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2.2 Kernel Organization

In this section, we view the organization of the 4.4BSD kernel in two ways:

  1. As a static body of software, categorized by the functionality offered by the modules that make up the kernel

  2. By its dynamic operation, categorized according to the services provided to users

The largest part of the kernel implements the system services that applications access through system calls. In 4.4BSD, this software has been organized according to the following:

Table 2-1. Machine-independent software in the 4.4BSD kernel

Category Lines of code Percentage of kernel
headers 9,393 4.6
initialization 1,107 0.6
kernel facilities 8,793 4.4
generic interfaces 4,782 2.4
interprocess communication 4,540 2.2
terminal handling 3,911 1.9
virtual memory 11,813 5.8
vnode management 7,954 3.9
filesystem naming 6,550 3.2
fast filestore 4,365 2.2
log-structure filestore 4,337 2.1
memory-based filestore 645 0.3
cd9660 filesystem 4,177 2.1
miscellaneous filesystems (10) 12,695 6.3
network filesystem 17,199 8.5
network communication 8,630 4.3
internet protocols 11,984 5.9
ISO protocols 23,924 11.8
X.25 protocols 10,626 5.3
XNS protocols 5,192 2.6
total machine independent 162,617 80.4

Most of the software in these categories is machine independent and is portable across different hardware architectures.

The machine-dependent aspects of the kernel are isolated from the mainstream code. In particular, none of the machine-independent code contains conditional code for specific architecture. When an architecture-dependent action is needed, the machine-independent code calls an architecture-dependent function that is located in the machine-dependent code. The software that is machine dependent includes

Table 2-2. Machine-dependent software for the HP300 in the 4.4BSD kernel

Category Lines of code Percentage of kernel
machine dependent headers 1,562 0.8
device driver headers 3,495 1.7
device driver source 17,506 8.7
virtual memory 3,087 1.5
other machine dependent 6,287 3.1
routines in assembly language 3,014 1.5
HP/UX compatibility 4,683 2.3
total machine dependent 39,634 19.6

Table 2-1 summarizes the machine-independent software that constitutes the 4.4BSD kernel for the HP300. The numbers in column 2 are for lines of C source code, header files, and assembly language. Virtually all the software in the kernel is written in the C programming language; less than 2 percent is written in assembly language. As the statistics in Table 2-2 show, the machine-dependent software, excluding HP/UX and device support, accounts for a minuscule 6.9 percent of the kernel.

Only a small part of the kernel is devoted to initializing the system. This code is used when the system is bootstrapped into operation and is responsible for setting up the kernel hardware and software environment (see Chapter 14). Some operating systems (especially those with limited physical memory) discard or overlay the software that performs these functions after that software has been executed. The 4.4BSD kernel does not reclaim the memory used by the startup code because that memory space is barely 0.5 percent of the kernel resources used on a typical machine. Also, the startup code does not appear in one place in the kernel -- it is scattered throughout, and it usually appears in places logically associated with what is being initialized.

This, and other documents, can be downloaded from

For questions about FreeBSD, read the documentation before contacting <>.
For questions about this documentation, e-mail <>.

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