Is it difficult to compile your own kernel?

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It depends upon your level of technical sophistication, as well as familiarity with Linux. I wouldn't recommend trying to do this if you're just starting out with Linux. More important is what you're trying to accomplish by compiling your own kernel. If it's research, that's one thing. If it's for a production system, that's another.

Also, there are a large number of Linux distros available in which someone else has done the heavy lifting. Perhaps one of those will serve your purpose. If you do decide to roll your own, there are lots of tutorials and so on available on the Internet. I'm sure there are a few books as well.

This was first published in April 2007

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