Compiling a kernel - no bzImage/vmlinuz produced


February 2019


4.7k time


I'm trying to compile a kernel (altered version of, found here I am doing the compilation on a emulated ARM system (qemu) (yes, I should probably cross-compile, but that's a different topic) running Ubuntu Core ( and the kernel (vmlinuz) from Ubuntu 11.04 (downloaded from

After running make bzImage, I look in the arch/arm/boot folder, and find only a file called zImage. I tried using this zImage instead of the vmlinuz I downloaded from in qemu, but that doesn't work, just shows a black screen. I guess zImage is not the same as bzImage, which is what I think vmlinuz (judging from different articles on the internet) is.

So, a few questions:

  1. Why doesn't make bzImage produce a bzImage/vmlinuz?
  2. Can I convert a vmlinux to a vmlinuz using for example mkimage (there are lots of guides on the opposite...)?


2 answers


The bzImage filename and make target was originally x86-specific (big zImage). Many of the bootloaders on architectures that are not equal to baremetal-x86 (SPARC, PPC, IA64, etc. and also Xen on *) directly take vmlinux (or one of its compressed forms, for example vmlinux.gz, aka zImage). I guess some maintainers just added bzImage as a make target name because they wanted to have the x86 madness on their arch as well.


I get the result you describe by asking qemu to emulate a different cpu than arm926ej-s. But booting versatilepb with the default cpu works. I've cross-compiled my kernel, and I compiled all the drivers into it (so I don't use initrd).

Just download 100MB arm-eabi toolchain from (it's free but they want your email, like the x86 Intel compiler). It has an installer, just say "next" until it's done, like on Windows. Then add the bin directory to your path:

export PATH=~/CodeSourcery/Sourcery_CodeBench_Lite_for_ARM_EABI/bin/:$PATH

Then go back to your kernel source dir and do

make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-none-eabi- menuconfig
make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-none-eabi- zImage modules

You can do

sudo make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-none-eabi- INSTALL_MOD_PATH=path_to_arm_root modules_install

if you can reach your ARM filesystem from the host. If you're using NFS root it's trivial, but if you're using a disk image you need to either:

  • use a raw disk image and kpartx (depends on your host kernel having dm-multipath) or
  • qemu-nbd which supports qcow (and depends on host kernel having network block device support)

To boot in qemu with disk you need the right drivers (SYM53C8XX SCSI). The versatile defconfig doesn't select those.