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Understanding the Linux Kernel

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  611 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In order to thoroughly understand what makes Linux tick and why it works so well on a wide variety of systems, you need to delve deep into the heart of the kernel. The kernel handles all interactions between the CPU and the external world, and determines which programs will share processor time, in what order. It manages limited memory so well that hundreds of processes ca ...more
Paperback, Third Edition, 923 pages
Published November 24th 2005 by O'Reilly Media (first published October 1st 2000)
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  611 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
OK, "read" is a strong word. I skimmed and skipped. I definitely do not understand the Linux kernel. But I do know what a process is*, so that's something, I guess.

*it's an instance of a program in execution
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Want to be a kernel hacker? Don't start with this book. It's much better as a reference. For example, the whole discussion on the process address space is very confusing because it assumes that you already understand a whole bunch about protected mode programming on the x86, and, when discussing the implementation of page tables, etc, doesn't really make it clear that some facets of the implementation are due to i386 limitations, while others are conscious design decisions by the Linux kernel de ...more
Chris Maguire
Apr 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: gave-up-on
I'm not reading this to understand every line of the (2.2) Linux kernel, but rather to get a general overview of, and familiarity with, how GNU/Linux distros are (or were) underpinned by the kernel and how Linux interacts with hardware.

I'm only on chapter five but I'm getting what I want and expect. The book is actually more much detail than I'm looking for but I'd rather have more detail than I want, and skip over it, than have the author skip over it for me. I can always come back to interesti
Chris Down
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a terrific book to start turning yourself from good to great in a specific area of the Linux kernel, because it focuses on internals aspects without providing too much additional context. For exactly the same reason, it's probably not such a useful book if you want to go from mediocre to good, but this seems by design. I think this is the right choice for such a subject matter.

The book is written for 2.6, and contains quite a few code samples. The kernel has advanced a lot since then, ho
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
If you want to understand the Linux kernel, yep, this is what you should be reading.

If you want to get a decent feel for how a real-world operating system is implemented, you'd do pretty well to read this book. Because of the nature of describing what features the kernel has to provide, this book even serves somewhat to describe primitives that programs in general, and modern multithreaded programs in particular, require from an operating system.

Problems? A few. The details in a book like this w
Aufar Gilbran
This is book is amazing to learn the Linux kernel designs. The book only covers designs in Linux version 2.6, which is quite outdated already, but I think the majority of it remains (almost) the same.
Note that this book is not trying to guide you to start developing the kernel. For example, it covers all of the kernel synchronization API along with its inner mechanism, but it doesn't let you know on when to use it (which is important if you want to be a kernel developer). So it is best to use a
Ernestas Poskus
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Detailed and precise
Altivo Overo
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: serious computer geeks
This is not light reading in any sense. At almost a thousand pages, it's even heavy stuff physically. The content, though, is excellent and reminds me how impressive the achievements of the open source movement have become. Linux may not be UNIX in the technical, or trademark sense, but it is an almost perfect work-alike that is very difficult to distinguish from the real(tm) thing. The kernel (core) of the operating system was created from scratch for the most part, and probably looks very diff ...more
May 30, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Way too much ASM

As a design choice, the Linux Kernel has very little assembly code. This book takes a lot of assembly code and explains it in a horrible way. A made up example is like
The security_assert function saves the contents of some of the registers by the following:
Movl eax,esi
Pushl eax
Movl eax,(Ebx-10h)
pushl eax

Even being good at assembly, how this code works is not apparent. All non assembly functions are very shortly described in tables. Many are not more in depth than security_getaram
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
Still slowly going through this.

I think I prefer Robert Love's Linux Kernel book which covers the general design of the kernel in a more high-level way. This delves a little too far into the details and I'd prefer to just read the source instead of this book at that point. I may stop reading this soon.
Aug 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Whew, this was dense stuff. I hadn't read anything related to kernels since college so it was really interesting to see how much things have changed. I'd recommend this only to hard core kernel geeks. This isn't a light treatment.
Daniel Maturana
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A detailed overview of what's going on the kernel. Rather intricate and definitely not bedside reading. It makes you appreciate the complexity of what's happening under the hood and glad someone's already taken care of (most of) it.
Sep 06, 2007 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: technical
Made it partway in and didn't get any further. Didn't get in far enough to say whether it was really worthwhile or not (hence, no finishing).
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book. Not only does it teaches how to code linux, but also explains why for the design.
I constantly refer to this more for reference than anything else. I've read many of the chapters but I'm sure there are still things to learn here.
Mike Thompson
This is heavy reading, but that is to be expected because operating systems aren't for the faint of heart.
Dec 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
More detailed, but harder to read than Robert Love's Kernel book
Apr 07, 2008 rated it liked it
wah manteb pokoknya nih buku..mengupas segala macam mpe dalemanya kernel...cuman emang rada cocok bet kalo mo ngoprek Linux
Nelson Faria
Sep 07, 2011 rated it liked it
deep reading about linux internals.
A good future reference to come back.
Nick Black
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All things considered, a very well-constructed and comprehensive book. There's a third edition out now, with far superior coverage of 2.6.
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: linux, os, internals
Very detailed, very interesting. A book I would purchase every year just to keep up, if updating its contents was not such a daunting task for the authors.
Connor Stack
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: programming
Really great coverage of all the parts of an operating system (Linux in particular). It has a lot of breadth if you skim it, but also a lot of depth if you read a section through and through.
Randy MacLeod
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Apr 17, 2013
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Russ Olsen
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Mohammadreza Moghimi
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Jul 25, 2017
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