With Linux Kernel 2.6.32 around the corners I see some gurus suggesting users to recompile their own kernels for a dozen of reasons: performance, fast booting, support of some esoteric drivers, bla... bla... What's more, the way some persuade for kernel recompilation seems the job is as easy as any point-n-click installation.
Dear users, kernel recompilation is not easy like that. Plus, you won't get that perceivable performance boost. May be after hours of toil you can cut down 2 secs from your boot time and some unnoticeable system responsiveness.
Except for some really weird situations, modern Linux distributions don't really need kernel recompilation. Here are the reasons:
- Rise of Hardware: Gone are those days of Mega Hertz processors. Now when Quad Core processors have reached the shelves you won't find much performance difference between one of your custom (recompiled) kernels and the one that came with your favorite distribution. Of course, you will still see some point differences in actual benchmarks, but that's minismal enough to be ignored. The point here is modern hardware is really fast. For more speed you can just make some manual changes in your runlevels, services and desktop environment settings.
- Intelligent Kernel: A modern linux kernel though multiple times heavier than its predecessors is also far more intelligent than them. It loads just the required stuff and cuts the clutter from beginning. So, no need to be panic looking at those hundreds of modules.
- Can you Bell the Cat well: Recompiling a kernel is not just a make menuconfig >> make >> make modules, and a couple of such commands away. Even if you do it, you as a normal user (sorry, if you are a geek) can't do the job that good compared to hundreds of developers rolling kernel for your favorite distribution.
- Most often you don't need to: Do you know that the upcoming linux kernel 2.6.32 has support for USB 3.0 drives? Just imagine when the hardware is not yet shipped to the vendors the device drivers are ready in linux kernel. The same thing may not be true for all your ultramodern devices. But, it's matter of time. Just wait for some time and next kernel will most probably have it. Else browse through linux forums you will certainly get a fix or workaround.
- Does it Pay: Though recompiling a kernel really helped couple of years back. Today it doesn't really help you that much. You might take all the pains to roll your own kernel. But at the end just get unnoticeable performance boost.
So, is kernel recompilation all that futile? No! The only benefit lies in enhancing your knowledge. If you are intelligent/keen enough to know the system internals kernel recompilation is a great session. Never mind, if you break you system you can pop up a distro cd and go for clean install, always.