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Table of contents
Features of Linux kernel
Open Source 
Functions of Linux Kernel
Position of the Kernel Within the OS
Frequently Asked Questions 
What do we have in Linux Kernel?
Can we call Kernel as CPU?
Why does Linux not function as an operating system?
How is the kernel stored?
How many different types of Linux exist?
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Linux Kernel

Author Geetika Dua
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First of all, let us get familiar with the Linux Operating system. 

Linux is an open-source community like Unix operating systems. It is based on Linux Kernel. The initial release of Linux was on September 17, 1991, by Linus Torvalds.

Since its release, Linux has been used everywhere, whether on smartphones, watches, or supercomputers. It is quite a helpful tool for regular computer users or developers.

Linux kernel

We define Linux kernel as a free, open-source, monolithic, modular, Unix-like operating system kernel. It is the main component of the Linux operating system (OS) and is the primary mode of communication between the computer’s hardware and its processes.

Features of Linux kernel

Open Source 

The Linux Kernel was the product of Linus Torvalds. Right now, a lot of developers are working on it. An open-source license does not imply restrictions on the usage of the software. We can run, study, modify, and redistribute the source code or even sell copies of the changed or improved code. This is possible only when we are using the same license.


The term monolithic means that the kernel handles all the operations of hardware and driver. The complete Operating system works in the kernel space virtually.


Linux kernel facilitates Insertion and Removal Operations at runtime of loadable kernel modules. Performing this task allows only necessary modules to stay in the memory. It, therefore, increases the overall performance.

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Functions of Linux Kernel

By now, we know that the central part of the operating system is referred to as the kernel. It is responsible for carrying out the communication between devices and software. It is the part that loads first and stays in the main memory; let us look at the main functions of the Kernel are-

  • Device management:  Several devices are connected to a computer. A kernel has the job of storing all the data related to all the devices in a driver. This driver is called the device driver. Without the presence of this driver, the Kernel can not control the devices. The kernel has specific rules that are followed by every device.
  • Memory management- The kernel is also responsible for handling memory management. It keeps a vision of the memory, used and unused both. It ensures exclusivity by not allowing processes to manipulate data of each other.
  • Process management:  A system has various processes going on simultaneously. The kernel assigns time and priorities to the processes so that the CPU is not burdened. Hence it ensures security as well.
  • Handling system calls: By handling system calls, we mean that the user can execute queries on the kernel, and it will perform the task for us.

Position of the Kernel Within the OS

To put the kernel into perspective, consider that a Linux machine has three layers:

  • The hardware, also known as the physical machine or the system's foundation, comprises the processor, the central processing unit (CPU), and input/output (I/O) components such as storage, networking, and graphics. As well as carrying out calculations, the CPU reads from and writes to memory.
  • The OS's heart is the Linux kernel. The software running in memory gives the commands to the CPU.
  • The kernel controls the running programs known as user processes. User space is made up of user processes as a whole. The process is another name for the user process. Additionally, these servers and processes can communicate with one another thanks to the kernel (known as inter-process communication, or IPC).

CPUs can run system code in kernel or user modes, depending on the situation. In contrast to user mode, which limits SCI(Serial Communications Interface) access to the CPU and memory, kernel mode code has full access to the hardware. For memory, there is an equal division (kernel space and user space). These two minor aspects are the foundation for more complex activities like creating virtual machines, generating containers, and separating privileges for security.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What do we have in Linux Kernel?

The Linux kernel comprises several crucial components, including memory management, network management, hardware device drivers, filesystem drivers, and several other features.

Can we call Kernel as CPU?

The kernel, a crucial part of an operating system, acts as the primary interface between the processes running on a computer and its actual hardware.

Why does Linux not function as an operating system?

There are several definitions of an OS because of the various types of computers. An OS is the collection of software used to operate a computer. Linux cannot be regarded as a comprehensive operating system because practically every computer requires at least one additional piece of software.

How is the kernel stored?

The computer's physical memory contains all the kernel and user process memory (or perhaps on disc if data has been swapped from memory).

How many different types of Linux exist?

In contrast to other operating systems, Linux comes in more than 200 variations.


In this article, we have discussed Linux Kernel. We have discussed its features and its functions. Linux Kernel is an essential part of the Linux operating system. If you want to learn more about Linux, you can check out our articles.

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