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13.2.2. Adding kernel modules to nodes

For most common hardware, the Linux kernel includes the device driver modules needed to use that hardware when the computer starts up. For some hardware, however, modules are not available in Linux. Therefore, you must find a way to provide those modules to each host computer. This procedure describes how to do that for nodes in an OpenShift Container Platform cluster.

When a kernel module is first deployed by following these instructions, the module is made available for the current kernel. If a new kernel is installed, the kmods-via-containers software will rebuild and deploy the module so a compatible version of that module is available with the new kernel.

The way that this feature is able to keep the module up to date on each node is by:

  • Adding a systemd service to each node that starts at boot time to detect if a new kernel has been installed and
  • If a new kernel is detected, the service rebuilds the module and installs it to the kernel

For information on the software needed for this procedure, see the kmods-via-containers github site.

A few important issues to keep in mind:

  • This procedure is Technology Preview.
  • Software tools and examples are not yet available in official RPM form and can only be obtained for now from unofficial sites noted in the procedure.
  • Third-party kernel modules you might add through these procedures are not supported by Red Hat.
  • In this procedure, the software needed to build your kernel modules is deployed in a RHEL 8 container. Keep in mind that modules are rebuilt automatically on each node when that node gets a new kernel. For that reason, each node needs access to a yum repository that contains the kernel and related packages needed to rebuild the module. That content is best provided with a valid RHEL subscription. Building and testing the kernel module container

Before deploying kernel modules to your OpenShift Container Platform cluster, you can test the process on a separate RHEL system. Gather the kernel module’s source code, the KVC framework, and the kmod-via-containers software. Then build and test the module. To do that on a RHEL 8 system, do the following:


  1. Register a RHEL 8 system:

    # subscription-manager register
  2. Attach a subscription to the RHEL 8 system:

    # subscription-manager attach --auto
  3. Install software that is required to build the software and container:

    # yum install podman make git -y
  4. Clone the kmod-via-containers repository:

    1. Create a folder for the repository:

      $ mkdir kmods; cd kmods
    2. Clone the repository:

      $ git clone
  5. Install a KVC framework instance on your RHEL 8 build host to test the module. This adds a kmods-via-container systemd service and loads it:

    1. Change to the kmod-via-containers directory:

      $ cd kmods-via-containers/
    2. Install the KVC framework instance:

      $ sudo make install
    3. Reload the systemd manager configuration:

      $ sudo systemctl daemon-reload
  6. Get the kernel module source code. The source code might be used to build a third-party module that you do not have control over, but is supplied by others. You will need content similar to the content shown in the kvc-simple-kmod example that can be cloned to your system as follows:

    $ cd .. ; git clone
  7. Edit the configuration file, simple-kmod.conf file, in this example, and change the name of the Dockerfile to Dockerfile.rhel:

    1. Change to the kvc-simple-kmod directory:

      $ cd kvc-simple-kmod
    2. Rename the Dockerfile:

      $ cat simple-kmod.conf

      Example Dockerfile

      KMOD_NAMES="simple-kmod simple-procfs-kmod"

  8. Create an instance of kmods-via-containers@.service for your kernel module, simple-kmod in this example:

    $ sudo make install
  9. Enable the kmods-via-containers@.service instance:

    $ sudo kmods-via-containers build simple-kmod $(uname -r)
  10. Enable and start the systemd service:

    1. Enable the service:

      $ sudo systemctl enable kmods-via-containers@simple-kmod.service
    2. Start the service:

      $ sudo systemctl start kmods-via-containers@simple-kmod.service
    3. Review the service status:

      $ sudo systemctl status kmods-via-containers@simple-kmod.service

      Example output

      ● kmods-via-containers@simple-kmod.service - Kmods Via Containers - simple-kmod
         Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/kmods-via-containers@.service;
                enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
         Active: active (exited) since Sun 2020-01-12 23:49:49 EST; 5s ago...

  11. To confirm that the kernel modules are loaded, use the lsmod command to list the modules:

    $ lsmod | grep simple_

    Example output

    simple_procfs_kmod     16384  0
    simple_kmod            16384  0

  12. Optional. Use other methods to check that the simple-kmod example is working:

    • Look for a "Hello world" message in the kernel ring buffer with dmesg:

      $ dmesg | grep 'Hello world'

      Example output

      [ 6420.761332] Hello world from simple_kmod.

    • Check the value of simple-procfs-kmod in /proc:

      $ sudo cat /proc/simple-procfs-kmod

      Example output

      simple-procfs-kmod number = 0

    • Run the spkut command to get more information from the module:

      $ sudo spkut 44

      Example output

      KVC: wrapper simple-kmod for 4.18.0-147.3.1.el8_1.x86_64
      Running userspace wrapper using the kernel module container...
      + podman run -i --rm --privileged
         simple-kmod-dd1a7d4:4.18.0-147.3.1.el8_1.x86_64 spkut 44
      simple-procfs-kmod number = 0
      simple-procfs-kmod number = 44

Going forward, when the system boots this service will check if a new kernel is running. If there is a new kernel, the service builds a new version of the kernel module and then loads it. If the module is already built, it will just load it.