Linux Tactic

Mastering DKMS: Efficiently Manage Your Linux Kernel Modules

Introduction to DKMS

Have you ever experienced issues updating your Linux kernel modules? Did you know that Dynamic Kernel Module Support (DKMS) could solve these issues?

DKMS is an established system that aids in driver development and system administration by providing support for kernel modules in Linux. In this article, we will understand the importance of DKMS and the benefits of using it.

Definition of DKMS

DKMS stands for Dynamic Kernel Module Support and is a software framework that enables the installation of kernel modules. Kernel modules are code snippets that can be plugged into or removed from a running kernel without interfering with any of the other kernel modules.

DKMS is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2 and is maintained by the Dell Linux Engineering Team.

Benefits of DKMS

DKMS offers many benefits, including simplified driver development, administration, hardware integration, kernel updates, and bug fixes. One of the most significant advantages of DKMS is that it facilitates the management of kernel modules for multiple Linux kernels, and only the necessary modules are recompiled during kernel upgrades.

This ensures that you have the latest kernel version with all the updated modules.

Understanding the Linux Kernel

The Linux Kernel is the heart of the operating system (OS), and it controls how hardware and software work together. It manages memory, processes, and the central processing unit (CPU).

The kernel is responsible for managing device drivers and user applications, which are the programs that people use to interact with the OS.

Kernel Space

Kernel Space is a special region of memory that is used by the kernel to execute high-privileged code. User applications, such as Microsoft Word, Internet browsers, and video games, execute in the User Space.

When an application needs access to the kernel’s features, it sends a System Call to the kernel requesting it to perform a specific task. System Calls are an interface between user applications and the kernel.

Kernel Source Tree


Kernel Source Tree is the entire collection of kernel source codes, device drivers, and documentation. The tree contains directories with source code files, build instructions, and documentation.

Linux development is a very collaborative process, and the

Kernel Source Tree is an excellent resource for open-source developers who wish to develop new features, fix bugs, or improve performance. The

Kernel Source Tree is available to anyone who wishes to use it, and the changes made to the code are made available to everyone.


DKMS is an essential tool for any Linux user looking to manage their kernel modules and stay up-to-date on the latest kernel versions. Understanding the Linux kernel is crucial to appreciate how the DKMS framework facilitates the installation of kernel modules.


Kernel Source Tree is an excellent resource that enables everyone to contribute to the development of the Linux kernel and its associated features. Through this article, we have learned the importance of DKMS and how it benefits users, system administrators, and developers alike.

Linux Kernel Modules


Linux Kernel Modules are essentially chunks of code that can be loaded into or unloaded from the Linux Kernel. These modules can be categorized into two types: Built-in kernel modules and Loadable kernel modules.

Built-in modules are compiled into the kernel image at compile time and cannot be removed, whereas Loadable modules are compiled separately and can be added or removed from the kernel at runtime without the need for a system reboot. Kernel modules can perform various functions, such as adding new features or functionality to the kernel, managing device drivers, and file systems.

These modules have direct access to the kernel code and can perform actions that are not available to user-space applications, such as modifying the working of the operating system.

Functionality of Kernel Modules

Kernel modules have added functions that expand the functionality of the kernel. They can be used to add support for new hardware devices that do not have built-in kernel support.

They can also implement additional protocols or file systems, such as the popular ZFS file system. Kernel modules can even provide functionality that was not initially included in the kernel, such as virtualization.

One of the key benefits of kernel modules is that they operate with higher privileges than user-space applications. This allows them to carry out actions that would usually require administrative privileges.

Kernel modules can also remain loaded even after a system reboot, providing a persistent service to the running kernel. DKMS: The Solution

DKMS is a framework that offers a solution for managing kernel modules in Linux.

DKMS stands for Dynamic Kernel Module Support, and it provides a mechanism for building, installing, and replicating kernel modules across different Linux kernel versions. When configuring and compiling Linux kernels, it is often necessary to rebuild device driver source code files.

DKMS offers an automated way of building and installing device driver source files for all installed kernels on a system, thus reducing the time and effort required for such tasks. DKMS also integrates with the Kernel Source Tree, making it easier to manage modules across different kernels on a system.

Personal Experience with DKMS

I recently encountered an issue with the Wi-Fi adapter on my HP laptop running Ubuntu 18.04. After some research, I discovered that the low signal was due to a driver problem.

To fix the issue, I needed to rebuild and install the device driver using the make command. Unfortunately, I did not realize that this process needed to be repeated every time I upgraded my kernel, resulting in the same connectivity issues each time.

Thats when I came across DKMS. With DKMS, the device driver was automatically re-installed for each installed kernel after a system reboot.

This eliminated the need for me to continually rebuild and install the device driver every time I upgraded my kernel. All I had to do was add the device driver source code files to DKMS, and it took care of the rest.

Using DKMS, I was able to avoid manual recompilation and installation of the driver source code for each kernel version, which saved me a significant amount of time and effort. DKMS allowed me to focus on enjoying my laptop’s Wi-Fi connectivity rather than troubleshooting.

Using DKMS

Now that we understand the importance of DKMS and its benefits, let’s delve into using DKMS and how it works.

Requirements for DKMS

To use DKMS, the module source must be located in the /usr/src/ directory, and a dkms.conf file must be present in the module’s source root directory. DKMS can be installed on a Linux system using a package manager or by downloading and installing a package from the DKMS website.

Adding a Module


The first step in adding a module

to DKMS is to create a compressed archive of the module’s source code, usually named after the module. The archive is then placed in the /usr/src/ directory, and a dkms.conf file is created in the module source root directory.

The dkms.conf file provides DKMS with information about the module, such as the name, version, and what kernel version it supports. The file also includes instructions on how to build the module, any patches that need to be applied, and any dependencies required by the module.

Once the demo-v0.1.tar.gz and dkms.conf file have been added to DKMS, you can add the demo module by running command:


$ sudo dkms add -m demo -v 0.1


This command specifies the name of the module (demo) and the version (0.1). You can also specify the kernel version if the module supports only specific kernel versions.

Building a Module

After adding the module to DKMS, you can build the module using the command:


$ sudo dkms build -m demo -v 0.1


This command builds the module for the specified version of the kernel. DKMS will automatically detect the current kernel version and use it to build the module.

Installing a Module using DKMS

Once the module has been built successfully, you can install it using the command:


$ sudo dkms install -m demo -v 0.1


This command installs the module for the current running kernel version and all future kernel versions. Whenever you upgrade your kernel or change your hardware architecture, DKMS will automatically rebuild the module for the new environment without any manual intervention.

DKMS also allows for manually rebuilding the module for a specific kernel version using the command `sudo dkms install -m demo -v 0.1 -k x.x.x` where x.x.x is the version number of the kernel. What makes DKMS particularly useful is its ability to provide dynamically built kernel modules, even when there is a change in the kernel version or architecture.

This feature eliminates the need for manual module rebuilding, making it an efficient and easy-to-maintain framework for Linux users.


In conclusion, we have explored the significance of

Linux Kernel Modules and the benefits of using DKMS for module management in Linux. DKMS provides an efficient way of dynamically building kernel modules and eliminates the need for manual rebuilding of modules.

It simplifies the process of driver development and system administration, thus enhancing the overall efficiency of the system. By understanding what DKMS is, how it functions, and how to use it, you can take advantage of its benefits and simplify your experience with Linux kernel modules.

In summary, Dynamic Kernel Module Support (DKMS) is a crucial tool for managing kernel modules in Linux. DKMS offers automated ways of building, installing, and replicating kernel modules, thus reducing the time and effort required for such tasks.

With the functionality of kernel modules, DKMS enhances the efficiency and productivity of the system. The requirements to use DKMS, adding a module to DKMS, and installing a module using DKMS are straightforward.

By understanding the importance of DKMS, its functionality, and how to use it, users can enjoy the benefits of modular updates, ease of maintenance, and simplified driver development and system administration. DKMS is a robust framework that enables seamless management of kernel modules in Linux.

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