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SubjectRe: Development Setups
Hi Adam.

> As a budding kernel hacker looking to cut my teeth, I've become
> curious about what types of setups people hack the kernel with.
> I am very interested in descriptions of the computers you hack
> the kernel with and their use patterns.

Here's the collection I use...

1. 386sx/16 with 8M of RAM running RedHat 6.0 as none of the later
RedHat's will install on it - they all need >8M of RAM to install.
This serves as my network print server.

2. 386sx/25 with 387sx/25 with 8M of RAM running RedHat 6.1 as none
of the later RedHat's will install on it, as stated above. It is
noticable that the presence of a 387 maths copro allowed 6.1 to
install where it wouldn't otherwise.

3. 486sx/25 with 12M of RAM running RedHat 6.2 as none of the
RedHat 7.x's will install, all needing >12M of RAM to install.

4. 486dx2/66 with 16M of RAM running RedHat 6.2 and serving as my
network dial-up server. It's stable as it currently stands, so
is unlikely to be upgraded anytime soon.

5. 486dx4/120 with 32M of RAM running RedHat 6.2 as RedHat 7.x runs
out of hard disk space - it only has a 350M hard drive in it at
the moment.

6. P75 with 32M of RAM running Win95 so I can check that the Linux
systems I set up for customers will correctly interact with any
Win9x systems they may have, and also used to run the software
I need to run that's only available for Win9x.

7. P166 with 96M of RAM awaiting a new hard drive (the existing one
self-destructed a week or so ago). Once the new hard drive is
obtained, I'll be installing RedHat 7.1 on it.

Depending on what else I'm doing at the time, I can use any of the above
to "hack" the kernel, including the Win95 machine if everything else is
busy. I generally use (3) to compile the results on.

> I was thinking of starting with a modern machine for developing and
> compiling on, and then older machine(s) for testing. This way I
> would not risk losing data if I oops or somesuch.

> Alternately, is there a common practice of using lilo to create
> development and testing kernel command lines?

I have a lilo entry that reads as follows:

image=/usr/src/linux/arch/i386/boot/bzImage
label=tryme
alias=develop

I also have a script set up for only root to run that reads...

#!/bin/bash
lilo && lilo -D develop && reboot

...which I run to try the kernel out.

> Is this a useful thing to do or is it too much of brain drain to
> switch between hacking and testing mindsets?

That depends on how you set your system up.

> Instead of having separate machines, there is the possibility of
> using the Usermode port. As I understand it this lags behind the -ac
> and linus kernels so it would be hard to test things like the new
> VM's. Usermode would not be suitable for driver development either.
> Again, thoughts on this mode of development?

I've never tried it, and have no plans to do so.

> Which brings me to the final question. Is there any reason to
> choose architecture A over architecture B for any reason besides
> arch-specific development in the kernel or for device drivers?

Not that I'm aware of.

Best wishes from Riley.

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