Kernel Korner - Exploring Dynamic Kernel Module Support (DKMS)

Manage modules separately from the kernel with a simplified delivery system, and make your package manager more useful.

With the first remove command, the module would be uninstalled. If this module/module-version were not installed on any other kernel, all traces of it would be removed from the DKMS tree. If, say, qla2x00/v6.04.00 also was installed on the 2.4.20-8bigmem kernel, the first remove command would leave it alone—it would remain intact in the DKMS tree. That would not be the case in the second example. It would uninstall all versions of the qla2x00/v6.04.00 module from all kernels and then completely expunge all references of qla2x00/v6.04.00 from the DKMS tree. Thus, remove is what cleans your DKMS tree.

Miscellaneous DKMS Commands

DKMS also comes with a fully functional status command that returns information about what is currently located in your tree. If no parameters are set, it returns all information found. Logically, the specificity of information returned depends on which parameters are passed to your status command. Each status entry returned is of the state added, built or installed. If an original module has been saved, this information also is displayed. Some example status commands include:

dkms status
dkms status -m qla2x00
dkms status -m qla2x00 -v v6.04.00
dkms status -k 2.4.20-8smp
dkms status -m qla2x00 -v v6.04.00 -k 2.4.20-8smp

Another major feature of DKMS is the match command. The match command takes the configuration of DKMS-installed modules for one kernel and applies it to some other kernel. When the match completes, the same module/module-versions installed for one kernel are then installed on the other kernel. This is helpful when you are upgrading from one kernel to the next but want to keep the same DKMS modules in place for the new kernel. In the example:

dkms match --templatekernel 2.4.20-8smp
↪-k 2.4.20-9smp

--templatekernel is the match-er kernel from which the configuration is based. The -k kernel is the match-ee upon which the configuration is instated.

For systems management purposes, the commands mktarball and ldtarball also have been added to DKMS. These commands allow the user to make and load tarball archives, respectively, into the DKMS tree to facilitate using DKMS in deployments where many similar systems exist. This allows the system administrator to build modules on only one system. Rather than build the same module on every other system, the built binary can be applied directly to the other systems' DKMS tree. Specifically, mktarball creates a tarball of the source for a given module/module-version. It then archives the DKMS tree of every kernel version that has a module built for that module/module-version. Consider the example:

dkms mktarball -m qla2x00 -v v6.04.00
↪-k 2.4.20-8smp,2.4.20-8

Depending on the -k kernel parameter, mktarball archives only certain binaries compiled for those kernels specified. If no kernel parameter is given, it archives all built module binaries for that module/module-version.

With ldtarball, DKMS simply parses the archive created with mktarball and applies whatever is found to that system's DKMS tree. This leaves all modules in the built state; the dkms install command then can be used to place the module binaries into the /lib/modules tree. Under normal operation, ldtarball does not overwrite any files that already exist in the system's DKMS tree. However, the archive can be forced over what is in the tree with the --force option. An example ldtarball:

dkms ldtarball --config

The last miscellaneous DKMS command is mkdriverdisk. As can be inferred from its name, mkdriverdisk takes the proper sources in your DKMS tree and creates a driver disk image that can provide updated drivers to Linux distribution installations. A sample mkdriverdisk might look like:

dkms mkdriverdisk -d redhat -m qla2x00
↪-v v6.04.00 -k 2.4.20-8BOOT

Currently, the only supported distribution driver disk format is Red Hat, but this easily could expand with some help from the community in understanding driver disk requirements and formats on a per-distribution basis. For more information on the extra necessary files and their formats for DKMS to create Red Hat driver disks, see These files should be placed in your module source directory.

The dkms.conf Configuration File Format

For maintainers of DKMS packages, the dkms.conf configuration file is the only auxiliary piece necessary to make your source tarball DKMS-ready. The format of the conf file is a successive list of shell variables sourced by DKMS when working with your package. For example, an excerpt from the qla2x00/v6.04.00 dkms.conf file:

MAKE="make all
MAKE_smp="make SMP=1 all
CLEAN="make clean"
MODULES_CONF0="options scsi_mod



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Anonymous's picture
Check the above link, it should give you the answer

Nice article

Pablo Castellano's picture

Nice article

I got an odd problem while

mahan_h's picture

I got an odd problem while installing video card driver ATI Catalyst 8.10 on my Ubuntu 8.10 manually.

I completely followed the way Unofficial ATI Linux Driver Wiki told me.
When I excuted "deb dpkg -i fglrx-amdccle.....deb",
I Got:
"Error! Build of fglrx.ko failed for 2.6.27-7-generic"
"Error! Could not locate fglrx.ko for module fglrx in the DKMS tree"...

How could I fix this problem????

Re: Exploring Dynamic Kernel Module Support (DKMS)

Anonymous's picture

Does anyone know if there are any plans to add DKMS to the Linux kernel?