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Loadable kernel modules

(also LKM)

Loadable kernel modules definition

Loadable kernel modules are software components that can be dynamically loaded and unloaded into the kernel of an operating system without requiring a system reboot.

They extend the functionality of the kernel by adding or modifying device drivers, file systems, networking protocols, and other essential kernel-level features.

See also: kernel

The advantages of loadable kernel modules

  • Dynamic Functionality Extension. Kernel modules let administrators and developers add or modify features without recompiling or rebooting the kernel, adapting to changing requirements seamlessly.
  • Device Driver Support. LKMs are vital for supporting various hardware devices. They enable dynamic loading of device drivers, allowing the kernel to recognize and interact with different components like network interfaces, storage devices, and input/output devices.
  • Memory and Resource Optimization. Loadable kernel modules optimize system resources by loading modules on demand. This reduces memory usage and system footprint, enhancing performance by unloading unused modules.
  • Easy Debugging and Testing. Kernel modules facilitate debugging and testing of specific features or drivers. They enable developers to debug code in a controlled environment without affecting system stability.
  • Third-Party Software Integration. Loadable kernel modules enable integration of third-party software, extending the kernel's capabilities without modifying the core codebase. This supports proprietary functionality and specialized hardware, empowering vendors and developers.