Updated June 30, 2023
Introduction to Monolithic Kernel
A monolithic Kernel is an operating system architecture that supports the basic feature of computer operations such as file, memory, and resource management. It is a primitive type of architecture where all the resources are associated with the Kernel space. Some industry-leading Operating Systems such as Linux, Solaris, OpenVMS AIX, and DOS were built based on Monolithic Kernel. It is a kernel architecture suitable for smaller tasks like CPU scheduling and system call as it manages limited resources. However, because of its security, reliability, and access speed, most financial projects use Monolithic kernel-based operating systems.
To understand any operating system, it’s essential to understand the architecture of the OS and the different components and how they communicate with each other. As you can see from the architecture diagram above, the monolithic kernel is a very old and basic operating system that performs tasks like batch processing, file transfer, etc. It works as a virtual machine and controls all the hardware components.
Key things to notice in the architecture are:
- All the hardware components needed for processing are embedded inside the kernel.
- Since all the components are present inside the kernel, they can communicate with each other directly and also with the kernel.
- It can handle minimal resources and are ideal for performing smaller tasks.
- It can load modules dynamically; dynamically loadable modules incur a very small overhead compared to building the module into the operating system image.
- It also helps to keep the amount of code running in kernel space to a minimum.
How does a Monolithic Kernel make Working so Easy?
This kernel has straightforward architecture makes it easy to work and understand. Writing a monolithic kernel requires less code than other kernels like microkernels. The leverages one address space running in kernel mode for its functioning with all kernel and device drivers. The main advantage of this approach is effectiveness, especially with the x86 architecture, as switching a task is an expensive operation.
What can you do with Monolithic Kernel?
It offers high speed and is ideal for smaller tasks as it can handle limited resources. With a monolithic kernel, you can perform tasks like CPU scheduling, file management, memory management, and other functions via system calls.
Given below are the advantages mentioned:
- The execution speed is faster in the monolithic kernel than in the microkernel.
- Less coding is required to write this kernel as compared to the microkernel.
- The source and compiled code are compact and this software consists of a single piece.
- It consists of the operating system’s core functions and device drivers and can load modules at runtime.
- Also, loading the modules dynamically helps to keep the amount of code running in the kernel to a minimum.
Why Should we use Monolithic Kernel?
Use this kernel when you need the execution to be fast and fewer resources must be handled. Also, suppose modules need to be loaded dynamically. In that case, one can go with the Monolithic kernel OS; dynamic loading of modules is a more flexible way of handling the operating system image at runtime than rebooting the operating system image.
This OS has a very confined scope as it can only perform smaller tasks. Also, there are certain limitations that you should be well aware of while deciding on the OS.
- This kernel is hard to extend.
- The entire system can crash if a service crashes in a monolithic kernel. This is a major drawback.
- Coding in kernel space is hard as you can not use common libraries, and debugging is also hard.
- The entire operating system must be modified if a user wants to add a new service.
Who is the Right Audience for Learning these Technologies?
This article would benefit computer science graduates or IT professionals who are beginning their careers. Having a good knowledge of OS is always an add-on for the company. This kernel has a straightforward architecture; it’s very easy to understand and work on it. Also, understanding the monolithic kernel is a must for understanding a more advanced operating system like a Microkernel operating system or hybrid operating system.
How will this Technology help you in Career Growth?
Good knowledge of any operating system is an added advantage for any IT professionals; this is a good starting point for understanding a kernel-based operating system. Most of the banking and financial projects still make use of Linux and Unix-based operating systems. Since they have this kernel architecture, it would be great to understand kernel architecture in depth.
We have reached the end of the article; we hope you understand what the Monolithic kernel is, how it works, its architecture, and how it can help you excel in your career. Also, if you get clarity on the Monolithic kernel OS architecture, it will be easy to understand the more advanced OS like microkernel OS and Hybrid kernel OS architecture.
This has been a guide to Monolithic Kernel. Here we discussed the concepts, scope, career growth, and advantages of the Monolithic Kernel. You can also go through our other suggested articles to learn more –