#linux #kernel-module #fedora #podman #silverblue

bin+lib podmod

Containerized build system for kernel modules on Fedora

10 releases

0.4.3 Nov 15, 2022
0.4.2 Nov 11, 2022
0.4.0 Oct 28, 2022
0.3.6 Oct 27, 2022

#2537 in Command line utilities

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podmod provides a containerized method for building kernel modules on Fedora, mainly targeting immutable operating systems such as Silverblue / Kinoite and CoreOS.

podmod builds kernel modules from source inside a Podman container and allows you to load it without modifying any part of the filesystem on the host. It provides a Rust frontend that can sources the build steps of a module from a Containerfile, and then load and unload the module. The process is:

  • You call podmod build with the name of the kernel module.
  • podmod reads the configuration file (default: /etc/podmod.conf) for build and kernel arguments.
  • podmod searches share/modules/ for the module and builds it as part of a new container image.
  • You can then load or unload the module with podmod load or podmod unload. podmod will call insmod(8) or rmmod(8) from inside the container to load or unload the module on the host.

Interested? Here's how to get started.


Isn't this super hacky?

Not really. Containers aren't virtual machines, where the guest operating system has its own kernel, gets assigned its own memory space to manage, and may be completely unaware that it's being virtualized. Instead, container engines such as Podman or Docker use Linux namespaces to make a sort of chroot(1) with an isolated process and network space. Otherwise, its no different from running the same command directly on the host. The kernel module is built the same way, and the kernel is the same inside and outside the container.

Building kernel modules this way is not a brand-new concept, either. jdoss/atomic-wireguard takes the same approach. There's even an article on building kernel modules with Podman on the Project Atomic website (which is now deprecated in favor of CoreOS). However, the usual restrictions for kernel modules still apply. Mainly, the module needs to be built for a specific kernel version, and must be rebuilt with every update.

Will this work on other editions of Fedora?

This has only been tested on Silverblue / Kinoite 36, but will theoretically work on other editions as well, including Workstation, Server, and CoreOS. Think of it as an alternative to dkms(8), for cases where the module in question is either not packages for Fedora yet, or when the root filesystem is not writable.

Wil this work on distributions other than Fedora?

No. The modules are built against Fedora's kernel packages from Koji and are incompatible with other distributions. This restriction also excludes distributions that are downstream from Fedora, such as CentOS and RHEL.

You are welcome to adapt podmod to use different Containerfiles targeting other distributions, though!

Getting started


Installation instructions, as well as instructions for building podmod from source, can be found here.

Basic Usage

To get help on using podmod, run:

# podmod --help

You may also refer to the manpage podmod(8).

To build a kernel module, run:

$ podmod build -m <MODULE>

Afterwards, you can load it with:

$ podmod load -m <MODULE>

podmod also ships with a systemd service file to load and unload a module at boot time:

$ systemctl enable podmod@<MODULE>.service

Note: The module must have already been built manually on the system using podmod build. Otherwise, the unit will fail.


This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see https://www.gnu.org/licenses/.


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