The Linux kernel config/build system, also known as Kconfig/kbuild, has been around for a long time, ever since the Linux kernel code migrated to Git. As supporting infrastructure, however, it is seldom in the spotlight; even kernel developers who use it in their daily work never really think about it.

To explore how the Linux kernel is compiled, this article will dive into the Kconfig/kbuild internal process, explain how the .config file and the vmlinux/bzImage files are produced, and introduce a smart trick for dependency tracking.

Kconfig

The first step in building a kernel is always configuration. Kconfig helps make the Linux kernel highly modular and customizable. Kconfig offers the user many config targets:

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