Kernel developers frequently request bug reporters test on a different kernel. Sometimes this is a full new version. Other times it’s a test build with a patch. This article shows you how to install a kernel someone has built elsewhere.

The kernel build process produces a long list of RPM packages. The most important ones are kernel, kernel-core, and kernel-modules:

  • The kernel package doesn’t contain any files; its only purpose is to bring in the other two packages.
  • kernel-core contains the files that end up in /boot and a set of kernel modules needed for core functionality.
  • kernel-modules contains the rest of the modules that are installed with the system. (There is a kernel-modules-extra package as well which contains drivers for rare hardware.)

A developer who requests testing — such as for a bugfix or other change — typically gives a link to a koji build. Koji is the build system Fedora developers use to build software for inclusion into Fedora.

A build only for testing is called a scratch build. These scratch builds are only retained for a short time. After that, the Koji system collects them as garbage and gets rid of them. A scratch build isn’t signed, so to install it you need to turn off secure boot if it’s turned on. A koji build produces binaries for multiple architectures, as seen below.

A screenshot of a build of the Kernel in Koji

A build of the Kernel in Koji

Get and install the kernel

Find the architecture you want to test (typically x86_64) and click the download link next to the kernel, kernel-core, and kernel-modules packages. Once the RPMs are downloaded, you can install them on the command line using dnf with sudo:

sudo dnf install ./path/to/kernel-4.10.8-100.fc24.x86_64.rpm ./path/to/kernel-core-4.10.8-100.fc24.x86_64.rpm ./path/to/kernel-modules-4.10.8-100.fc24.x86_64.rpm

You can then reboot into your new kernel. If you want to remove it after testing, make sure to remove all three packages kernel, kernel-core, and kernel-modules to fully remove the files.