Now with … 2.6.25-gentoo-r9!

Being somewhat of a techy-related blog, I guess that should warrant a post on my recent battle with the Kernel gentoo-sources 2.6.25-gentoo-r9. The version I was running before was r7, which was sadly two revisions out of date. :( Even worse before that was I was using 2.6.24-r4. Which was a whole version out of date. To end with a climax, before that I was using 2.6.19-r5, which was FIVE versions out of date. This probablys shows I’m getting better at time management, or I’m getting more uncomfortable with the notion of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it“.

Using Gentoo, one is expected to be rather capable of compiling and configuring a linux kernel. Side effects include 1) a Gentoo user is therefore able to optimise a system for his/her hardware, and 2) the Gentoo Linux Distribution becomes one of the geekiest available. (trumped only by LFS). So there I was, poking around my list of packages when I noticed bah! I’m two revisions out of date. I woosh off in all glory to my /usr/src/linux, make menuconfig, zoom around enabling drivers and removing unnecessary crud (seriously, I thought reiserfs was dead? Even worse, it assumes I want OSS instead of ALSA?). Some minutes later, I save my configuration, quit, and compile make && make modules_install. Baah-dum-bah-bee. Flawless compile. Copy the bzImage to my /boot, (whoah, I’ve got a lot of old kernel builds there – I should remove them), name it something intelligent (like kernel-2.6.25-gentoo-r9), add a new entry into my grub.conf to boot to r9 as well as r7, then type in the magic word: “reboot”.

Oh, wait! – you say, where is the problem? No problem! (or so I thought) No kernel panics, no nothing fancy, no forgetting to add filesystem support … so I punch up startx, ratpoison, KDE loads, start surfing the web, chatting on Kopete, grooving along to my … wait, what? NO MUSIC? Panic. I check my mpc. It’s playing. I check my mpd, it’s on. Check alsamixer and whooooop-what? No alsamixer? Not good. Oh wait I said, I remember I removed it from runlevel to speed up boot-time. So I /etc/init.d/alsasound start. and then catastrophe strikes! No drivers detected?

Rush back to my kernel menuconfig, Device Drivers -> Sound -> ALSA (check OSS is disabled) -> PCI Devices -> hmm… Yes, I do have Intel/SiS/nVidia/AMD/ALi AC97 Controller enabled. Time to double check if that’s the right one. Read the doc on it, and yep – it’s snd-intel8x0 for sure. Perhaps it’s a module problem? Modprobe snd-intel8x0 gives me FATAL: NO MODULES FOUND. Oh no!

— Cut: I thought I could turn a very geeky issue into a dramatic story but apparently I was wrong —

Ok. So I ended up having to unmask alsa-driver and alsa-headers, then dump ALSA_CARDS=”intel8x0″ into my etc/make.conf, then emerge alsa-driver. How silly, in my opinion, that I should require a non-supported package after a kernel upgrade. I’ve sent the alsa-bugs guys an email asking them what’s going on, and hopefully I’ll get an answer soon about why the in-kernel driver no longer likes my computer.

Dion Moult

I've been developing software for well over 10 years, work as an architect (not the computer kind, the regular sort), and am classically trained as a pianist. I try to do the right thing when I get the chance in my field, such as through contributing to open-source communities and promoting sustainable living.

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