kmidiff compares the binary Kernel Module Interfaces of two Linux Kernel trees. The binary KMI is the interface that the Linux Kernel exposes to its modules. The trees we are interested in here are the result of the build of the Linux Kernel source tree.

General approach

And example of how to build your kernel if you want to compare it to another one using kmidiff is:

git clone -b v4.5 git:// linux/v4.5
cd linux/v4.5
make allyesconfig all

Then install the modules into a directory, for instance, the build/modules sub-directory of the your kernel source tree:

mkdir build/modules
make modules_install INSTALL_MOD_DIR=build/modules

Then construct a list of interfaces exported by the kernel, that you want to compare:

cat > kmi-whitelist << EOF

Suppose you’ve done something similar for the v4.6 branch of the Linux kernel, you now have these two directories: linux/v4.5 and linux/v4.6. Their modules are present under the directories linux/v4.5/build/modules and linux/v4.6/build/modules.

To Comparing their KMI kmidiff needs to know where to find the vmlinux binaries and their associated modules. Here would be what the command line looks like:

kmidiff                                     \
  --kmi-whitelist  linux/v4.6/kmi-whitelist \
  --vmlinux1       linux/v4.5/vmlinux       \
  --vmlinux2       linux/v4.6/vmlinux       \
                   linux/v4.5/build/modules \


More generally, kmidiff is invoked under the form:

kmidiff [options] <first-modules-dir> <second-modules-dir>


By default, kmidiff compares all the interfaces (exported functions and variables) between the Kernel and its modules. In practice, though, users want to compare a subset of the those interfaces.

Users can then define a “white list” of the interfaces to compare. Such a white list is a just a file in the “INI” format that looks like:


Note that the name of the section (the name that is between the two brackets) of that INI file just has to end with the string “whitelist”. So you can define the name you want, for instance [kernel_46_x86_64_whitelist].

Then each line of that whitelist file is the name of an exported function or variable. Only those interfaces along with the types reachable from their signatures are going to be compared by kmidiff recursively.

Note that kmidiff compares the interfaces exported by the vmlinux binary and by the all of the compiled modules.


  • --help | -h

    Display a short help about the command and exit.

  • --version | -v

    Display the version of the program and exit.

  • --verbose

    Display some verbose messages while executing.

  • --debug-info-dir1 | --d1 <di-path1>

    For cases where the debug information for the binaries of the first Linux kernel is split out into separate files, tells kmidiff where to find those separate debug information files.

    Note that di-path must point to the root directory under which the debug information is arranged in a tree-like manner. Under Red Hat based systems, that directory is usually <root>/usr/lib/debug.

  • --debug-info-dir2 | --d2 <di-path2>

    Like --debug-info-dir1, this options tells kmidiff where to find the split debug information for the binaries of the second Linux kernel.

  • --vmlinux1 | --l1 <path-to-first-vmlinux>

    Sets the path to the first vmlinux binary to consider. This has to be the uncompressed vmlinux binary compiled with debug info.

  • --vmlinux2 | --l2 <path-to-first-vmlinux>

    Sets the path to the second vmlinux binary to consider. This has to be the uncompressed vmlinux binary compiled with debug info.

  • --kmi-whitelist | -w <path-to-interface-whitelist>

    Set the path to the white list of interfaces to compare while comparing the Kernel Module Interface of the first kernel against the one of the second kernel.

    If this option is not provided, all the exported interfaces of the two kernels are compared. That takes a lot of times and is not necessarily meaningful because many interface are probably meant to see their reachable types change.

    So please, make sure you always use this option unless you really know what you are doing.

  • --suppressions | --suppr <path-to-suppressions>

    Use a suppression specification file located at path-to-suppressions. Note that this option can appear multiple times on the command line. In that case, all of the provided suppression specification files are taken into account.

    Please note that, by default, if this option is not provided, then the default suppression specification files are loaded .

  • --impacted-interfaces | -i

    Tell what interfaces got impacted by each individual ABI change.

  • --full-impact | -f

    Emit a change report that shows the full impact of each change on exported interfaces. This is the default kind of report emitted by tools like abidiff or abipkgdiff.

  • --show-bytes

    Show sizes and offsets in bytes, not bits. This option is activated by default.

  • --show-bits

    Show sizes and offsets in bits, not bytes. By default, sizes and offsets are shown in bytes.

  • --show-hex

    Show sizes and offsets in hexadecimal base. This option is activated by default.

  • --show-dec

    Show sizes and offsets in decimal base.

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