An operating system is a complex system, made up of a large number of components, or software layers. Ideally, these components are independant from each other, so that the large complex system becomes a set of smaller and more simple components.
The kernel of an operating system is its core component ; or its bottom layer, the interface with hardware.
The Linux kernel:
- Manages hardware drivers.
- Manages the system's fundamental services: memory, filesystem, network, processes, permissions.
- Stable releases: Even minor version number (2.6.x)
- Development releases: Odd minor version number (2.7.x)