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Nano kernel

(also nanokernel)

Nano kernel definition

A nano kernel is an operating system architecture that provides the bare minimum services required for the system to work. It does only the most necessary tasks, like managing basic computer operations and allowing parts of the system to talk to each other. More complex tasks are delegated to other components of the operating system.

See also: kernel, loadable kernel modules, trusted computing

History of a nano kernel

Microkernels emerged in the 1980s as a way to make kernels more maintainable and reliable by simplifying them. Nano kernels took this idea further, doing even less. This way, they met the need for highly efficient and secure systems, especially in embedded and real-time environments.

Nano kernel functions

The functions of a nano kernel vary based on its implementation, but typically include:

  • Low-level hardware management. Controls the main parts of the computer like the CPU and memory.
  • Context switching. Changes focus between different processes or tasks in the computer.
  • Inter-process communication (IPC). Helps different parts of the system share information.
  • Scheduling. Decides which task the CPU should do next, although this is sometimes offloaded to more complex layers.
  • Interrupt handling. Responds to and manages sudden demands or changes in the system.

Benefits of a nano kernel

  • Flexibility. A nano kernel allows for a modular system where features are easy to add or remove as needed.
  • Efficiency and performance. Small in size, nano kernels are fast and don't use much power, which makes them suitable for systems with limited resources.
  • Security. The lower complexity means fewer chances for errors or security issues.