Dynamic Kernel Module Support (DKMS)

Gary_Lerhaupt@Dell.com Gary_Lerhaupt at Dell.com
Fri Mar 7 11:48:00 CST 2003

Dell is in the process of exploring a new method for helping our customers
ease the transition between kernel errata with regards to kernel dependant
modules that are not included within the kernel.  Often we are forced to
continually release RPMs with pre-built binaries for certain kernels which
can be very tedious.  Further, since these obviously can't be released at
the same time as the kernel errata, sometimes customers are forced to wait
and choose between errata security updates or functioning drivers.  

There is also the reverse issue that we see with regards to waiting for
errata kernels to specifically fix driver issues for drivers included within
the kernel.  What is needed instead is a separate framework that can update
drivers without needing to update your kernel (as a stopgap until the
updated drivers can be released in a kernel).  The solution to these
problems, we believe, may be DKMS.

DKMS works by creating a separate area apart for your kernel sources that
holds module source.  Drivers are then built directly from module source and
can be built for whichever kernel you have installed on your system but
without specifically requiring you to be running that kernel in order to
build correct drivers (though, you obviously must have the kernel-source for
that kernel installed).  Dell is currently shopping this methodology around
the community in order to get feedback.  However, this should not be
considered a fix to the problem until the feedback and acceptance from the
community has been made and until vendors actually start releasing DKMS
enabled modules.  In the meantime, I'd like to solicit feedback from our
customers and make sure DKMS would viably address your concerns.

Here is my post on lkml:

DKMS can be downloaded at: http://www.lerhaupt.com/dkms/ (as well, you'll
find a sample QLogic RPM that demonstrates the DKMS  process ... please note
that this RPM is not supported by Dell or EMC and is for test purposes

More info on DKMS can also be found on its man page.  It is licensed under
the GPL.

Gary Lerhaupt
Linux Development
Dell Computer Corporation

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