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Chapter 4. Kernel Configuration

The Linux kernel configuration is usually found in the kernel source in the file: /usr/src/linux/.config . It is not recommended to edit this file directly but to use one of these configuration options:

The descriptions of these selections that is displayed by the associated help button can be found in the flat ASCII file: /usr/src/linux/Documentation/Configure.help

Ultimately these configuration tools edit the .config file. An option will either indicate some driver is built into the kernel ("=y") or will be built as a module ("=m") or is not selected. The unselected state can either be indicated by a line starting with "#" (e.g. "# CONFIG_SCSI is not set") or by the absence of the relevant line from the .config file.

The 3 states of the main selection option for the SCSI subsystem (which actually selects the SCSI mid level driver) follow. Only one of these should appear in an actual .config file:


CONFIG_SCSI=y
CONFIG_SCSI=m
# CONFIG_SCSI is not set

Some other common SCSI configuration options are:


CONFIG_BLK_DEV_SD        [disk (sd) driver]
CONFIG_SD_EXTRA_DEVS     [extra slots for disks added later]
CONFIG_BLK_DEV_SR        [SCSI cdrom (sr) driver]
CONFIG_BLK_DEV_SR_VENDOR [allow vendor specific cdrom commands]
CONFIG_SR_EXTRA_DEVS     [extra slots for cdroms added later]
CONFIG_CHR_DEV_ST        [tape (st) driver]
CONFIG_CHR_DEV_OSST      [OnSteam tape (osst) driver]
CONFIG_CHR_DEV_SG        [SCSI generic (sg) driver]
CONFIG_DEBUG_QUEUES      [for debugging multiple queues]
CONFIG_SCSI_MULTI_LUN    [allow probes above lun 0]
CONFIG_SCSI_CONSTANTS    [symbolic decode of SCSI errors]
CONFIG_SCSI_LOGGING      [allow logging to be runtime selected]

CONFIG_SCSI_<ll_driver>  [numerous lower level adapter drivers]
CONFIG_SCSI_DEBUG        [lower level driver for debugging]

CONFIG_SCSI_PPA          [older parallel port zip drives]
CONFIG_SCSI_IMM          [newer parallel port zip drives]

CONFIG_BLK_DEV_IDESCSI   [ide-scsi pseudo adapter]
CONFIG_I2O_SCSI          [scsi command set over i2o bus]
CONFIG_SCSI_PCMCIA       [for SCSI HBAs on PCMCIA bus]
CONFIG_USB_STORAGE       [usb "mass storage" type]

CONFIG_MAGIC_SYSRQ       [Alt+SysRq+S for emergency sync]
                         [Alt+SyrRq+U for emergency remount ro]

If the root file system is on a SCSI disk then it makes sense to build into the kernel the SCSI mid level, the sd driver and the host adapter driver that the disk is connected to. In most cases it is usually safe to build the sr, st and sg drivers as modules so that they are loaded as required. If a device like a scanner is on a separate adapter then its driver may well be built as a module. In this case, that adapter driver will need to be loaded before the scanner will be recognized.

Linux distributions have many of the SCSI subsystem drivers built as modules since building all of them in would lead to a very large kernel that would exceed the capabilities of the boot loader. This leads to a "chicken and the egg" problem in which the SCSI drivers are needed to load the root file system and vice versa. The 2 phase load used by the initrd device addresses this problem (see Chapter 6 for more details).