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Old 05-18-2007, 02:56 PM   #1
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Rebuilding kernel for highmem support?

Hello there

I am very new to Linux (24 hours) and this is my first post here, so apologies for improprieties and/or faux pas!

I have recently installed Mandriva Linux after playing around with a few live distributions on CD because it seemed to offer the best automatic detection of my hardware. However, I seem to have made a mistake in the initial install because my memory is reported as 880mb rather than the correct physical 2gb.

I understand from various google searches that this is because I failed to enable "highmem support" in the kernel. I have Mandriva One Spring 2007. From further explorations on google it seems like I might need to rebuild my kernel in order to have Mandriva recognise the full 2gb ram.

As someone who has never rebuilt a kernel in their life and in fact barely knows what a kernel is, could I get some advice please? I have done a google search on rebuilding kernels but a lot of the advice is specific to other distributions. Can someone please tell me:

1. Is it really necessar to rebuild my kernel to get Mandria to recognise my 2gb ram?
2. If it is, what is the absolute easiest way for me to go about this? Is there a Mandriva-specific guide?

Many thanks in advance for any help


Old 05-18-2007, 03:29 PM   #2
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Hi, welcome to Linux
While I'm certainly not the last word on this, I just had a quick look into my kernel configurator, and can indeed say "yes" you ought to recompile your kernel and select the "4Gb Memory Model" located under "Processor Type and Features", which is designed for machines with between 1 and 4 Gb of physical RAM.

As for a Mandriva-Specific compiling guide, there might be one somewhere, but really, building a kernel is 99.999 % the same on every Linux distribution.
You should start by making sure you have the sourcecode for your running kernel release. If you do not have it in /usr/src/Linux/ or a very similar location you can download it from many locations, like If you lived in RUssia for example, you would browse Note the 2 letter country code.
Now, assuming you have the kernel source, you would navigate into the folder where it is and type:
make clean
make mrproper
make xconfig

This will bring up a rather confusing-to-a-newbie menu type thingy. This is where you select all the kernel options and pieces and parts. The one you want as I mentioned above, is the 4Gb memory model.
After having located that and selected it, click FILE--> SAVE from the upper menu bar, and save it as ".config" then hit exit.
Now you type:
and when that finishes, type:
make modules_install

Now, your kernel is built But you are NOT done yet. You must copy the fresh kernel from ../<where-you-compiled-it>/arch/i386/boot/bzImage TO the /boot folder of your system.

.. OK, I'm taking a break but if you are lost, confused, or flummoxed totally, then browse around the forums here for more info, READ the README file inside the kernel source folder, and come back and let us know how you are making out.
It sounds complicated, and surely is for a brand new user, but it really isn't that bad. Put some effort in, and follow the instructions which are abundant on the web and on LQ, and in no time you'll be whipping out kernels in 10 minutes! Really!
See you soon.
PS - this is a VERY brief, but accurate, method of doing this. I realize it likely looks like it's next to impossible for this to be pretty much all it takes to make a kernel, but really, it is the basics. I'll be back shortly, and likely someone else will pop in here and add more stuff for you

Last edited by GrapefruiTgirl; 05-18-2007 at 03:33 PM.
Old 05-18-2007, 04:23 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply. I am slowly struggling through the instructions below since its not quite as simple as the below - I was missing eg make and C++ libraries, qt etc and have had to download these before continuing but I think I'm nearly there! I'll post up if I have any more problems that I can't figure out a way through.

Many thanks

Old 05-18-2007, 04:30 PM   #4
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Wow That's a lot of stuff to be missing.. I wasn't aware Mandriva came so 'incomplete' or I would have mentioned that.. OK, sounds like you are getting a handle on finding your way around though we'll be nearby when you hit a snag.
Old 05-18-2007, 06:10 PM   #5
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Hi and welcome,

Compiling a kernel is a really trying experience. I should know. I don't want to dissuade you from trying it yourself, but I'd have a look at another distro for the time being that compiles their default kernel with high mem support built in. Suse is one such distro, and Ubuntu is another. Then, when you become more familiar with linux and the process of compiling, you can go back to Mandriva and confidently rebuild the kernel.

If you do decide to rebuild it, make sure that you keep the original kernel as a backup, and rename the new one so it doesn't over-write the default kernel or its modules.

Good Luck!
Old 05-19-2007, 02:49 PM   #6
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The kernel you need has already been compiled for you by Mandriva! I have quoted the package description:
kernel-multimedia-desktop- -Linux kernel for desktop use with i686-up-4GB

The kernel package contains the Linux kernel (vmlinuz), the core of your Mandriva Linux operating system. The kernel handles the basic functions of the operating system: memory allocation, process allocation, device input and output, etc. This kernel is compiled for desktop use, single i686 processor/core and less than 4GB RAM, full preempt, low latency and cfq scheduler.
To install this kernel package, open the Mandriva Package Manager (System > Configuration > Packaging > Install, Remove & Update Software in the menu system)

There is a search function near the top of the window.

In the text entry field enter kernel

Press the Search button.

This action will return a list of packages containing the string kernel in the package name.

Scroll down the list to kernel-multimedia-desktop-

Click the check box (left) to select the package for installation.

Click the Apply button (bottom) to install the selected package(s).

If this package is not listed on your system, you will have to configure the Mandriva Package Manager to use the Internet Software Media Sources from the Mandriva ftp mirror nearest to your global location. I have written an article on my LQ Blog to help users new to Mandriva Linux better understand the process.

Old 05-19-2007, 03:25 PM   #7
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Wow, now how's that for 'simple' compared to compiling one yourself PocklingtonDan? Download and install instant presto (or alomst, hopefully) and enjoy!
Thank you for posting that stuff Ernie.



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