next up previous contents
Next: Memory Management Up: What is an Operating Previous: The Filesystems

Kernel Data Structures

The operating system must keep a lot of information about the current state of the system. As things happen within the system these data structures must be changed to reflect the current reality. For example, a new process might be spawned when a user logged into the system. The kernel must create a data structure representing the new process. The scheduler can then use it if it decides to schedule that process to run when it is its turn.

Mostly these data structures exist in physical memory and are accessible only by the kernel and its subsystems. Data structures contain data and pointers; addresses of other data structures or the addresses of routines. Taken all together, the data structures used by the Linux kernel can look very confusing. Every data structure has a purpose and although some are used by several kernel subsystems, they are more simple than at first seen. This book bases its description of the Linux kernel on its data structures. It talks about each kernel subsystem in terms of its algorithms, its methods of getting things done, and their usage of the kernel's data structures.

REVIEW NOTE: Add notes describing linked lists (single and double).

David A. Rusling