Understanding the Linux Kernel, 3rd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: November 2005
Pages: 944

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 can share the system efficiently, and expertly organizes data transfers so that the CPU isn't kept waiting any longer than necessary for the relatively slow disks.

The third edition of Understanding the Linux Kernel takes you on a guided tour of the most significant data structures, algorithms, and programming tricks used in the kernel. Probing beyond superficial features, the authors offer valuable insights to people who want to know how things really work inside their machine. Important Intel-specific features are discussed. Relevant segments of code are dissected line by line. But the book covers more than just the functioning of the code; it explains the theoretical underpinnings of why Linux does things the way it does.

This edition of the book covers Version 2.6, which has seen significant changes to nearly every kernel subsystem, particularly in the areas of memory management and block devices. The book focuses on the following topics:

  • Memory management, including file buffering, process swapping, and Direct memory Access (DMA)
  • The Virtual Filesystem layer and the Second and Third Extended Filesystems
  • Process creation and scheduling
  • Signals, interrupts, and the essential interfaces to device drivers
  • Timing
  • Synchronization within the kernel
  • Interprocess Communication (IPC)
  • Program execution

Understanding the Linux Kernel will acquaint you with all the inner workings of Linux, but it's more than just an academic exercise. You'll learn what conditions bring out Linux's best performance, and you'll see how it meets the challenge of providing good system response during process scheduling, file access, and memory management in a wide variety of environments. This book will help you make the most of your Linux system.

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oreillyUnderstanding the Linux Kernel, 3rd Edition

(based on 6 reviews)

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Linux Kernel

By Mickydee the Thinker

from San Francisco

About Me Educator, Sys Admin

Verified Buyer


  • Concise
  • Easy to understand
  • Helpful examples
  • Well-written


  • Not comprehensive enough

Best Uses

  • Intermediate
  • Novice

Comments about oreilly Understanding the Linux Kernel, 3rd Edition:

The book went into detail about the Linux Kernel. It is a good book for the novice user to understand what and how the kernel works. I do wish it went more into how to write code to produce your own Linux kernel.

(9 of 17 customers found this review helpful)


Which kernel are they commenting on?

By marty

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Understanding the Linux Kernel, 3rd Edition:

Its a clear and well written book -- but I'm not sure what they're commenting on!!

It supposed to cover 2.6.10 -- but the code snippets don't match.

Often they rewrite the code (I don't know why -- my requests for explanation went unanswered).

This also happened in the 2nd edition.

Most of the time the actual kernel code is clearer than the refactored algorithms they present (which are presented as code snippets, not algorithms).

(7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)


This is a great book

By jdruin

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Understanding the Linux Kernel, 3rd Edition:

This book does a great job of explaining the data structures and mechanisms Linux uses. It is also written as plainly as possible considering the subject at hand and the editor did a nice job making sure the text is not overly complicated. The book does not include many code examples compared to other books on the subject such as Linux Kernel Internals. The best use is as a reference or as a guide while actually viewing the kernel code. It should be more resistant to kernel changes over time as a result of focusing on the theories and interfaces behind the kernel but will have to be updated if the internal structures are changed.

(2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)


Great book

By Shinymetal

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Understanding the Linux Kernel, 3rd Edition:

Well written, concise and complete, a really good reading.Reccomended.

(5 of 6 customers found this review helpful)


A good read

By P Wilson

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Understanding the Linux Kernel, 3rd Edition:

Delving into the Linux code left me with many unanswered questions. This book answered a lot of them and proved very useful. Linux Device Drivers, also by O'Reilly was a good accompaniment. Very recommended.

(6 of 33 customers found this review helpful)


the road to linux

By Anonymous

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Understanding the Linux Kernel, 3rd Edition:

to master linux- learn C,logic-mathmatics and pick this book up after you know C with x86 instruction set experience!!!!-----JUMP into this book without prior knowledge to subjects i suggest learning, will be very difficult. Word of advice start with windows

and learn the subjects first. Read the book its comprehensive you will master linux quickly, 3 years.(GET A Enterprise Distro of linux) Reading man pages and toying with linux will take a lifetime!!!!!!!!!! TRUST ME!!!!!!!!

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