Types of Kernels in Operating System

Kernel Types in OS: In this tutorial, we will learn about the various types of Kernels, their features of each type, and how it is different from the other one. By Monika Sharma Last updated : May 05, 2023

As we have already studied about the Kernels, we know that the Kernel is a program which is the main component of the Operating System. Now let us study about the types of Kernels.

Types of kernels

A Kernel is classified into three main types:

  1. Monolithic Kernel
  2. Micro Kernel
  3. Hybrid Kernel

One more type of Kernel exists which is the combination of these two types of kernels and is known as the Hybrid Kernel.

Let us study each of them in brief...

1. Monolithic Kernel

In this type of Kernel architecture, all the functions, like Process Management, Memory management, interrupt handling, etc. are performed in the Kernel space.

The monolithic Kernels first consisted of only one module, and this module was responsible for all the functions that were performed by the Kernel. This increased the performance of the OS as all the functions were present inside the same module, but this also led to serious drawbacks like large size of the Kernel, very low reliability because even if a single function of the Kernel failed, this led to the failure of the entire Kernel Program, and poor maintenance, due to the same reason. So, to increase the performance of the system, a modular approach was made in the Monolithic kernels in which each function was present in a different Module inside the Kernel Space. So, for fixing any bugs or in case of failure, only that particular module was unloaded and loaded after fixing.

Monolithic Kernel

2. Micro Kernels

In this type of Kernel architecture, the basic user services like device driver management, protocol stack management, File system management and graphics control are present in the Userspace, and the rest functions lie Memory management, Process management is present inside the Kernel space. So, whenever the system has the requirement of services present in the Kernel space, the OS switches to the Kernel Mode, and for the user level services, it switches to the User Mode. This type of Kernel Architecture reduces the size of the Kernel, but the speed of executing processes and providing other services is much slower than the Monolithic Kernels.

Micro Kernels

3. Hybrid Kernel

For the best performance of the system, we require both high speed and small size of the kernel so that our system may have the maximum efficiency. So, to meet this, a new type of Kernel was designed which was somewhat a combination of the Monolithic Kernel and the MicroKernel. This type of Kernel is known as the Hybrid Kernel. Such type of Architecture is being used in almost all systems which are being manufactured nowadays.

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