Removing kernel options and devices in today's world

Doug Poland doug at
Fri Oct 28 16:37:47 PDT 2005


I've been using FreeBSD since 2.1.5 and have dutifully tweaked my
kernels to include devices I need, and remove unwanted things.  This
made a big difference on 486's with 16MB of memory.  

Over the years I've developed a procedure for keeping track of changes
in GENERIC and reducing the amount of time it takes to build a custom
kernel for a given box.  

Fast-forward to 2005, PCI, SMP, gigabytes of RAM, kernel loadable
modules and FreeBSD 6.x.  As I begin preparing some boxes for updating
to 6, I'm wondering if it's really worth the effort to tweak a kernel?
And by this I mean removing devices and options.  It's trivial to have
an include for the devices/options I need to add to every kernel.  But
the list of things to take out keeps getting bigger and bigger and the
chance for errors in editing increase.

I'm thinking of just running GENERIC with necessary additions.  Most of
my boxes are workstations or department-sized servers supporting basic
web, email, and file/print services.   Architecture is all 32-bit Intel
ranging from modest PIII to 4-way Xeon P4.

I can come up with several arguments for both cases (running GENERIC vs.
trimming all unneeded "fat" from a kernel).  Has anyone else wrestled with
this issue and come up with interesting conclusions?


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