The Linux Kernel


In computer science, the kernel is the center for most computer operating systems (OS). Its responsibilities include managing the system’s resources (the communication between hardware and software components). As a basic component of an operating system, a kernel provides the lowest-level abstraction layer for the resources (especially memory, processors and I/O devices) that application software must control to perform its function. It typically makes these facilities available to application processes through inter-process communication mechanisms and system calls.

Linux kernel is a rapidly developing kernel that is developed mainly by Linux users. Linus Torvalds has done enough initial and regular contributions to the development of the Linux Kernel. The website kernel.org is completely dedicated to Linux kernel and you can get latest releases and update from there.

A recent advancement of Linux is its use as an operating system for other operating systems (called a hypervisor). Recently, a modification to the kernel was made called the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM). This modification enabled a new interface to user space that allows other operating systems to run above the KVM-enabled kernel. In addition to running another instance of Linux, Microsoft® Windows® can also be virtualized. The only constraint is that the underlying processor must support the new virtualization instructions.

Linux kernel is responsible for the following:

-CPU resource scheduling (with the associated duties of process management)
-Memory management (including the important implementation of protection)
-Device control (including providing the device-file/device-driver interface)
-Security (at a device, process and user level)
-Accounting services (including CPU usage and disk quotas)
-Inter Process Communication (shared memory, semaphores and message passing)

Information cited from wikipedia, IBM website, kernelnewbies.org and bodhost.com