Where do i obtain new kernels in ".rpm" format to update my RHEL5?
Is it only available to RHN subscribers?
Yes. However a kernel rpm from Centos should work. (Note - I have never tried this myself)
i downloaded latest kernel (linux-184.108.40.206.tar.bz2) from kernel.org.
#tar -xjvf linux-220.127.116.11.tar.bz2
after this i have a directory with lots of stuff in there. how do i use this directory?
You can then build a kernel RPM using the appropriate tools. A good starting place for details about how to do that is FedoraProject: Building a custom kernel. Note - unless you have a fast system, kernel builds can take a relatively long time to execute.
for example..made by openVz, centos, fedora, debian
can any of these be used to update any flavor of linux?
Yes, no and maybe. It depends on your level of knowledge and experience, your system and your OS enviroment above the kernel.
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