The main difference between Windows Kernel and Linux Kernel is that Windows kernel, which is in Windows Operating System, is a commercial software while Linux Kernel, which is in the Linux Operating System, is an open source software.
The kernel is the core of the operating system. It performs functionalities such as communicating with hardware devices, process management, file handling, and many other tasks. Various operating systems have different kernels depending on the type of OS. Moreover, devices in Windows and Linux have different kernels.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Windows Kernel
– Definition, Functionality
2. What is Linux Kernel
– Definition, Functionality
3. What is the Difference Between Windows Kernel and Linux Kernel
– Comparison of Key Differences
Kernel, Linux Kernel, Windows Kernel
What is Windows Kernel
The devices with the Microsoft Windows operating system consist of the windows kernel. This kernel is called the Windows NT kernel. It is capable of working with both uniprocessor and symmetrical multiprocessor-based computers, and therefore, referred to as hybrid kernel as well. Windows architecture consists of windows kernel, hardware abstraction layer (HAL), drivers and other supporting services. These services operate in the kernel mode.
Furthermore, the windows system can operate in two modes: the user mode and kernel mode. The programs running in the user mode has limited access to system resources. However, the programs running in the kernel model has no restrictions to access system memory, hardware, and resources. The user mode is capable of sending IO requests to the relevant kernel mode device drivers by using the IO manager.
The Windows kernel performs various functionalities including multiprocessor synchronization, supporting threads, interrupt scheduling, and dispatching. It also handles the traps and exceptions. Moreover, the kernel initializes the device drives at the time of booting up the system.
What is Linux Kernel
The kernel in the Linux based systems is called a Linux kernel. One major reason for the popularity of the Linux kernel is that it is free and open source. It has contributors all over the world.
In Linux systems, the user programs can interact with the kernel by the Application Programming Interface (API). The device drivers control the hardware as a part of kernel’s functionality. There is an interface between the kernel and loadable kernel modules (LKMs).
Moreover, the Linux kernel exists in the personal computers and servers. It is available in embedded devices such as routers, wireless access points, PBXes, smart TVs, etc. as well. The popular mobile operating system Android also uses the Linux kernel to implement its functionalities.
Difference Between Windows Kernel and Linux Kernel
Windows kernel is a commercial kernel of Windows operating system developed by Microsoft. In contrast, the Linux kernel is an open source Unix-like computer operating system kernel. Hence, this is the main difference between Windows Kernel and Linux Kernel.
Microsoft developed the Windows kernel while Linux Torvalds developed Linux kernel.
Access to Source Code
Access to source code is another difference between Windows Kernel and Linux Kernel. There is no access to source code of the windows kernel. However, there is full access to the source code of the Linux kernel.
Moreover, one other difference between Windows Kernel and Linux Kernel is that the Windows kernel has hybrid architecture, but Linux kernel has monolithic architecture.
File Access Control
Furthermore, Windows uses Access Control List (ACL) for file access control. In contrast, Linux uses traditional Unix permissions and POSIX ACL for file access control.
GUI stack is another difference between Windows Kernel and Linux Kernel. Windows includes a GUI stack in the kernel. However, in Linux, the GUI stack is in the user-space.
Support for Multi-users
Besides, Windows support multiple users and sessions but depend on the versions and editions. Meanwhile, Linux supports 100 % multi-user environment.
Configurations is also a difference between Windows Kernel and Linux Kernel. Windows maintain a registry to store configurations while Linux maintains the configurations in files.
While Windows kernel has different mechanisms for different devices, every device is a file for the Linux kernel. Therefore, this is one important difference between Windows Kernel and Linux Kernel.
The difference between Windows Kernel and Linux Kernel is that the Windows kernel, which is in the Windows Operating System, is a commercial software while the Linux Kernel, which is in the Linux Operating System, is an open source software.
1. “Architecture of Windows NT.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Oct. 2018, Available here.
2. “Linux Kernel.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Nov. 2018,
3. “Comparison of Operating System Kernels.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Oct. 2018, Available here.