dkms is a cross distro mechanism for the building and maintenance of out-of-tree kernel modules.
(http://linux.dell.com/dkms/) The attached patch adds dkms support to the debian/ubuntu packaging infrastructure.
The current debian/ubuntu kernel module package uses module-assistant, which produces a deb which is tied to a specific kernel version, requiring the user to manually rebuild packages when the kernel is changed.
The dkms package allows modules for multiple kernel versions to be packaged together into a single deb. Once installed, the package contains triggers so that when a new kernel is installed for which no pre-built lustre modules exists, dkms will automatically build and install them. This reduces maintenance overhead on client machines.
dkms also works on redhat and sles; it should be possible to fold dkms support into the rpm build process.