Here's a how-to for building a recent Linux kernel on your Debian GNU/Linux box:

You will need to do all this as root. It's serious business building new Linux kernels :)

su -

The dash after the su command makes it behave as if you had logged in as root directly, a full login environment is applied.

Make sure you have the required tools and libraries installed:

apt-get install build-essential module-init-tools initramfs-tools procps libncurses5-dev kernel-package fakeroot git-core screen zlib1g-dev

Use git to clone Linus' latest git repo:

cd /usr/src

git clone git://

This will take a long time:

Cloning into 'linux'...
remote: Counting objects: 2725713, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (412816/412816), done.
remote: Total 2725713 (delta 2286272), reused 2725359 (delta 2285962)
Receiving objects: 100% (2725713/2725713), 559.28 MiB | 3.30 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (2286272/2286272), done.

Once you have the source you can checkout a specific branch. To see all the remote branches/tags:

cd linux

git ls-remote

As of today the latest is v3.15-rc6, so you can use this command to get that version:

git checkout -b v4.10-rc1

You should see:

Switched to a new branch 'v4.10-rc1'

You can also see what branches and tags are available here:

Now you're ready for configuration. I base my new kernel configuration on a known working configuration, then trim it down from there. Check to see what configurations you have in /boot:

ls /boot/config*

Configure your new kernel source using your chosen config file:

make menuconfig

Select "Load an Alternate Configuration File", enter your config file path, for example I used /boot/config-4.4.0-57-generic. Hit exit and save.

You might also consider using localmodconfig:

make localmodconfig

This command will attempt to automatically configure support for your specific hardware. Just make sure all your hardware devices you want supported are plugged in before running the command.

Build the kernel and package it:

make-kpkg clean

CONCURRENCY_LEVEL=9 screen fakeroot make-kpkg --append-to-version=-1 --revision=1 --initrd kernel_image

make-kpkg clean cleans up the kernel source.

CONCURRENCY_LEVEL=9 translates into make -j9 later. make -j9 means to compile things in parallel using all your processors, so adjust accordingly for your actual system. I usually go 2x the actual number of processors +1.

screen is a command used to run another command in a virtual screen. The new virtual screen doesn't end if you disconnect. man screen if you're not familiar, it's a very useful tool.

fakeroot provides a fake root environment in which to build a package.

make-kpkg is a kernel building and packaging tool.

The --append-to-version is whatever you want, I increment mine by one every time I build a new kernel, and usually start over when Linus releases a "stable" kernel.

The --revision is whatever you want, I set this simply for a shorter package name. make-kpkg puts some useless crap in there unless you set it yourself.

The --initrd option makes dpkg build a new initrd image when you install the kernel package later. An initrd image contains drivers your system needs before your kernel loads, for example, raid and ext4.

Build a new kernel using a distro's (Debian in my case) default config takes a while. Everything will usually work on the first try using a distro config since everything is built as modules as much as possible, and all modules get built. You stand a good chance of successfully booting a new kernel built this way. Later you can remove stuff from the config and rebuild. Wash, rinse, and repeat until you get your kernel config down to just the hardware you actually have in your system.

Install the new kernel:

cd ..

dpkg -i linux-image-4.10.0-rc1-1+_1_amd64.deb


When your system comes back up..

> uname -a
Linux jupiter 4.10.0-rc1-1+ #1 SMP Sun Jan 1 09:06:55 CDT 2017 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

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