HowTo Build Your Own Custom Kernel

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Two Ways to Compile a Kernel

There are two ways to build a custom kernel for the LinkStation/Kurobox. If you have access to an i686 host running some flavor of Linux, you can cross-compile a kernel for ARM9 on an i686 host. Alternatively, if your NAS has enough RAM, you could compile the kernel on the NAS itself, using the system's native gcc. Both ways of these approaches to building a custom kernel are described in the instructions that follow.

Cross-compiling a Kernel

Download All the Required Tarballs

To use the cross toolchain to compile a kernel for ARM9, you'll need access to an i686 host running some flavor of Linux. First, download the cross toolchain (arm-2005q3-2-arm-none-linux-gnueabi-i686-pc-linux-gnu.tar.bz2), mkimage, and the source archive (linux-2.6.12_lsp.1.7.8.tgz):

$ cd /some_directory
$ wget -H -c
$ wget -H -c
$ wget -H -c

If the files were not at the locations indicated above, fear not! Just look in every directory on the server (like I did).

Prepare the Environment

Then, install (i.e., untar) the toolchain and mkimage:

$ cd /some_path
$ tar -xjf /some_directory/arm-2005q3-2-arm-none-linux-gnueabi-i686-pc-linux-gnu.tar.bz2
$ cd bin
$ export PATH=`pwd`:$PATH
$ cp -p /some_directory/mkimage .
$ chmod a+rx mkimage

Strictly speaking mkimage should not go into /some_path/bin. But, hey...

Now untar the source of the kernel in some directory:

$ cd /some_directory
$ tar -xzf linux-2.6.12_lsp.1.7.8.tgz
$ cd linux-2.6.12_lsp.1.7.8

Ready, Get Set, Build!

In some_directory you can find the configs Buffalo used to build the kernels shipped with their various firmwares:

$ ls buffalo/

and choose one to use as a template for yours.

$ cp buffalo/buffalo_lsgl_arm_110.config .config

Then you can modify the configuration as you want:

$ make menuconfig

and start up the build!

$ make uImage

If you selected some features to be built as modules, they need to be prepared too.

$ make modules

The kernel and modules will be ready at arch/arm/boot/uImage.


Compiling a Native Kernel

Software and Source Code Requirements

If the distribution you have installed on your NAS has gcc, and enough RAM to compile a kernel, you should be able to build a custom kernel directly on the box itself. To do this, you will need gcc, a utility called mkimage, and the Buffalo kernel sources for your device. Those using GenLink will already have sys-devel/gcc on their system. mkimage is part of the dev-embedded/u-boot-tools package:

 emerge --getbinpkg --usepkg dev-embedded/u-boot-tools

If you're running a different distribution, you should use the commands appropriate to your distribution to install gcc and u-boot-tools.

In case you're wondering, mkimage is a utility used to create kernel and/or initrd images for use with u-boot. u-boot is the standard bootloader used on the LS. The mkimage utility is run by the Makefile during the kernel build process, and is needed to package the kernel so it can later be loaded by u-boot.

The Buffalo kernel sources for your NAS should be available on the Buffalo Source Code Download page. Just look for the model device that you have, follow the link for the firmware version you want, look for a package name starting with "linux-", and download it.

For example, if you have a LS-CL, you would surf to this page and download linux-2.6.22_lsp.3.0.5.tar.bz2.

Of course, that's only an example. Download the source package that matches your device.

Unpack and Fix Sources

Once you have the kernel sources, you should unpack them somewhere convenient. For the sake of example, we'll use /usr/src/linux.

 cd /usr/src
 tar -xvjf /wherever/i/downloaded/linux-2.6.22_lsp.3.0.5.tar.bz2
 ln -s linux-2.6.22_lsp.3.0.5 linux

(That ln -s is optional, of course, and just for convenience.)

Now that you've unpacked the source, a small change needs to be made to the main Makefile. Since the Makefile was written for cross-compilation, you need to comment out some lines and uncomment others:

 #ARCH           ?= $(SUBARCH)
 ARCH            ?= arm

There's also a small bug in arch/arm/mach-feroceon/Board/boardEnv/mv88F5182BoardEnv.c that you'll want to fix:

 //#if 0

(Why did they put #if 0 in there? Who knows? Just comment it out.)

You also have to swap two pairs of lines in block/ll_rw_blk.c, so that it ends up looking like this:

	if (!uptodate) {
		if (blk_fs_request(req) && !(req->cmd_flags & REQ_QUIET))
			printk("end_request: I/O error, dev %s, sector %llu\n",
				req->rq_disk ? req->rq_disk->disk_name : "?",
				(unsigned long long)req->sector);
                if(atomic_inc_return(&req->rq_disk->nr_errs) < 0)
                     atomic_set(&req->rq_disk->nr_errs, INT_MAX);
		// end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 16
			//char str[32];
			kernevnt_IOErr(req->rq_disk->disk_name /*str*/, (rq_data_dir(req)==WRITE)? "WRITE":"READ", req->sector, ++req->rq_disk->io_errors);

(Why does Buffalo publish incomplete, broken, code? I don't know. They're technically required by the GPL to publish source for their modifications, yet the code released clearly isn't the complete code they used to build their kernels. Is this a violation of the GPL? I'll give you a chance to compile their code, and let you decide for yourself...)

Peek at the LspReadme.txt

In the top level directory of the kernel source, there should be a file LspReadme.txt. This file contains all sorts of great information about the Buffalo kernel. You may want to look through it before you configure your kernel.

Configuring the Kernel

Next, you'll want to pre-configure the kernel with the default .config for your NAS. Assuming you have an LS-GL or LS-CL, which are based on the mv88f5182 chip:

 cd /usr/src/linux
 make mv88f5182_defconfig

That will copy the default Buffalo config file (arch/arm/configs/mv88f5182_defconfig) to .config.

Now, you have to configure the kernel.

 make menuconfig

For some reason, the default .config has CONFIG_BLK_DEV_INITRD and CONFIG_BLK_DEV_RAM disabled, and CONFIG_SYSFS_DEPRECATED and CONFIG_LEGACY_PTYS enabled. So, poke around for those options and change them. When you're done, somewhere in your .config file, you should have each of these lines:

 # CONFIG_LEGACY_PTYS is not set

The default .config also comes with a large number of Buffalo configuration variables unset. The kernel will probably compile if you use these settings:


(In fact, using those was the only way I could get the kernel to compile. Finding this combination took some trial and error, because the Buffalo Kconfig files don't contain proper dependency information for these config variables.)

The default .config also has an incorrect value for CONFIG_MV_ETH_NAME. CONFIG_MV_ETH_NAME should be set as follows:


The default value for this variable ("egiga") makes the first ethernet device on the LS appear as egiga0. Since most alternative distributions and initrds assume that the first ethernet device is eth0, your NAS probably won't be accessible from the network unless you change this to eth (note: that's eth, without no 0).

You may also want to set a "local version" for your kernel:


Compiling the Kernel and Modules

Now, compile the kernel:

 make uImage

And, if you configured any code to load as modules, build the modules:

 make modules
 make modules_install

The kernel should now be ready at arch/arm/boot/uImage, and the modules should be under binaries/lib/modules. As always, make sure to keep backup copies of your existing kernel and modules before you replace them with new ones.

These instructions for native compilation of a custom kernel have been tested and verified to work with the linux-2.6.22_lsp.3.0.5.tar.bz2 Buffalo sources on a LS-CL running GenLink. The resulting kernel compiles, boots, and runs quite nicely on the box. These instructions should work equally well for the


Buffalo ARM9 Kernel Port

LS Pro and LS Live.