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Modular or Monolithic?
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Thread: Modular or Monolithic?

  1. #1
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    Modular or Monolithic?

    I've been reading a little of the book Securing & Optimizing Linux: The Ultimate Solution v2.0 and the author talks about building a monolithic kernel. If your computer doesn't change very much, wouldn't building a monolithic kernel make more sense than a modular one? I'm leaning toward recompiling my stock Slack kernel to be monolithic instead of modular but haven't made my mind up yet.

    Any thoughts on the subject? Pitfalls that you've encountered? Advise?

    Cheers

  2. #2
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    Re:Modular or Monolithic?

    if you're sure that your hardware will never change then there is no reason to use kernel modules IMO (except for closed source stuff that is only available as a module like nvidia,vmware,...)

    however, suppose you have a hardware problem and you need to replace that part... if you do not have support for that new piece of hardware in your kernel and don't have a modular kernel + the necessary module available on the system (like the one that came with the distro for instance) then you could be in trouble depending on which piece of hardware it is.

    i used to build monolithic kernels all the time for my system, but ever since i switched back to distros i just use the kernel that came with the distro. those are always modular and the people who built those kernels generally know a lot more about the kernel than you do. you really won't notice any performance difference with a custom-compiled kernel (unless you need to recompile it to enable a specific feature) and if you do, it's probably the placebo effect. From a security POV it might have some advantages, but you should ask yourself: is it really worth it? i don't think so, but of course you are free to disagree

  3. #3
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    Re:Modular or Monolithic?

    Davy,

    Your reply was well thought out and presented. I think I missed that the most about not having you around here over the last year or two. Welcome back. And thanks for the reply.

    Cheers

  4. #4
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    Re:Modular or Monolithic?

    For all my desktop systems I build modular kernels and compile lots of extra modules that I think might be useful at some point in time (and end up not using them ). On a production server, however, I would never build a modular kernel. Not only that but I always disable the kernel module loader altogether and usually don't even install modutils even though this breaks dependancies on most all distros. I think this is quite a big security advantage: Just think of rootkits. Most of the time they insert kernel modules that enable some backdoor. Which doesn't work once module loading is disabled in your config.

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