Modules are an efficient way of adding device drivers, filesystems and other components dynamically into the Linux kernel without having to build a new kernel or reboot the system. They remove many of the restrictions constantly raised as arguments against monolithic architectures by, above all, micro-kernel proponents. These arguments concern primarily the lack of dynamic extensibility. In this chapter, we examine how the kernel interacts with the modules; in other words, how they are loaded and unloaded and how the kernel detects the interdependencies between various modules. It is therefore necessary to deal in some detail with the structure of module binary files (and their ELF structure).

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