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How to Find Configuration Options Quickly in Make Menuconfig

If you’ve ever compiled the Linux kernel, you’ll know make menuconfig is the command line used to unset/set options, disable/enable modules in order to match your hardware and requirements. I used to simply browse in the menu to find the option, and just remember the correct path. Sometimes I just looked at .config to locate the option I needed, and the possible path in make menuconfig. The first time you use a new option it can be time consuming. But I’ve just found there is a better way via Google+.

“/” is actually available in make menuconfig, just like it is in vi/vim. If you want to enable NFS server in your kernel, press “/”, and search for NFSD.


It will show the list of results with “NFSD” strings. NFS server support is right at the top, and the path is shown to be File Systems->Network File Systems. The neat thing is you don’t have to remember or note the path, as you can just press the number between parenthesis on the left of the option location, in this case (1), and it will take you directly there.


But what if you’re searching for a string with lots of results such as PCI. The actual CONFIG_PCI is just buried in the search results. The solution is to use regular expressions. If you just want to find “CONFIG_PCI”, press “/” for a search, and “^PCI$” to find the exact match.


Great! Press “1” to go to the option, and enable PCI in your kernel. You can use other regexps as well.

  1. Johny007
    May 23rd, 2013 at 18:18 | #1

    Thank you, I need this.

  2. pamplina
    May 23rd, 2013 at 18:55 | #2

    Wow! I was crazy so many times looking for the options… and it was so simple! Thanks for the tip.
    One correction: the regexp example it should be “^PCI$” instead “$PCI^”.

  3. May 23rd, 2013 at 19:31 | #3

    Sorry, I typed it wrong. Fixed!

  4. cheng
    May 27th, 2013 at 13:17 | #4

    Wow! This is very handy. I use to be searching high and low for the configurations. Thanks a lot.

  5. Paul
    May 30th, 2013 at 05:42 | #5

    I personally remember that by heart from old good kernel hacking times. But yeah, there’s indeed a lot of hacking lore which modern crap like lowy JavaScript squeezes from cache of your mind. Some time ago, I sit and decided to write down few tips and tricks for Linux/Android hacking, maybe someone else will find it useful too: https://sourceforge.net/apps/trac/linux-h4000/wiki/LinuxAndroidBlackboxHackingFaq

  6. July 28th, 2015 at 14:10 | #6

    Thanks v. much for this tip! But I noticed when using the Buildroot menuconfig, it doesn’t have the number in parenthesis for you to ‘jump’ to it.

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