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Menuconfig gives the Linux kernel configuration a long needed face
lift. Featuring text based color menus and dialogs, it does not
require X Windows. With this utility you can easily select a kernel
option to modify without sifting through 100 other options.
Some kernel features may be built directly into the kernel.
Some may be made into loadable runtime modules. Some features
may be completely removed altogether. There are also certain
kernel parameters which are not really features, but must be
entered in as decimal or hexadecimal numbers or possibly text.
Menu items beginning with [*], <M> or [ ] represent features
configured to be built in, modularized or removed respectively.
Pointed brackets <> represent module capable features.
To change any of these features, highlight it with the cursor
keys and press <Y> to build it in, <M> to make it a module or
<N> to removed it. You may also press the <Space Bar> to cycle
through the available options (ie. Y->N->M->Y).
Items beginning with numbers or other text within parenthesis can
be changed by highlighting the item and pressing <Enter>. Then
enter the new parameter into the dialog box that pops up.
Some additional keyboard hints:
o Use the Up/Down arrow keys (cursor keys) to highlight the item
you wish to change or submenu wish to select and press <Enter>.
Submenus are designated by "--->".
Shortcut: Press the option's highlighted letter (hotkey).
Pressing a hotkey more than once will sequence
through all visible items which use that hotkey.
You may also use the <PAGE UP> and <PAGE DOWN> keys to scroll
unseen options into view.
o To exit a menu use the cursor keys to highlight the <Exit> button
and press <ENTER>.
Shortcut: Press <ESC><ESC> or <E> or <X> if there is no hotkey
using those letters. You may press a single <ESC>, but
there is a delayed response which you may find annoying.
Also, the <TAB> and cursor keys will cycle between <Select>,
<Exit> and <Help>
o To get help with an item, use the cursor keys to highlight <Help>
and Press <ENTER>.
Shortcut: Press <H> or <?>.
Radiolists (Choice lists)
o Use the cursor keys to select the option you wish to set and press
<S> or the <SPACE BAR>.
Shortcut: Press the first letter of the option you wish to set then
press <S> or <SPACE BAR>.
o To see available help for the item, use the cursor keys to highlight
<Help> and Press <ENTER>.
Shortcut: Press <H> or <?>.
Also, the <TAB> and cursor keys will cycle between <Select> and
Data Entry
o Enter the requested information and press <ENTER>
If you are entering hexadecimal values, it is not necessary to
add the '0x' prefix to the entry.
o For help, use the <TAB> or cursor keys to highlight the help option
and press <ENTER>. You can try <TAB><H> as well.
Text Box (Help Window)
o Use the cursor keys to scroll up/down/left/right. The VI editor
keys h,j,k,l function here as do <SPACE BAR> and <B> for those
who are familiar with less and lynx.
o Press <E>, <X>, <Enter> or <Esc><Esc> to exit.
Final Acceptance
With the exception of the old style sound configuration,
YOUR CHANGES ARE NOT FINAL. You will be given a last chance to
confirm them prior to exiting Menuconfig.
If Menuconfig quits with an error while saving your configuration,
you may look in the file /usr/src/linux/.menuconfig.log for
information which may help you determine the cause.
Alternate Configuration Files
Menuconfig supports the use of alternate configuration files for
those who, for various reasons, find it necessary to switch
between different kernel configurations.
At the end of the main menu you will find two options. One is
for saving the current configuration to a file of your choosing.
The other option is for loading a previously saved alternate
Even if you don't use alternate configuration files, but you
find during a Menuconfig session that you have completely messed
up your settings, you may use the "Load Alternate..." option to
restore your previously saved settings from ".config" without
restarting Menuconfig.
Other information
The windowing utility, lxdialog, will only be rebuilt if your kernel
source tree is fresh, or changes are patched into it via a kernel
patch or you do 'make mrproper'. If changes to lxdialog are patched
in, most likely the rebuild time will be short. You may force a
complete rebuild of lxdialog by changing to it's directory and doing
'make clean all'
If you use Menuconfig in an XTERM window make sure you have your
$TERM variable set to point to a xterm definition which supports color.
Otherwise, Menuconfig will look rather bad. Menuconfig will not
display correctly in a RXVT window because rxvt displays only one
intensity of color, bright.
Menuconfig will display larger menus on screens or xterms which are
set to display more than the standard 25 row by 80 column geometry.
In order for this to work, the "stty size" command must be able to
display the screen's current row and column geometry. I STRONGLY
RECOMMEND that you make sure you do NOT have the shell variables
LINES and COLUMNS exported into your environment. Some distributions
export those variables via /etc/profile. Some ncurses programs can
become confused when those variables (LINES & COLUMNS) don't reflect
the true screen size.
NOTICE: lxdialog requires the ncurses libraries to compile. If you
don't already have ncurses you really should get it.
The makefile for lxdialog attempts to find your ncurses
header file. Although it should find the header for older
versions of ncurses, it is probably a good idea to get the
latest ncurses anyway.
If you have upgraded your ncurses libraries, MAKE SURE you
remove the old ncurses header files. If you don't you
will most certainly get a segmentation fault.
WARNING: It is not recommended that you change any defines in
lxdialog's header files. If you have a grayscale display and
are brave, you may tinker with color.h to tune the colors to
your preference.
There have been some compatibility problems reported with
older versions of bash and sed. I am trying to work these
out but it is preferable that you upgrade those utilities.
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If you prefer to have all of the kernel options listed in a single
menu, rather than the default multimenu hierarchy, you may edit the
Menuconfig script and change the line "single_menu_mode=" to
This mode is not recommended unless you have a fairly fast machine.
The windowing support utility (lxdialog) is a VERY modified version of
the dialog utility by Savio Lam <>. Although lxdialog
is significantly different from dialog, I have left Savio's copyrights
intact. Please DO NOT contact Savio with questions about lxdialog.
He will not be able to assist.
William Roadcap was the original author of Menuconfig.
Michael Elizabeth Chastain <> is the current maintainer.