Linux Kernel Naming


I know what’s in a name. And all of you since your RHCE Training days knows that linux kernel name starts with vmlinuz.

But lets learn a very interesting naming story behind Linux Kernel.

We all know that linux kernel is stored under /boot directory and the name of the kernel starts with vmlinuz.

It can be something like this – vmlinuz-3.8.0-19-generic

Now here goes the story. Once upon a time ….

Inspired from unix days. The name vmlinuz comes from the unix world where they used to call their kernels simply “unix” back in the 60′s so Linux started calling their kernel “linux” when it was first developed in the 90′s.

When virtual memory was developed for easier multitasking abilities, “vm” was put at the front of the file to show that the kernel supports virtual memory.

For a while the Linux kernel was called vmlinux, but the kernel grew too large to fit in the available boot memory so the kernel image was compressed and the ending x was changed to a z to show it was compressed with zlib compression. This same compression isn’t always used, often replaced with LZMA or BZIP2, and some kernels are simply called zImage.

Now you know, the importance of knowing the meaning behind the name.

Linux Kernel Naming

Linux Kernel Naming