I have a vmlinux file with no source code, header files or any other peripherals.
What's the easiest way to convert it into a bootable zImage?
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Technically, a vmlinuz (or zImage) is a packed version of the kernel (e.g. gzip or bzip2) + an extractor. If you have a extractor from a "sufficient similar kernel" (same architecture and not too different kernel version) you can try to compress the vmlinux and glue the extractor in front of it. Some more information can be found e.g. under http://jeffbastian.blogspot.com/2012/11/extract-vmlinux-with-power-of-command.html .