Tasks of the Kernel

On a purely technical level, the kernel is an intermediary layer between the hardware and the software. Its purpose is to pass application requests to the hardware and to act as a low-level driver to address the devices and components of the system. Nevertheless, there are other interesting ways of viewing the kernel.

□ The kernel can be regarded as an enhanced machine that, in the view of the application, abstracts the computer on a high level. For example, when the kernel addresses a hard disk, it must decide which path to use to copy data from disk to memory, where the data reside, which commands must be sent to the disk via which path, and so on. Applications, on the other hand, need only issue the command that data are to be transferred. How this is done is irrelevant to the application — the details are abstracted by the kernel. Application programs have no contact with the hardware itself,2 only with the kernel, which, for them, represents the lowest level in the hierarchy they know — and is therefore an enhanced machine.

□ Viewing the kernel as a resource manager is justified when several programs are run concurrently on a system. In this case, the kernel is an instance that shares available resources — CPU time, disk space, network connections, and so on — between the various system processes while at the same time ensuring system integrity.

2The CPU is an exception since it is obviously unavoidable that programs access it. Nevertheless, the full range of possible instructions is not available for applications.

□ Another view of the kernel is as a library providing a range of system-oriented commands. As is generally known, system calls are used to send requests to the computer; with the help of the C standard library, these appear to the application programs as normal functions that are invoked in the same way as any other function.

Continue reading here: Implementation Strategies

Was this article helpful?

0 0