How to Install Linux Kernel Headers on Rocky Linux

Understanding Linux kernel headers is essential for Rocky Linux users, especially those delving into software development or system customization. These headers provide the necessary files for compiling kernel modules, ensuring smooth integration and compatibility with the system.

Key Features and Benefits of Linux Kernel Headers:

  • Compatibility: Vital for compiling software that interacts directly with the kernel, ensuring smooth operation and avoiding conflicts.
  • Development: Essential for developers working on kernel modules or custom drivers, enabling them to build and test their code against the current kernel version.
  • System Updates: Helps in maintaining compatibility when updating or upgrading the system kernel, reducing the risk of errors and incompatibilities.
  • Performance: Enhances system performance by allowing optimized software and drivers to be compiled directly for the kernel in use.

Linux kernel headers serve as a bridge between your software and the core of the operating system. Without these headers, compiling certain software and drivers would be impossible, leading to limited functionality and potential system instability.

With the introduction out of the way, let’s explore how to install the necessary software on Rocky Linux using terminal command.

Step 1: Update Rocky Linux Before Linux Kernel Headers Installation

Before installing kernel headers, updating your Rocky Linux system is imperative. This ensures that your system, especially the Linux Kernel, is up-to-date. If the update includes kernel packages, a system restart is necessary to apply these updates. Use the following command to update your system:

sudo dnf upgrade --refresh

This command ensures that all the packages, including the kernel, are updated to the latest version, thereby maintaining system stability and security.

Step 2: Determining Your Current Linux Kernel Version

Before installing kernel headers, identifying the version of the Linux Kernel your system is currently running is essential. This step ensures compatibility between your system’s kernel and the headers you are about to install. Run the following command in your terminal to check your kernel version:

uname -r

This command outputs the kernel version your system is actively using. It is important to note this version, as it will be a reference point in the installation process.

For instance, the output on my machine was:


In this example, “5.14.0-162.6.1.el9_1.0.1.x86_64” indicates the specific kernel version running on the system. Knowing this version is vital to ensure that you install the correct and compatible kernel headers for your system.

Step 3: Installing the Linux Kernel Headers

After determining your current Linux Kernel version, the next step is to install the kernel headers. These headers are crucial for system tasks such as developing kernel modules and ensuring software compatibility. On Rocky Linux, you can install the kernel headers tailored to your specific kernel version with the following command:

sudo dnf install kernel-headers-$(uname -r)

This command dynamically fetches and installs the kernel headers that correspond to your system’s current kernel version, as identified by uname -r. This ensures that the headers are perfectly matched with your kernel, maintaining system integrity and functionality.

Optional: Rebooting Your System

After installing kernel headers or any kernel-related packages, it’s a good practice to reboot your system. This step ensures all changes are correctly applied and the system runs with the latest configurations.

To reboot your system, use the command:


Rebooting is particularly important when there are significant kernel updates or changes, as it allows the system to start fresh with the new configurations. This step contributes to the stability and reliability of your system, especially after kernel modifications.

Verifying the Installation of Linux Kernel Headers

Confirming Kernel Headers Installation

Once you have installed the kernel headers on your Rocky Linux system, verifying the successful installation is crucial. This verification ensures your system has the correct headers corresponding to its kernel version. To confirm the installation, execute the following command:

sudo dnf list installed | grep kernel-headers

This command lists all the kernel header packages installed on your system. The output should include the kernel headers package that you recently installed. It filters the extensive list to show only the items related to kernel headers, simplifying the verification process.

Example of Successful Installation Output

A successful installation is indicated by the appearance of the kernel headers package in the command output. An example of such output is:

kernel-headers.x86_64                            5.14.0-162.6.1.el9_1.0.1            @appstream                                     

In this example, kernel-headers.x86_64 5.14.0-162.6.1.el9_1.0.1 @appstream signifies that the kernel headers for the specific version 5.14.0-162.6.1.el9_1.0.1 are installed on the system. This output confirms that your system is now equipped with the necessary headers, which are crucial for tasks such as module compilation and kernel customization.


In this guide, we’ve successfully navigated the essential steps to installing Linux Kernel Headers on Rocky Linux. From updating your system and verifying your current kernel version to the actual installation and subsequent verification of the kernel headers, each step was geared towards enhancing your system’s compatibility and performance. It’s always recommended that your system be updated and you check the kernel version regularly for critical updates.

Joshua James
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