How Does the Linux Kernel Work? The Linux Kernel Anatomy Explained

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How Does the Linux Kernel Work? The Linux Kernel Anatomy Explained

The Linux kernel functions as a bridge between programs and hardware, as well as managing the system’s resources. Linus Torvalds created the Linux kernel using C and Assembly, resulting in a lightweight and portable core that was distributed to the public as open source.

The Linux kernel may be found in a variety of industries, including space, computers, smart watches, mobile phones, robots, and health care. But have you ever pondered how the Linux kernel works behind the scenes?

Hardware Usage on Linux

The Linux kernel, first and foremost, determines which hardware will be activated and in what manner when you power on your computer. Furthermore, the programming interface allows for control of high-end applications. To illustrate these settings, you may see information on the hardware placed in the slots on your motherboard and profit from this precise information.

This programming interface also includes an abstraction layer. A camera, for example, is required if you wish to have a video discussion with your buddies. The abstraction layer allows the software you use to utilize this webcam independent of its manufacturer or model. The program in this case can only utilize the Linux interface. The Linux kernel converts the function calls in this interface into the hardware directives required by the camera.

The Linux kernel may output precise information about the hardware it finds through the /proc and /sys virtual file systems. Below are a few tools used for this, as well as the devices and cards they export:

  • lspci: For PCI devices
  • lsusb: For USB devices
  • lspcmcia: For PCMCIA cards

As you can see in the picture above, the Linux distribution is running on VirtualBox. You may, however, view a lot of information such as VGA, USB controller, bridges, and SATA controller.

You may also receive even more thorough information by using the -v argument.

Applications in the Linux kernel often access devices using special files in the /dev directory. Disk drives and other physical devices are represented by these special files. These special files include /dev/hda, /dev/sdc, /dev/sdc3, /dev/input/mouse0, and dev/snd/*.

Linux File System Management

File systems are a prominent component of the Linux kernel. One of Linux’s most significant advantages is its file system. On a Linux system, all files are grouped into a single branch. Users may therefore use this hierarchy to go to their chosen locations.

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The root directory (/) is the beginning point of this hierarchy. The root directory has further subdirectories. The /home directory is the most frequently utilized subfolder under /. This subfolder has other subdirectories, and each directory contains files containing the real data.

Consider a text file on your computer’s desktop. If you create a text file on your desktop named helloworld.txt, you may refer to it as /home/muo/Desktop/helloworld.txt. Of course, the example of /muo here will change. Because the name of this subfolder is determined by your current user’s name. The Linux kernel uses this naming mechanism to convert between real and physical storage on a drive.

Furthermore, the Linux kernel may combine data from several drives. The mounting mechanism comes into play here. It mounts the other drives to existing directories in the hierarchy and utilizes one of the disks in the root system. Other disks are subsequently assigned to mount points. This enables users to keep the /home directory on a secondary hard drive with other subdirectories.

You may access these directories from usual places when you mount a disk to the /home directory. Paths like /home/muo/Desktop/helloworld.txt, for example, continue to function.

The findmnt -A tool displays the mount points between files on your system.

You can physically store data on drives using numerous file system types. The most well-known file system formats on Linux are ext2, ext3, and ext4. There are, however, several more file system formats. In any event, before mounting the file system, it must be formatted. You may use commands such as mkfs. For this, use ext3 (mkfs stands for make file system, and ext3 is the file system).

As an argument, these commands take the device file path you wish to format. It is a harmful procedure, and if you do not wish to erase or reset a filesystem, you should use it with care.

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Aside from this, the Linux kernel makes use of network file systems such as NFS. NFS is a network file system that does not store data on local disks. NFS sends data over the network to a server, which stores it. Users will not have to interact with the data on a regular basis since it will be stored on a server. They may also utilize Linux’s regular hierarchical file system as normal.

Shared Function Operations

All of the software in the Linux system performs the same duties. This is why these functions play such an important role in the Linux kernel. When opening a file, for example, you can only utilize the file name without knowing where the file is physically stored or what functions and operations it will employ. The kernel already includes all of these functions.

You may keep your file on the hard drive, on many hard disks, or even on a distant server. In such instances, shared file communication features are essential. Data is exchanged across applications regardless of how it is transferred. These data transfers are made possible by shared communication functions. This transfer might take place across wireless networks or even a landline phone line.

Process Management in Linux

A process is an active instance of a program that operates on data or information in memory. The Linux kernel’s job is to create and manage these memory areas. The kernel allocates memory for a running application and loads executable code from the file system into memory. The code is then executed by the kernel.

Multitasking is supported by the Linux kernel. It is capable of executing several processes concurrently. However, there is only one transaction in any given time window. However, since the Linux kernel divides time into little parts, each process occurs sequentially.

Because these millisecond time segments are in millisecond increments, they are only active at certain periods and remain idle the rest of the time. The Linux kernel’s role in this case is to optimize performance by executing numerous processes at the same time.

If the time periods are too lengthy, the operating program may be less responsive than desired. Task modifications may be difficult if timelines are too short. The time frame interval needed here will vary depending on the importance of the task. You’ve probably heard of high-priority processes and low-priority procedures. This is one of the functions managed by the Linux kernel.

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This is not always the accurate explanation. The fundamental constraint is that each processor core can only support one worker process at a time. Multiple processes may operate in parallel on multiprocessor platforms. A simple system usually always has hundreds of processes running.

Access Rights in Linux

On a Linux system, you can create as many users as you like, just as on other operating systems. In such instances, a rights management system that supports both individual users and groups is available. File and user permissions come into play here.

The Linux kernel controls the data and ensures that each process has the proper rights. When you attempt to open a file, for example, the kernel must compare the process ID to the access permissions. If the kernel determines that you have the necessary permissions, it will open the file.

The Linux Kernel Controls Everything

As you can see, the Linux kernel manages everything from file security to user creation and file downloads from the internet. Everything is in its proper place. Every user has certain rights. For maximum speed, the Linux kernel handles processes and time slots.

Furthermore, the file system, which is one of the most essential characteristics that distinguishes the Linux kernel from other operating systems, is critical. Linux is not a black box. All files and source codes, on the other hand, are available. The Linux directory system hierarchy might help you better grasp the practical and powerful nature of the Linux kernel.

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