edited by Kieth
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Well, how else would you suggest naming them? The name has to include a reference to a specific kernel, because it's a binary module build that will only work with one particular kernel. We could call it nvidia-current- , but that just makes it look like is the version of the NVIDIA module, not the version of the kernel it works with.


kieth: you only actually have two kernels installed: kernel-desktop586-2.6.27-0.rc8.2mnb and kernel-desktop586- . The first is the initial 2009 kernel version, the second is the first official update which came out a few days ago. If the updated kernel works well for you you can safely remove the older one, but having it around doesn't do any harm (except take up some disk space). kernel-firmware contains GPL firmware for various kernel drivers, kernel-desktop586-latest is a metapackage which ensures the kernel gets automatically updated (it has to be done this way for slightly complex reasons which are explained elsewhere), and all the others in your list are various kernel modules.


scarecrow: virtualbox-kernel / dkms-virtualbox is for the host. vboxadd-kernel / dkms-vboxadd and vboxvfs-kernel / dkms-vboxvfs are for the guest. kernel-rt and kernel-linus are both perfectly well described in their package descriptions:


"NOTE: This kernel has no Mandriva patches and no third-party drivers, only Ingo Molnar -rt (realtime) series patches applied to vanille kernel.org kernels."

"NOTE: This kernel has no Mandriva patches and no third-party drivers."


so yes, kernel-linus is a vanilla upstream kernel and kernel-rt is a vanilla Linus kernel with the -rt patches applied.

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