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Understanding the Linux Kernel

November 14, 2000

Sebastopol, CA--Linux was once seen as a kind of counter-culture hacker experiment. But as Linux has increasingly become a mission-critical part of many organizations, a deep knowledge of Linux is increasingly valued as a sophisticated display of programming skill. In order to really understand Linux, you must understand the kernel.

Linux was developed by Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki in Finland. To complete the operating system, Torvalds and other team members made use of system components developed by members of the Free Software Foundation for the GNU project. Thus, the only software to which the term "Linux" applies is the kernel. The Linux kernel is responsible for the sophisticated memory management of the whole system, and the force behind Linux efficiency.

The kernel is the essential center of Linux, providing all the basic services for all other parts of the operating system. Typically, the kernel handles all requests or completed I/O operations and determines which programs will share the kernel's processing time and in what order.

"Linux source code for all supported architectures is contained in about 4500 C and Assembly files stored in about 270 subdirectories. It consists of about 2 million lines of code, which occupy more than 58 megabytes of disk space," says Daniel P. Bovet, coauthor of the latest O'Reilly release Understanding the Linux Kernel. "After reading this book, you should be able to find your way through the code, distinguishing between crucial data structures and secondary ones--in short, you'll become a true Linux hacker."

If you have ever wondered why Linux is so efficient, or if you want to know if its performance will be useful for some unusual application that you have, O'Reilly's latest release, Understanding the Linux Kernel should be on your radar. Understanding the Linux Kernel provides a guided tour of the Linux kernel along with valuable and significant insights.

Online Resources:

Understanding the Linux Kernel
By Daniel P. Bovet & Marco Cesati
November 2000
ISBN 0-596-00002-2, 702 pages $39.95

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