In a general sense, the kernel manages the system resources. As the user, you do not often interact with the kernel, but instead just the applications that you are using. Linux refers to each application as a process, and the kernel assigns each process a number called a process ID (PID). First, the Linux kernel loads and runs a process named init, which is also known as the "father of all processes" because it starts every subsequent process.
Details about the sequence of events that occur when the Linux kernel is loaded can be found in the file /usr/src/linux-2.6/init/main.c if you have installed the Linux kernel documentation.
This next step of the boot process begins with a message that the Linux kernel is loading, and a series of messages will be printed to the screen, giving you the status of each command. A failure should display an error message. The -quiet option may be passed to the kernel at boot time to suppress many of these messages.
If the boot process were halted at this point, the system would just sit idle and the screen would be blank. In order to make the system useful for users, we need to start the system services. Those services are some of the applications that allow us to interact with the system.
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