I am using Arch Linux with a custom kernel stored as /boot/vmlinuz-linux1. Some features I would like to have don't work in it, but there is also a /boot/vmlinuz-linux kernel where those features work. How can I retrieve the .config kernel configuration file from the second vmlinuz file in order to compare it with the configuration of the first kernel in a text editor?


As far as I'm aware, extracting the .config configuration file from a kernel is possible only if you've compiled it with the configuration option CONFIG_IKCONFIG (available in the configuration menu as entry General setup > Kernel .config support). Here is the documentation of that configuration option:


This option enables the complete Linux kernel ".config" file
contents to be saved in the kernel. It provides documentation
of which kernel options are used in a running kernel or in an
on-disk kernel.  This information can be extracted from the kernel
image file with the script scripts/extract-ikconfig and used as
input to rebuild the current kernel or to build another kernel.
It can also be extracted from a running kernel by reading
/proc/config.gz if enabled (below).

The last sentence refers to an additional configuration option CONFIG_IKCONFIG_PROC which gives you access to the configuration of a running kernel through a file in the proc pseudo-filesystem.

If your kernel has not been compiled with CONFIG_IKCONFIG, I don't think you can retrieve its configuration easily. Otherwise, it's as simple as

gunzip /proc/config.gz > .config

if CONFIG_IKCONFIG_PROC has been selected and you're currently running your /boot/vmlinuz-linux kernel, or

scripts/extract-ikconfig /boot/vmlinuz-linux

The script extract-ikconfig is the one available along with the kernel sources, in folder scripts.

  • Yes, I have this option enabled. So I need to extract /proc/config.gz? – Dmytro Osaulenko Jul 25 '17 at 15:13
  • Yes, if there is a file /proc/config.gz, you can do gunzip /proc/config.gz > .config to retrieve the configuration. – lgeorget Jul 25 '17 at 15:14
  • Ok, I extracted it, but it seems to be the same .config file I already have from vmlinuz-linux1... – Dmytro Osaulenko Jul 25 '17 at 15:19
  • 1
    Otherwise you can use the script extract-ikconfig on vmlinuz-linux. The script is in the folder scripts in the kernel source and is also available here: stuff.mit.edu/afs/sipb/contrib/linux/scripts/extract-ikconfig. – lgeorget Jul 25 '17 at 15:22
  • 1
    Ok. I've got this .config after rebooting with second kernel. Perfect! Thank you – Dmytro Osaulenko Jul 25 '17 at 15:33

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