Linux kernel Info

This is just a general information about the linux kernel

One amazing thing about Linux is that the same code base is used for a different range of computing systems, from supercomputers to very tiny embedded devices. If you stop for a second and think about it, Linux is probably the only OS that has a unified code base. For example, Microsoft and Apple use different kernels for their desktop and mobile OS versions (Windows NT/Windows CE and OS X/iOS). Two of the reasons this is possible on Linux are that the kernel has many abstraction layers and levels of indirection and because its build system allows for creating highly customized kernel binary images.

The Linux kernel has a monolithic architecture, which means that the whole kernel code runs in kernel space and shares the same address space. Because of this architecture, you have to choose the features your kernel will include at compile time. Technically, Linux is not a pure monolithic kernel, because it can be extended at runtime using loadable kernel modules. To load a module, the kernel must contain all the kernel symbols used in the module. If those symbols were not included in the kernel at compile time, the module will not be loaded due to missing dependencies. Modules are only a way to defer compilation (or execution) of a specific kernel feature. Once a kernel module is loaded, it is part of the monolithic kernel and shares the same address space of the code that was included at kernel compile time. Even when Linux supports modules, you still need to choose at kernel compile time most of the features that will be built in the kernel image and the ones that will allow you to load specific kernel modules once the kernel is executing.

For this reason, it is very important to be able to choose what code you want to compile (or not) in a Linux kernel. The approach for achieving this is using conditional compilation. There are tons of configuration options for choosing whether a specific feature will be included. This is translated to deciding whether a specific C file, code segment or data structure will be included in the kernel image and its modules.

So, an easy and efficient way to manage all these compilation options is needed. The infrastructure to manage this—building the kernel image and its modules—is known as the Kernel Build System (kbuild).

About pacesettergraam

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Posted on December 27, 2012, in linux and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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