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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2020 4:27 pm    Post subject: gentoo-kernel, gentoo-kernel-lib Reply with quote

Currently, I use sys-kernel/gentoo-sources for all my PCs. I recently noticed the existence of gentoo-kernel and gentoo-kernel-bin in the repos/gentoo/sys-kernel tree.

gentoo-sources has gotten very complicated for me to follow and adjust appropriately for each individual PC. Given that the Gentoo Linux Minimal Installation CD has no problem booting on any of my PCs, I'm interested in learning more about gentoo-kernel and gentoo-kernel-bin. I did try finding more information but can't seem to locate any specific official documentation. I've searched both the Wiki and Forums and read everything available in: the Handbook:AMD64, Kernel/Overview, Kernel/Upgrade and MICHAŁ GÓRNY's "A distribution kernel for Gentoo" post.

The "A distribution kernel for Gentoo" post tells me this is something very new (from December 2019). The commentary in the post regarding the current pros and cons of configuring your own kernel resonate deeply with me.

My current process is to copy my in-use config to the new kernel I'm about to build, run 'make oldconfig', inspect all new prompts and hopefully reply appropriately, then 'make && make modules modules_install && make install', run 'genkernel --install --all-ramdisk-modules initramfs' and finally end with 'grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg'. Naturally, there are a few more steps in there dealing with 'cd' and 'ln -s' commands but that's the general idea.

The theory is that all the current functionality I'm using is in the current kernel. I get to see what new functions, modules, and hardware has been added and the resulting new kernel should at least do everything the current kernel does.

This process does occasional fail either because a new kernel function has been hidden due to a prior depending function being turned off or I missed seeing something due to being tired or not understanding what I'm looking at. I heavily rely on emerge pre-check messages to let me know when packages that require newly added kernel settings are missing or need to be turned on. Thank you gentoo developers!

Of course, new system installs are a lot of work in terms of defining an entirely new kernel.

Back in 2000, 2001 etc, kernel size and performance was critically important; especially when still needing to boot from a floppy. Today, I don't build a workstation with less than 32GB or a server less than 64GB of RAM. Booting is done with old 2GB USB sticks. There is no apparent performance penalty to having tonnes of hardware driver modules on hand ready to be used if needed. I simply think it's not worth the time and effort anymore to worry about kernel size. Like many of the control knobs in the kernel for possible performance tuning, the default settings are fine for nearly everyone. You have to have pretty specific use cases before even beginning to think about playing with them (my personal opinion).

In other words, the idea of a single kernel to rule them all has a _lot_ of appeal.

The problem is I don't know the best way to determine if either gentoo-kernel or gentoo-kernel-bin will work for me.

I make use SPF+ adapters so all of my local switch connections are with 10GB nics.

I make use of the 'br' networking functionality (in conjunction with tap0, tap1, tap#).

I make use of 'spice' and QEMU.

I make use of x2go, nfs and samba 4.

I use SAS based high density servers and expansion chassis (used Chenbro, SuperMicro, and Norco). I'm mostly using btrfs raid0 5~7 drive clusters. Critical clusters use raid1. This is my personal hobby. Not a professional business. Please leave off comments about backups and data integrity. Been there. Done that. Written many professional disaster recovery plans with significant budgets. All the data in my raid0 clusters are recoverable over time from third party sources.

I'm currently configuring and planning to convert all my NAS to a CEPH cluster instance (three nodes planned).

I use multiple nics in my servers in order to physically split network traffic (local network, rack only network, separate connection to ISP router). This is done to ensure I don't impact the other users in the building.

What I'd like to know first is if there is anything in the above that would not be supported by gentoo-kernel or gentoo-kernel-bin. I can see that gentoo-kernel-bin would probably be much more restrictive than gentoo-kernel. i.e. Some of the above would not be supported out of the box by either gentoo-kernel or gentoo-kernel-bin but I could possibly add that support myself in gentoo-kernel.

Perhaps future documentation could include some kind of notation of what is supported and what isn't supported. One of the things that concerns me is the mutually exclusive kernel situation with nvidia and nouveau drivers. I've read the guide for having both installed and being able to switch (very klunkily) between them. I do have one workstation with an nvidia card installed (using nvidia proprietary driver). The servers are Matrox GPUs and everything else is AMD/radeon.

A bit pie-in-the-sky, but it would also be nice if there was some kind of tool to list available kernel functionality in a format understandable by users. I'm thinking of (non-exhaustive list), for example: listing KVM, file systems, networks, iptable functions, cryptography functions, hardware by manufacturer and chipset lists.

The brute force approach as an end user is to either do 'make menuconfig' and then search or to "grep -i $tring /usr/src/linux/*". I sometime use the last when looking for specific chip's drivers because it's not always clear where they are classified. This last might be a good 'Google Summer of Code' project for someone. Not me. I'm retired.

Anyway, can anyone give some guidance on gentoo-kernel and gentoo-kernel-bin and how much relative functionality they have?
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd suspect it should be as "good" as a bindist kernel like from RH or Ubuntu or Debian or whatnot. Or even the mini installer, though I would suspect that the wifi drivers must be included where the mini installer CD may not have it (unsure, haven't seen it in years.)

I'm sure there should be a .config somewhere for the preset kernel that you can look through, but you're still stuck with looking if it has what you need. It's always been an issue, Debian has had a lspci -> modules list that works but now with today's USB and SPI connected devices, it's not so easy anymore. Plus drivers may get outdated and swapped for a newer one over time...
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Joined: 16 Feb 2019
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I threw the bin kernel on the other day just to check it out. I have a very bare-bones Ryzen system w/AMDGPU, but the bin kernel booted up with no problem. Its based off Arch .config so many things will just work. I would just install it, and if it boots it works, if not just uninstall it an continue building your own.
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