monolithic kernel

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monolithic kernel

An operating system architecture for a particular platform that includes all OS functions such as the file system, virtual memory manager, application interprocess communication and drivers. Contrast with microkernel. See kernel.
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By giving users a true distributed file system with access to everything (files, networks, processes) through the file system Inferno (see www.lucent.com/inferno) and Plan9 (plan9.bell-labs.com/plan9), monolithic kernels are extensible for the user.
A Web server is four times faster on a microkernel system, as opposed to running on a monolithic kernel (see www.pdos.lcs.mit.edu/exo).
And, as was often explained by the late Dan Hildebrand of QNX, it is more difficult to build a fast microkernel, than a fast monolithic kernel. But nowhere in Torvalds' article did I find as the most important goal of Linux: to be simple to implement.
Most early operating systems were implemented by means of large monolithic kernels. Loosely speaking, the complete operating system-scheduling, file system, networking, device drivers, memory management, paging, and more -- was packed into a single kernel.
* Microkernels must efficiently support new types of applications that cannot be implemented with good performance on conventional monolithic kernels. This progressive criterion must be satisfied for a real advance in operating-system technology.
Indeed, most early microkernels evolved step by step from monolithic kernels, remaining rich in concepts and large in code size.
Most older microkernels evolved from monolithic kernels and did not achieve sufficient flexibility and performance.