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Debian squeeze, distcc-pump and kernel builds

Compiling a new kernel on an Intel N270 Atom-based Linux system can be awfully slow, so setting up distcc or ccache begins to really make sense.

However, there’s something about ccache and the Linux build process that don’t play nicely, using it’s masquerade setup I didn’t get a single hit from its cache.

Distcc on the other hand, especially when distributed pre-processing too with the distcc-pump invocation has a dramatic effect on the time taken to produce a new kernel (it’s very easy to fire up a stripped down Debian virtual machine to use as an extra distcc node), and here’s how I setup this Debian Squeeze 6.0.1 installation :


Firstly, install the kernel source of your choice and distcc using apt :

# apt-get install distcc-pump linux-source-2.6.32

Secondly, fix the distcc-pump script as it looks for python modules in the version 2.5 path, whereas Debian Squeeze comes with 2.6 out of the box :

# vi +43 /usr/bin/distcc-pump

Thirdly, setup some hosts to distribute the compiling to, here I choose to limit my faster ‘compute’ node to eight simultaneous jobs, and just one job at a time for the slower Atom system (the cpp,lzo options tell distcc to push pre-processing jobs to this host also and compress the source files across the wire) :

# cat /etc/distcc/hosts
compute/8,cpp,lzo localhost/1

Finally, as we can’t pass a ‘-j8’ option to the make command to request eight threads of compiling at once, we set the environment variable CONCURRENCY_LEVEL accordingly, the distcc-pump startup creates a socket which distcc can then talk to, though it borks the PATH, so we change that back to put /usr/lib/distcc at the beginning for its masquerading as a compiler to work correctly, and thats all you need to do before compiling and installing your kernel the Debian way.

# eval `distcc-pump --startup`
# echo $PATH
# export PATH=/usr/lib/distcc:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin
# cd /usr/src/linux-source-2.6.32
# make menuconfig
# fakeroot make-kpkg --initrd --append-to-version=testbuild --revision=0.1 kernel_image
# distcc-pump --shutdown
# dpkg -i ../linux-image-2.6.32.testbuild_0.1_i386.deb

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