CONFIG(5)                 NetBSD File Formats Manual                 CONFIG(5)

     config -- kernel configuration file syntax

     The kernel configuration file specifies the way the kernel should be com-
     piled by the rest of the toolchain.  It is processed by config(1) to pro-
     duce a number of files that will allow the user to compile a possibly
     customised kernel.  One compilation can issue several kernel binaries,
     with different root and dump devices configurations, or with full debug-
     ging information.

     This manual page is intended to serve as a complete reference of all
     aspects of the syntax used in the many files processed by config(1).  The
     novice user will prefer looking at the examples given in
     config.samples(5) in order to understand better how the default configu-
     ration can be changed, and how all of its elements interact with each

     The kernel configuration file actually contains the description of all
     the options, drivers and source files involved in the kernel compilation,
     and the logic that binds them.  The machine statement, usually found in
     the std.${MACHINE} file, hides this from the user by automatically
     including all the descriptive files spread all around the kernel source
     tree, the main one being conf/files.

     Thus, the kernel configuration file contains two parts: the description
     of the compilation options, and the selection of those options.  However,
     it begins with a small preamble that controls a couple of options of
     config(1), and a few statements belong to any of the two sections.

     The user controls the options selection part, which is located in a file
     commonly referenced as the main configuration file or simply the kernel
     configuration file.  The developer is responsible for describing the
     options in the relevant files from the kernel source tree.

     Statements are separated by new-line characters.  However, new-line char-
     acters can appear in the middle of a given statement, with the value of a
     space character.

     config(1) is a rather complicated piece of software that tries to comply
     with any configuration the user might think of.  Quite a few different
     objects are manipulated through the kernel configuration file, therefore
     some definitions are needed.

   Options and attributes
     The basic objects driving the kernel compilation are options, and are
     called attributes in some contexts.  An attribute usually refers to a
     feature a given piece of hardware might have.  However, the scope of an
     attribute is rather wide and can just be a place holder to group some
     source files together.

     There is a special class of attribute, named interface attribute, which
     represents a hook that allows a device to attach to (i.e., be a child of)
     another device.  An interface attribute has a (possibly empty) list of
     locators to match the actual location of a device.  For example, on a PCI
     bus, devices are located by a device number that is fixed by the wiring
     of the motherboard.  Additionally, each of those devices can appear
     through several interfaces named functions.  A single PCI device entity
     is a unique function number of a given device from the considered PCI
     bus.  Therefore, the locators for a pci(4) device are dev (for device),
     and function.

     A locator can either be a single integer value, or an array of integer
     values.  It can have a default value, in which case it can be wildcarded
     with a ``?'' in the options selection section of the configuration file.
     A single locator definition can take one of the following forms:
           1.   locator
           2.   locator = value
           3.   locator[length]
           4.   locator[length] = {value, ...}
     The variants that specify a default value can be enclosed into square
     brackets, in which case the locator will not have to be specified later
     in the options selection section of the configuration file.

     In the options selection section, the locators are specified when declar-
     ing an instance as a space-separated list of ``<locator> <value>'' where
     value can be the ``?'' wildcard if the locator allows it.

   Devices, instances and attachments
     The main benefit of the kernel configuration file is to allow the user to
     avoid compiling some drivers, and wire down the configuration of some
     others.  We have already seen that devices attach to each other through
     interface attributes, but not everything can attach to anything.  Fur-
     thermore, the user has the ability to define precise instances for the
     devices.  An instance is simply the reality of a device when it is probed
     and attached by the kernel.

     Each driver has a name for its devices.  It is called the base device
     name and is found as base in this documentation.  An instance is the con-
     catenation of a device name and a number.  In the kernel configuration
     file, instances can sometimes be wildcarded (i.e., the number is replaced
     by a ``*'' or a ``?'') in order to match all the possible instances of a

     The usual ``*'' becomes a ``?'' when the instance name is used as an
     attachment name.  In the options selection part of the kernel configura-
     tion files, an attachment is an interface attribute concatenated with a
     number or the wildcard ``?''.

     Some components of the kernel behave like a device although they don't
     have any actual reality in the hardware.  For example, this is the case
     for special network devices, such as tun(4) and tap(4).  They are inte-
     grated in the kernel as pseudo-devices, and can have several instances
     and even children, just like normal devices.

     The options description part of the kernel configuration file contains
     all the logic that ties the source files together, and it is done first
     through writing down dependencies between config(1) objects.

     In this documentation, the syntax for dependencies is a comma-separated
     list of options and attributes.

     For example, the use of an Ethernet network card requires the source
     files that handle the specificities of that protocol.  Therefore, all
     Ethernet network card drivers depend on the ether attribute.

     Finally, source file selection is possible through the help of condition-
     als, referred to as condition later in this documentation.  The syntax
     for those conditions uses well-known operators ( ``&'', ``|'' and ``!'')
     to combine options and attributes.

     version yyyymmdd
     Indicates the syntax version used by the rest of the file, or until the
     next version statement.  The argument is an ISO date.  A given config(1)
     binary might only be compatible with a limited range of version numbers.

     include path
     Includes a file.  The path is relative to the top of the kernel source
     tree, or the inner-most defined prefix.

     cinclude path
     Conditionally includes a file.  Contrary to include, it will not produce
     an error if the file does not exist.  The argument obeys the same rules
     as for include.

     prefix [path]
     If path is given, it pushes a new prefix for file, include and cinclude.
     prefix statements act like a stack, and an empty path argument has the
     latest prefix popped out.  The path argument is either absolute or rela-
     tive to the current defined prefix, which defaults to the top of the ker-
     nel source tree.

     buildprefix [path]
     If path is given, it pushes a new build prefix for file.  buildprefix
     statements act like a stack, and an empty path argument has the latest
     prefix popped out.  The path argument is relative to the current defined
     buildprefix, which defaults to the top of the kernel build directory.
     When prefix is either absolute or relative out of the kernel source tree
     (../), buildprefix must be defined.

     ifdef attribute

     ifndef attribute

     elifdef attribute

     elifndef attribute


     Conditionally interprets portions of the current file.  Those statements
     depend on whether or not the given attribute has been previously defined,
     through define or any other statement that implicitely defines attributes
     such as device.

     In addition to include, cinclude, and prefix, the preamble may contain
     the following optional statements:

     build path
     Defines the build directory for the compilation of the kernel.  It
     replaces the default of ../compile/<config-file> and is superseded by the
     -b parameter of config(1).

     source path
     Defines the directory in which the source of the kernel lives.  It
     replaces the default of ../../../.. and is superseded by the -s parameter
     of config(1).

     The user will not usually have to use descriptive statements, as they are
     meant for the developer to tie a given piece of code to the rest of the
     kernel.  However, third parties may provide sources to add to the kernel
     compilation, and the logic that binds them to the NetBSD kernel will have
     to be added to the user-edited configuration file.

     devclass class
     Defines a special attribute, named device class.  A given device cannot
     belong to more than one device class.  config(1) translates that property
     by the rule that a device cannot depend on more than one device class,
     and will properly fill the configuration information file it generates
     according to that value.

     defflag [file] option [option [...]] [: dependencies]
     Defines a boolean option, that can either be selected or be un-selected
     by the user with the options statement.  The optional file argument names
     a header file that will contain the C pre-processor definition for the
     option.  If no file name is given, it will default to opt_<option>.h.
     config(1) will always create the header file, but if the user choose not
     to select the option, it will be empty.  Several options can be combined
     in one header file, for convenience.  The header file is created in the
     compilation directory, making them directly accessible by source files.

     defparam [file] option [= value] [:= lint-value] [option [...]] [:
     Behaves like defflag, except the defined option must have a value.  Such
     options are not typed: they can have either a numeric or a string value.
     If a value is specified, it is treated as a default, and the option is
     always defined in the corresponding header file.  If a lint-value is
     specified, config(1) will use it as a value when generating a lint con-
     figuration with -L, and ignore it in all other cases.

     deffs name [name [...]]
     Defines a file-system name.  It is no more than a regular option, as
     defined by defflag, but it allows the user to select the file-systems to
     be compiled in the kernel with the file-system statement instead of the
     options statement.

     obsolete defflag [file] option [option [...]]

     obsolete defparam [file] option [option [...]]
     Those two statements are identical and mark the listed option names as
     obsolete.  If the user selects one of the listed options in the kernel
     configuration file, config(1) will emit a warning and ignore the option.
     The optional file argument should match the original definition of the

     define attribute [{locators}] [: dependencies]
     Defines an attribute.  The locators list is optional, and can be empty.
     If the pair of brackets are present, the locator list is defined and the
     declared attribute becomes an interface attribute, on which devices can

     maxpartitions number
     Defines the maximum number of partitions the disklabels for the consid-
     ered architecture can hold.  This statement cannot be repeated and should
     only appear in the std.${ARCH} file.

     maxusers min default max
     Indicates the range of values that will later be accepted by config(1)
     for the maxusers statement in the options selection part of the configu-
     ration file.  In case the user doesn't include a maxusers statement in
     the configuration file, the value default is used instead.

     device base [{locators}] [: dependencies]
     Declares a device of name base.  The optional list of locators, which can
     also be empty, indicates the device can have children attached directly
     to it.  Internally, that means base becomes an interface attribute.  For
     every device the user selects, config(1) will add the matching
     CFDRIVER_DECL() statement to ioconf.c.  However, it is the responsibility
     of the developer to add the relevant CFATTACH_DECL() line to the source
     of the device's driver.

     attach base at attr [, attr [, ...]] [with name] [: dependencies]
     All devices must have at least one declared attachment.  Otherwise, they
     will never be found in the autoconf(9) process.  The attributes on which
     an instance of device base can attach must be interface attributes, or
     root in case the device is at the top-level, which is usually the case of
     e.g., mainbus(4).  The instances of device base will later attach to one
     interface attribute from the specified list.

     Different attach definitions must use different names using the with
     option.  It is then possible to use the associated name as a conditional
     element in a file statement.

     defpseudo base [: dependencies]
     Declares a pseudo-device.  Those devices don't need an attachment to be
     declared, they will always be attached if they were selected by the user.

     defpseudodev base [{locators}] [: dependencies]
     Declares a pseudo-device.  Those devices don't need an attachment to be
     declared, they will always be attached if they were selected by the user.
     This declaration should be used if the pseudodevice uses autoconf(9)
     functions to manage its instances or attach children.  As for normal
     devices, an optional list of locators can be defined, which implies an
     interface attribute named base, allowing the pseudo-device to have chil-
     dren.  Interface attributes can also be defined in the dependencies list.

     file path [condition] [needs-count] [needs-flag] [compile with rule]
     Adds a source file to the list of files to be compiled into the kernel,
     if the conditions are met.  The needs-count option indicates that the
     source file requires the number of all the countable objects it depends
     on (through the conditions) to be defined.  It is usually used for
     pseudo-devices whose number can be specified by the user in the
     pseudo-device statement.  Countable objects are devices and pseudo-
     devices.  For the former, the count is the number of declared instances.
     For the latter, it is the number specified by the user, defaulting to 1.
     The needs-flag options requires that a flag indicating the selection of
     an attribute to be created, but the precise number isn't needed.  This is
     useful for source files that only partly depend on the attribute, and
     thus need to add pre-processor statements for it.

     needs-count and needs-flag both produce a header file for each of the
     considered attributes.  The name of that file is <attribute>.h.  It con-
     tains one pre-processor definition of NATTRIBUTE set to 0 if the
     attribute was not selected by the user, or to the number of instances of
     the device in the needs-count case, or to 1 in all the other cases.

     The rule argument specifies the make(1) rule that will be used to compile
     the source file.  If it is not given, the default rule for the type of
     the file will be used.  For a given file, there can be more than one file
     statement, but not from the same configuration source file, and all later
     statements can only specify a rule argument, and no conditions or flags.
     This is useful when a file needs special consideration from one particu-
     lar architecture.

     The path is relative to the top of the kernel source tree, or the inner-
     most defined prefix.

     object path [condition]
     Adds an object file to the list of objects to be linked into the kernel,
     if the conditions are met.  This is most useful for third parties provid-
     ing binary-only components.

     The path is relative to the top of the kernel source tree, or the inner-
     most defined prefix.

     device-major base [char number] [block number] [condition]
     Associates a major device number with the device base.  A device can be a
     character device, a block device, or both, and can have different numbers
     for each.  The condition indicates when the relevant line should be added
     to ioconf.c, and works just like the file statement.

     machine machine [arch [subarch [...]]]
     The machine statement should appear first in the kernel configuration
     file, with the exception of context-neutral statements.  It makes
     config(1) include, in that order, the following files:
           1.   conf/files
           2.   arch/${ARCH}/conf/files.${ARCH} if defined
           3.   arch/${SUBARCH}/conf/files.${SUBARCH} for each defined sub-
           4.   arch/${MACHINE}/conf/files.${MACHINE}
     It also defines an attribute for the machine, the arch and each of the

     package path
     Simpler version of:

           prefix PATH
           include FILE

     ident string
     Defines the identification string of the kernel.  This statement is
     optional, and the name of the main configuration file will be used as a
     default value.

     no ident
     Deletes any pre-existing identification string of the kernel.

     maxusers number
     Despite its name, this statement does not limit the maximum number of
     users on the system.  There is no such limit, actually.  However, some
     kernel structures need to be adjusted to accommodate with more users, and
     the maxusers parameter is used for example to compute the maximum number
     of opened files, and the maximum number of processes, which itself is
     used to adjust a few other parameters.

     options name [= value] [, name [= value], ...]
     Selects the option name, affecting it a value if the options requires it
     (see the defflag and defparam statements).

     If the option has not been declared in the options description part of
     the kernel configuration machinery, it will be added as a pre-processor
     definition when source files are compiled.  If the option has previously
     been selected, the statement produces a warning, and the new options
     statement replaces the original.

     no options name [, name [, ...]]
     Un-selects the option name.  If option name has not previously been
     selected, the statement produces a warning.

     file-system name [, name [, ...]]
     Adds support for all the listed file-systems.

     no file-system name [, name [, ...]]
     Removes support for all the listed file-systems.

     config name root on device [type fs] [dumps on device]
     Adds name to the list of kernel binaries to compile from the configura-
     tion file, using the specified root and dump devices information.

     Any of the device and fs parameters can be wildcarded with ``?'' to let
     the kernel automatically discover those values.

     At least one config statement must appear in the configuration file.

     no config name
     Removes name from the list of kernel binaries to compile from the config-
     uration file.

     instance at attachment [locator specification]
     Configures an instance of a device attaching at a specific location in
     the device tree.  All parameters can be wildcarded, with a ``*'' for
     instance, and a ``?'' for attachment and the locators.

     no instance [at attachment]
     Removes the previously configured instances of a device that exactly
     match the given specification.  If two instances differ only by their
     locators, both are removed.  If no attachment is specified, all matching
     instances are removed.

     If instance is a bare device name, all the previously defined instances
     of that device, regardless of the numbers or wildcard, are removed.

     no device at attachment
     Removes all previously configured instances that attach to the specified
     attachment.  If attachment ends with a ``*'', all instances attaching to
     all the variants of attachment are removed.

     pseudo-device device [number]
     Adds support for the specified pseudo-device.  The parameter number is
     passed to the initialisation function of the pseudo-device, usually to
     indicate how many instances should be created.  It defaults to 1, and
     some pseudo-devices ignore that parameter.

     no pseudo-device name
     Removes support for the specified pseudo-device.

     makeoptions name=value [, name+=value [, ...]]
     Adds or appends to a definition in the generated Makefile.  A definition
     cannot be overriden, it must be removed before it can be added again.
     Optionally, if an option makeoptions_<name> is defined with defparam, the
     value is defined as an option too.

     makeoptions condition name+=value [, condition name+=value]
     Appends to a definition in the generated Makefile.

     no makeoptions name [, name [, ...]]
     Removes one or more definitions from the generated Makefile.

     select name
     Adds the specified attribute and its dependencies.

     no select name
     Removes the specified attribute and all the attributes which depend on

     The files are relative to the kernel source top directory (e.g.,

     arch/${MACHINE}/conf/std.${MACHINE}  Standard configuration for the given
                                          architecture.  This file should
                                          always be included.

     arch/${MACHINE}/conf/GENERIC         Standard options selection file for
                                          the given architecture.  Users
                                          should always start changing their
                                          main kernel configuration file by
                                          editing a copy of this file.

     conf/files                           Main options description file.

     config.samples(5) uses several examples to cover all the practical
     aspects of writing or modifying a kernel configuration file.

     config(1), options(4), config.samples(5), config(9)

NetBSD 7.0                     September 1, 2015                    NetBSD 7.0

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