Rebuilding the DICE kernel

This page is intended to document the entire process for rebuilding kernels on SL6 and SL7. It is rare to need to rebuild a kernel these days, most likely it will be to apply a security patch.

There are some useful guides on the Centos wiki:

Your Build Environment

You will need to build the packages locally, doing this over AFS will take a very long time and might well thrash the fileserver. Here's how I configure my rpmbuild environment.

My ~/.rpmmacros file contains:

%_topdir      /afs/

and the ~/rpmbuild location is a symlink to /disk/scratch/squinney/rpmbuild

The build process can take a stupidly long time so if you are in a hurry you should consider asking RAT kindly if you can use a machine with a large number of processors. You will then need to tweak the parallelisation level for make like this:

%_smp_mflags  -j32

Where the 32 should be replaced with the largest number you can get away with. This can shave hours off the build time so it's well worthwhile.

On the build machine you will need to create the link and the various sub-directories for the rpmbuild tree:

mkdir -p /disk/scratch/$USER/rpmbuild/{BUILD,RPMS,SOURCES,SPECS,SRPMS}
ln -s /disk/scratch/$USER/rpmbuild ~/rpmbuild

Obviously, this requires that the kernel builds are done on a machine with scratch disk space. Your desktop will have this but so will the various build hosts (e.g. buildsl7). It's definitely slower on a build host because they are virtual machines but that can still be preferable to having your desktop chugging away for ages if you want to get on with other things.

If you already have the rpmbuild tree configured the way you want then I suggest it is cleaned out before you start the build. The kernel SRPMs contain a LOT of stuff and it is definitely easier to deal with the various files if you have cleaned out the tree first. This will do the trick:

rm -rf ~/rpmbuild/*/*

Building the Kernel Packages

The process for all platforms boils down to something along these lines:

  1. Fetch and install the required kernel SRPM
  2. Install build-dependencies
  3. Apply patches
  4. Edit the specfile.
  5. Build
  6. Submit
  7. Build any other kernel module packages we need (e.g. openafs)
  8. Test

The modifications for the specfiles are similar on all platforms. The %changelog section should also be modified to include a statement of what you have done to the kernel.

Fetching the source

The easiest way to fetch the source for a kernel is to use the yumdownloader tool:

yumdownloader --source kernel

If you need a specific version then that can be made explicit, e.g. kernel-3.10.0-229.11.1.el7

The SRPM file will be downloaded into the current directory and can be then be installed using rpm -i as usual.


The simplest and easiest way to install any additional build-dependency packages required for the kernel is to use yum as root:

yum-builddep kernel

This does, of course, mean that they will be removed at the next run of updaterpms.

Creating a patch

If you do not already have a patch to apply then it will have to be created by editing the relevant source files and using diff.

First unpack the package:

rpmbuild -bp rpmbuild/SPECS/kernel.spec

Note that it is -bp for prepare, and not -ba for build all.

Next go into the BUILD directory for the kernel and create a copy of the original against which you can later run diff:

cd rpmbuild/BUILD/kernel-3.10.0-229.20.1.el7/
cp -r linux-3.10.0-229.20.1.el7.x86_64{,.orig}

When editting the files please try to stick to the standard whitespace rules for the kernel source, if in doubt copy from the surrounding lines.

Once the source files are editted ensure you delete any editor backup files which have been created (e.g. *~ for emacs) so they do not appear in the diff.

To generate a patch do this:

diff -ruNp  linux-3.10.0-229.20.1.el7.x86_64{.orig,} > ~/rpmbuild/SOURCES/linux-join_session_keyring.patch

The -p flag is useful as it will show which C function each change is in.

Ensure the patch file is well-named so the purpose is obvious.

It is important that the diff is created at the correct directory level since patches are always applied with -p1 in the specfile.

Specfile changes

Here is a rough outline of the changes which must be made to the specfile.

This block should go at the top of the specfile. It should go after the comment block which demonstrates how to spin your own kernel.

%define DICE 1
%if %{DICE}
%define buildid .inf

You will need to add the patch(es) above to the list of patches, please put a explanatory comment before each patch. Adding just before the "empty final patch file" is probably the best place, eg.

%if %{DICE}
# Informatics patch for CVE-2016-0728
Patch1: linux-join_session_keyring.patch

Be careful, there should be exactly one single space between the colon character and the start of the patch file name.

You will then need to add ApplyPatch rules. Again, best add this just before the call to ApplyOptionalPath linux-kernel-test.patch. eg.

%if %{DICE}
ApplyPatch linux-join_session_keyring.patch

ApplyOptionalPath linux-kernel-test.patch

The final thing to do is to add the changelog entry:

* Wed Jan 20 2016 Stephen Quinney <>
- Fixed CVE-2016-0728

Package Building

Once this has all been done the next step is to build the kernel packages:

rpmbuild -ba ~/rpmbuild/SPECS/kernel.spec

Once the main packages are done you will want to also build the documentation and firmware packages. On both architectures this is done by setting the target to noarch

rpmbuild -ba --target noarch ~/rpmbuild/SPECS/kernel.spec

Once that is complete you can use pkgsubmit to submit all the generated kernel packages which are in the RPMS directory.

-- StephenQuinney - 22 Jan 2016 -- AlastairScobie - 26 Aug 2011

Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
elsedice input_patch-2.6.10.dice manage 2.7 K 08 Sep 2006 - 11:36 AlastairScobie input_patch-2.6.10.dice
elsedice input_patch-2.6.18.dice manage 2.8 K 04 Feb 2011 - 10:09 StephenQuinney condor patch for 2.6.18 kernel
elsedice input_patch-2.6.19.dice manage 2.8 K 26 Feb 2007 - 13:30 StephenQuinney condor patch for 2.6.19 kernel on fc6
elsedice input_patch-2.6.22.dice manage 2.8 K 21 Aug 2007 - 11:51 StephenQuinney condor patch for 2.6.22 kernel on fc6
else1 kernel-2.6-inf.spec_2.6.17-1.2174_FC5_dice_1.1 manage 54.4 K 08 Sep 2006 - 11:54 AlastairScobie kernel-2.6-inf.spec for 2.6.17-1.2174_FC5_dice_1.1 kernel
else2 kernel-2.6-inf.spec_2.6.18-1.2257_FC5_dice_1.2 manage 65.3 K 23 Feb 2007 - 12:22 StephenQuinney specfile for 2.6.18 kernel
else1 kernel-2.6-inf.spec_2.6.19-1.2911_FC6_dice_1.1 manage 110.5 K 27 Feb 2007 - 12:56 StephenQuinney specfile for 2.6.19 kernel on fc6
elsepatch linux-2.6.33-dice-condor.patch manage 2.3 K 04 Feb 2011 - 11:02 StephenQuinney DICE condor patch for 2.6.33 on F13
elsepatch linux-2.6.34-dice-condor.patch manage 2.3 K 04 Feb 2011 - 12:10 StephenQuinney DICE condor patch for 2.6.34 on F13
elsepatch lunzero-2.6.32.dice.patch manage 0.5 K 26 Aug 2011 - 12:39 AlastairScobie lunzero patch for FC stability
Topic revision: r15 - 22 Jan 2016 - 16:50:59 - StephenQuinney
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