What is kernel and what is it for?

What is kernel

The word kernel is one of those concepts that usually circulate in the world of Android terminology in the mouths of many users.

What is kernel

However, I do not think that I am rushing if I say that, surely, most people would not know what to say if we asked them what exactly it is.

That’s why here we explain what the kernel is and what it’s for.

What is kernel?

The kernel is the central part or heart of any operating system. It could be said that the kernel functions as an intermediary between the software and the hardware, since it is the one that receives the commands from the operating system elements to send them to the processor or other elements of the hardware to be executed.

The kernel is the first layer of software where we have the drivers that control all hardware components such as: screen, camera, bluetooth, memory, USB, Wi-Fi, Audio, Charge, CPU, etc…

What type of kernel does Android use?

In the case of the Android operating system, the kernel is of the Linux type. There are other systems that also use Linux as a kernel. The best known, apart from Android, is GNU (also known as GNU/Linux), whose greatest exponents are Debian and Ubuntu.

Specifically, Android uses the Linux Kernel with long term support (LTS). In desktop operating systems based on GNU/Linux the kernel is usually updated in its “vanilla” version which is the last to be released, the one in constant development and not the LTS which is the last more stable.

That’s why sometimes it seems that the Android kernel is a little behind, but in reality it’s the latest stable version and of course it receives security patches when a vulnerability is discovered.

On the other hand, the kernel version of your smartphone will depend on the processor that mounts your device.

For example, all current high-end smartphones with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (Galaxy S8, Google Pixel 2, Xperia XZ Premium) already have Linux kernel 4.4.

This was the first kernel with LTS support to benefit from the new Linux policy, which extended the period for which versions are updated from 2 to 6 years.

What version of kernel do I have on my smartphone?

If you’ve never heard of kernel, you may not know which version your smartphone is using. To do this, simply go to Settings, click About Phone, and in one of the latest options you’ll find Kernel version.

How do I install a new kernel?

Installing a new kernel is not within everyone’s reach. It is usually an update sent by the manufacturer via OTA, but this happens very rarely.

Installing a kernel manually is only available to those who have installed a custom recovery, such as TWRP.

From this custom recovery we will be able to flash a new kernel on our device but… Beware, it’s a dangerous process and it has to be developed specifically for our particular device model.

If we also have the system rotated we can also modify some parameters that you can easily manage with an application, such as Kernel Auditor.

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