Submitted Dave Astle, Dec 27 2000 06:50 AM | Last updated Dec 27 2000 06:50 AM
The kernel is the core that provides basic services for all other parts of the operating system. A kernel also can be defined as the outermost part of an operating system that interacts with user commands.
Typically, a kernel includes an interrupt handler that works with all requests or completed I/O operations that compete for the kernel's services, a scheduler that determines which programs share the kernel's processing time in what order, and a supervisor that actually gives use of the computer to each process when it is scheduled. A kernel may also include a manager of the operating system's address spaces in memory or storage, sharing these among all components and other users of the kernel's services.
Because the code that makes up the kernel is needed continuously, it is usually loaded into computer storage in an area that is protected so that it will not be overlaid with other less frequently used parts of the operating system.