Linux Tactic

Mastering the Linux Kernel: Compiling and Upgrading for Customization and Efficiency

Operating systems are the backbone of any computing device, and it’s hard to imagine functioning without them. They are software that manages hardware components and communication between the software and the hardware.

There are highly advanced operating systems that we interact with daily through our computers, mobile phones, and other devices. In this article, we will explore the two main topics relating to operating systems, their major components, and the types of operating systems.

to Operating Systems

Definition and Function of Operating Systems

An operating system is system software that works in conjunction with computer hardware and other software applications. It manages computer resources, including memory, storage, and processing power, and communicates with the hardware components.

The operating system acts as a mediator between the user and the hardware, enabling them to run programs and applications. Without an operating system, it would not be possible to run software on a computer.

A vast majority of computers today run on one version of Microsoft Windows or another. Other popular examples of operating systems include macOS or Mac Operating System for Macbooks and iMacs, Linux, and Android Operating System for phones.

Examples of Operating Systems

Windows XP – Although no longer supported, for many years, Windows XP was a popular choice for personal, home, and small business use. It was a stable operating system and easy to operate due to its familiar interface.

Windows 8 – Released as the successor to Windows 7, Windows 8 was designed to work well on tablets and touchscreen devices. Its design was optimized for touch input and included a new user interface known as the Metro Design Language.

Linux – Linux is a free and open-source operating system boasting one of the most significant and most active communities of developers who create, use and support it worldwide. It is used to power some of the world’s most sophisticated servers and web services due to its unmatched stability and security features.

Mac OS X – Commonly used for Apple’s wide range of desktop and laptop products (e.g., MacBook, iMac, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini), Mac OS X is Apple’s flagship operating system. Mac OS X boasts many design and functionality improvements, making it a more streamlined and pleasant user experience.

Components of Operating Systems

Overview of Operating System Components

The operating system is made up of several components to ensure a smooth and stable operation. These include:

Bootloader – This is the part of the operating system that runs at startup.

Its precise function is to load the operating system into memory and set up the environment for the system to run. Kernel – This component interacts directly with the hardware, allowing software to access it without needing specific hardware knowledge.

Daemons – These are background processes that run continuously. They perform various activities, including logging, responding to network requests, and executing scheduled tasks.

Networking – This component ensures that communication between devices is possible, whether through wired or wireless connections. Shell – This is the user interface through which users interact with the operating system.

It provides a way to execute commands, access files, and launch programs. Graphical Server – This component is responsible for displaying graphical content on the computer screen.

Different types of graphical servers are used in different operating systems, and they generally provide a framework for displaying third-party applications. Desktop Environment – This component provides the user interface of an operating system.

Typically it provides a selection of tools to help manage windows, user directories, and file functions. Applications – These are software programs that the user runs to complete specific tasks on the computer.

Kernel Space and Userspace

A kernel is a computer program that manages input and output requests from the application, memory access, and storage management. The kernel operates in the so-called kernel space, which has a different set of rules than the user space.

The user space, on the other hand, is where user-level applications run, and access to hardware is restricted. This separation is necessary to maintain system stability, security, and protect against user mistakes or errors.

Userspace developers write and maintain code in the user space, while kernel developers work in the kernel space. The kernel space has direct access to hardware resources, while the user space only interacts with the kernel to send or receive the requested resources or services.


Operating systems are essential components of modern computing and provide a framework for all applications and processes to run on the hardware. With the many options available today, choosing the right operating system for your needs can be overwhelming but with awareness of the features, it should not be difficult to find one.

Understanding the comprehensive components of the Operating System can help minimize usage and maintenance issues while maximizing productivity and efficiency.


to Linux

Linux is an open-source operating system that has gained immense popularity over the years. It has a UNIX-like design and is highly portable, with versions available for several hardware architectures such as ARM, x86, and PowerPC.

The community-driven nature of Linux has resulted in many versions known as distributions or “distros.” There are several popular Linux distros, including Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, and Arch Linux.

Linux Kernel

The Linux kernel is the defining component of the Linux operating system. It was created by Linus Torvalds in 1991 as a free and open-source operating system kernel for personal computers.

The GNU/Linux project later used it as the core of its operating system. Over the years, the Linux kernel has also been used to power other devices like smartphones, tablets, embedded systems, and game consoles.

Android OS, which is popular in the smartphone industry, is a Linux-based operating system. The Linux kernel is a monolithic kernel, which means that the entire operating system runs in kernel space, without any distinction between kernel and user space.

This approach allows for better performance but also creates space for instability. Other kernel designs, like the microkernel and the hybrid kernel, separate the kernel and user space.

The hybrid kernel is used in macOS and Windows.

Linux Kernel Relationship with Hardware

One of the key roles of the Linux kernel is to handle hardware communication. The kernel uses interrupts to communicate directly with hardware.

An interrupt is a signal from the hardware to the kernel that notifies it of an event or a request for service. The kernel then handles the request and interrupts the user-space process upon completion.

In the Linux kernel, the interrupt handler code is executed within a specific context called the interrupt context. The interrupt context is special because it runs with the process context disabled, which means that the regular process flow is temporarily paused.

This mechanism ensures that interrupts are handled as quickly as possible.

Linux Kernel Features

The Linux kernel has several features that

make it highly desirable for various computing needs. We’ll discuss some of the key features below:

Dynamic loading of kernel modules – The Linux kernel allows for the dynamic loading and unloading of kernel modules at runtime.

This feature

makes it easy for administrators and developers to add or remove functionality as needed and helps minimize memory wastage. Preemptive kernel – The Linux kernel is preemptive, which means that it allows for interrupts at any point in its code to switch to a higher-priority task.

This mechanism ensures that the kernel can respond immediately to high-priority events, even when it is executing low-priority code. Symmetrical Multiprocessor (SMP) support – The Linux kernel supports SMP, meaning that it can run on computer systems with multiple processors/cores.

This feature allows the kernel to take advantage of the extra processing power available in modern CPUs.

Open software nature – The Linux kernel is open-source software, which means that users can examine, modify, and distribute the code as they see fit. This open nature of the software allows it to evolve and develop more features that meet the needs of a broad range of users.

Object-oriented device model – In the Linux kernel, hardware devices are treated as objects and are represented in the system as a tree-like structure. This approach provides a simple and consistent way to manage hardware devices in the system and has useful applications for software development.

Architecture of the

Linux Kernel

Overview of the

Linux Kernel Architecture

The Linux kernel has a modular architecture that separates the code into different parts. In the user space, applications interact with the kernel through the GNU C Library.

The system call interface provided by the library enables applications to request specific services from the kernel. The kernel code is divided into two significant parts: architecture-dependent and architecture-independent code.

Components of the

Linux Kernel

The Linux kernel comprises several components that work together to create the final operating system as seen by the user. These components include:

System call interface – This provides an interface for applications to request services from the kernel, including file operations, device operations, and process management.

Process management – This component manages the creation, scheduling, and termination of processes within the system. The scheduler assigns processes to the CPU while keeping the best use of the system’s resources.

Virtual file system – This component manages the file systems within the system and provides the interface between the kernel and file systems. Memory management – This component manages the system’s memory and includes features like virtual memory, swap space, and memory allocation.

Network stack – This component manages network communication between applications and hardware devices in the system. Architecture – The kernel has several architecture-specific layers that deal with the hardware specifics of the system.

Device drivers – Device drivers are written to provide support for hardware devices to interface with the Linux kernel.

Kernel Interfaces

The Linux kernel has several interfaces that enable different parts of the kernel to communicate with each other, and with kernel modules and device drivers. These interfaces include:

System calls – These calls provide a mechanism for applications to invoke kernel operations.

Interrupts – Interrupts are used to signal the kernel to handle hardware-related operations. Linux kernel Interfaces – Several interfaces are available to developers to create and execute kernel modules that work seamlessly with the kernel.

Application programming interface (API) – The kernel provides an API that specifies a standardized way for user-space applications to communicate with and

make requests to the kernel. Architecture-independent kernel code – Kernel code that is not tied to hardware is referred to as architecture-independent code.


Linux is a versatile, open-source operating system known for its low cost, high performance, and security aspects. The modular design of the Linux kernel enables its various components to work together to provide a powerful platform for various use cases.

Understanding its architecture and components can help users to better leverage its capabilities and appreciate its potential use cases. Compiling and Upgrading the

Linux Kernel

Compiling the

Linux Kernel

Compiling the Linux kernel involves taking the kernel source code and converting it into binary files that the computer can execute.

While most users use precompiled kernel packages provided by their Linux distribution, there are times when one may want to compile the kernel themselves to customize their system or add specific features. To begin compiling the Linux kernel, the first step is to download the kernel source from the official

Linux Kernel Archives website (

It is essential to choose the version of the kernel that matches your system requirements. Once the source code is downloaded, it needs to be extracted from the compressed tarball.

This can be done using the tar command in the terminal:


tar -xf linux-x.x.x.tar.xz


Replacing `x.x.x` with the actual version number. After the source code is extracted, navigate to the kernel source directory using the `cd` command:


cd linux-x.x.x


Now it’s time to configure the kernel options.

The kernel provides a variety of options that can be customized based on specific needs. The configuration process can be done with the help of a graphical interface or through the command line using the `

make` command. To configure the kernel using the command line, start by running the following command:


make menuconfig


This will open a text-based interface where you can navigate through various kernel options. Make the desired changes and save the configuration file.

Once the kernel is configured, it is time to compile the kernel and its modules. This can be done by running the following command:




The compilation process may take some time, depending on your system’s resources. After the compilation is complete, the next step is to install the newly compiled kernel.

This can be done by running the following command:



make modules_install install


The `

make modules_install` command installs the kernel modules, and the `install` command copies the necessary files to their respective locations and updates the bootloader configuration. Upgrading the

Linux Kernel

Upgrading the Linux kernel involves replacing the existing kernel with a newer version.

It is always recommended to back up essential configuration files and data before performing any upgrade. The first step in upgrading the Linux kernel is to download the source code of the newer version from the

Linux Kernel Archives website (

It is important to choose a version that is compatible with your system and meets your specific requirements. Once the source code is downloaded, extract it using the tar command:


tar -xf linux-x.x.x.tar.xz


Replace `x.x.x` with the actual version number.

After the source code is extracted, navigate to the kernel source directory:


cd linux-x.x.x


Before proceeding with the upgrade, it is crucial to review any release notes or documentation provided with the new kernel. This will ensure that you are aware of any changes, bug fixes, or known issues that may affect your system.

Once you are ready, it’s time to apply any necessary patches to the kernel source. Patches are files that contain changes or updates to the kernel source code.

They are often provided by the kernel developers to address specific issues or add new features. To apply a patch, navigate to the kernel source directory and use the `patch` command:


patch -p1 < /path/to/patch-file.patch


Replace `/path/to/patch-file.patch` with the actual path to the patch file.

After applying any necessary patches, it is time to reconfigure the kernel. This step is similar to the configuration process outlined in Subtopic 5.1. Run the following command:


make menuconfig


Make any desired changes to the kernel configuration and save the configuration file. Next, compile the kernel and its modules using the `

make` command:




Once the compilation is complete, install the new kernel by running the following commands:



make modules_install


make install


The `

make modules_install` command installs the kernel modules, and the `install` command copies the necessary files to their respective locations and updates the bootloader configuration. After the installation is complete, reboot your system to start using the upgraded kernel.

During the boot process, you will have the option to select the desired kernel version if you have multiple versions installed. It is worth mentioning that upgrading the kernel is not always necessary or recommended for every user.

It is generally recommended to upgrade the kernel when there are specific requirements or when there are critical bug fixes or security updates available.


Compiling and upgrading the Linux kernel can be a complex process, but it offers users a great deal of flexibility and customization. By following the appropriate steps, users can customize their systems and stay up to date with the latest features, bug fixes, and security updates provided by the Linux kernel developers.

In conclusion, understanding the ins and outs of operating systems, such as Linux, is crucial for anyone using computers and other devices. The Linux kernel serves as the core of the operating system, providing essential functionalities and features.

We explored how to compile and upgrade the Linux kernel, highlighting the steps involved in these processes. Compiling the kernel allows for customization and optimization, while upgrading ensures access to the latest updates and enhancements.

With this knowledge, users can tailor their systems to their specific needs and stay up to date with advancements in the Linux kernel. The world of operating systems is vast and ever-evolving, and being familiar with its components and processes empowers users to

make more informed decisions and maximize their computing experience.

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