Linux Kernel

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Linux kernel is the core of the Linux-based operating systems. It is the core interface that handles the communication between the processes and the hardware. It is a bridge between the two, managing the resources as efficiently as possible. Linux kernel is a free, open-source, modular, monolithic, Unix-like operating system kernel. It can be inspected, modified, forked, and distributed by anyone without any copyright issues.

The Linux kernel was first developed in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. He is still maintaining and improving the kernel with the contribution of the Linux community. As of February 2022, Linux kernel 5.16 is the latest stable version and 5.17 is under development by Torvalds and the contributors. The latest release, older releases, update notes, contributors’ names, and release dates all can be found on the kernel.org website.

Linux kernel has four main tasks: memory management, process management, device drivers, system calls/security. It is like the hidden main engine of mechanical devices; it handles the main purpose of the device and keeps it running while the other components are helping to run it in a better way. Normally, operating systems try to hide the kernel as much as possible for a better user experience, like Windows or macOS. However, the open-source nature of Linux and the community around that consists of high-level users causes and results in the opposite direction. Linux kernel is accessible, changeable, and modifiable.

Linux kernel has three different release types: release candidate (RC), mainline, and long-term support (LTS). Release candidate versions are the most frequent ones; they are scheduled to be released once a week. They are released for the preparation of the related mainline version for simply checking the bugs. As those bugs are fixed, the mainline version releases.

Mainline versions are generally released once in 9-10 weeks and they get small updates. The LTS versions are picked among the mainline releases to be declared to be supported for the long term.

LTS releases are as frequent as once a year and they are generally maintained up to 6-7 years before reaching end-of-life status.

Is the Linux kernel open-source?

Linux kernel is mostly open-source and it can be used, modified, and distributed personally and commercially. It is under GNU General Public License, which allows users to run, study, share and modify the software.


Is it legal to edit the Linux kernel?

Yes, it is completely legal to edit the Linux kernel since it is under General Public License – GNU. Linux kernel is an open-source project; it encourages people to edit, fix, and report.


Where is the kernel located in Linux?

Linux kernel has no default location in the file system. However, most of the distributions place the kernel in the /boot directory. Users can check the location of the Linux kernel by using cat /proc/cmdline command.


How do I find my Linux kernel version?

To find the Linux kernel version, you can run either of those commands in Terminal:

  • uname -r
  • cat /proc/version
  • hostnamectl | grep -i kernel

How do I update my Linux kernel?

Linux kernel updates mostly come with the new versions of the Linux distributions. Most of the Linux distros have an integrated updating tool that handles software updates. As a new Linux kernel version releases, distros integrate them into their operating systems, then push it via the updating tools. It is also possible to manually update the Linux kernel but it is not advised for average users.


How to update the Linux kernel without a reboot?

You can update the Linux kernel without a reboot by using one of the live-updating software such as KernelCare, Ksplice, and Livepatch. Click to more details about rebootless kernel update: How to update Linux Kernel without rebooting?


Where can I download the Linux kernel?

You can download Linux kernel release candidates, mainline releases, and long-term support versions from the kernel.org – The Linux Kernel Archives.

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