Build the Linux Kernel and Busybox and run them on QEMU

This post is a condensed version of Mitchel Humphery's excellent post @ link. Like Mitchel's post, this post gives step-by-step instructions for building a minimal custom Linux kernel, creating a busybox based userland and booting it on an emulator (QEMU). This post just builds the allnoconfig + custom config; the smallest config.


  • T460

  • Oracle VM VirtualBox Version 5.1.30 r118389 (Qt5.6.2) running on Windows 7 SP1

  • VM's configured with 4 GB of RAM and a 64 GB disk running Ubuntu 16.04.2.

If you need help setting up this environment click here (just install 16.04.02 instead of 16.04.01).


1. Open a terminal

2. Get the required packages:

You'll see something like:

3. Create a workspace:

4. Download and extract the Linux kernel and BusyBox

You'll see something like:

5. Create a minimal userland with Busybox

You'll see something like:

6. Enable static linking in Busybox

6.1. Press enter on Busybox Settings --->

6.2. Press the down arrow 26 times until you hit [ ] Build BusyBox as a static binary (no shared libs)

6.3 Press Y

You should see:

6.4 Select Exit twice and hit Enter while the cursor is on <Yes> to save

7. Build Busybox

You should see something like:

8. Build the directory structure of the initramfs

You should see something like:

9. Create init and make it executable

9.1 Type:

9.2 Paste this in (press i)

9.3 Type :w to save, then :q to quit

10. Make init executable:

11. Create the initramfs:

12. Config the Linux kernel with the minimal config

You'll see something like:

13. Turn options on for QEMU:

14. Turn these options on:

This writes .config to $TOP/obj/linux-x86-allnoconfig

Use ls -a $TOP/obj/linux-x86-allnoconfig to check

.config is also at [link]

15. Make the kernel:

You should see something like:

16. Launch the Linux kernel binary & initrd in QEMU:

You should see something like:

17. Type Control-a x to quit QEMU

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