Architecture of Linux Operating System

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The architecture of the Linux operating system is a layered structure that includes components that provide flexibility and stability. It can be understood at any level from hardware to kernel to user level. In this article, I will discuss the structure that mainly forms the architecture of the Linux operating system.

What is the Linux Operating System?

Linux is a type of operating system designed based on the principle of Unix. Its source code is open source and free to use, and the community manages it. Just like Windows, Macs, and other operating systems, this operating system is the core of all the Linux Distros. It links the hardware to the user and runs the programs.

What is the Architecture of Linux?

The architecture of Linux is the underlying structured layer like other operating systems. Generally, it has four fundamental layers. Those are: application, shell, kernel, and hardware. It is very important to understand for both the developers and users how each layer is connected and creates the whole system. Below the image, you can see the links between each layer.

An overview of the architecture of Linux operating system

Let’s see the details of all the parts that are included in the architecture of Linux OS:


Hardware is the peripheral and physical components like CPU, RAM, and input and output devices. Some components of hardware are:

  • CPU: The Linux kernel mainly interacts with the CPU (Central Processing Unit). For Linux portability, it is compatible with any other structure of CPU. It is responsible for executing and performing instructions.
  • RAM: The primary memory that is used to store the data and programs that are accessed by the CPU. Linux kernel manages the allocation of the memory to ensure handles all the processes.
  • Input-output device: Linux mainly supports a wide range of input-output devices with the help of a device driver that is the mediator between the hardware layer and the kernel.
    1. The input device includes the keyboard, touchpad, and other devices that mainly help to interact with the computer.
    2. Monitor, printer, and many other peripheral devices are the output devices that mainly show the output to the users.


The kernel is the core of the operating system and it is the foundation of other software that works on top of it. It handles and hides all the complexity and underlying modules of the hardware. It is the foundational layer on which another system operates. Let’s see some of the functions of the kernel:

  • Device Management: Manages all the device hardware parts including the device drivers, input-output operation, and peripheral devices.
  • Manage Resources: The kernel manages the processes of the CPU and all the peripheral devices and acts as the bridge between the resources and processes.
  • Memory Management: Kernel mainly manages memory and provides some benefits
  • System calls: For managing the file operation, memory control, and process control kernel receives system calls to perform requested services.
  • Performation optimization: Balancing all the resources with the memory, optimizes the system performance and boosts the system efficiency. It also schedules the task according to the level of priority.

Types of Kernels in OS Architecture

  1. Monolithic
  2. Microkernel
  3. Hybrid
  4. Nano kernel
  5. Exo kernel

Linux includes a monolithic kernel which makes this OS the most stable and fast.


Shell is the interface that interacts with humans and processes the commands that are given for the execution. One can call it an interpreter because it takes the command from the keyboard and makes it understandable to the kernel. The shell starts when one starts the terminal.

Shells are categorized into two sections:

1. Command Line Shell

The command line Interface is the user interface where the user types commands in a text form. When the user provides the command in the terminal, the shell interprets the commands for the kernel. The shell also has some built-in commands that help the user to navigate, manage, and change the file system.

Types of Command-Line Shell
  • Bourne Shell: One of the earliest Unix shells that provides a simple and efficient command-line interface.
  • Bourne Again Shell (Bash): It’s an extension of the original Bourne Shell and includes additional features, such as command history and job control.
  • CSH ( C Shell): Introduced C-like syntax for command scripting.
  • KSH( Korn Shell): It combines features of the Bourne Shell, C Shell, and Bash, providing a powerful and versatile environment.
  • ZSH (Z Shell): It is highly customizable and user-friendly.

2. Graphical User Shell

The graphical user shell is the user interface using the system’s peripheral components like a mouse, and keyboard. It is beneficial for users who are not familiar with commands. These shells are used to make the desktop environment easier.

Types of Graphical Shell
  • GNOME: GNU Network Object Model Environment (GNOME) is known for its simplicity, modern design, and user-friendliness.
  • KDE Plasma: K Desktop Environment (KDE) is known for its feature-rich and highly customizable interface.
  • Cinnamon: Developed by the Linux Mint team and offers a traditional desktop environment focusing on user-friendliness.


Applications are the programs that the user runs on top of the architecture. The applications are the user space element that includes database applications, media players, web browsers, and presentations.

System Utilities and Libraries

The system utilities and libraries provide a wide range of functions to manage the system. Low-level hardware complexity to high-level user support is served by the system utilities and libraries.

  • System Utilities: It is the program that performs the task which is given by the users and manages the system.
  • System Libraries: Functions through which the system interacts with the kernel and handles all the functionalities without the kernel privileges.

System Components of Linux Architecture

System components generally refer to the various software and hardware elements that make up the operating system and enable it to function. Some system components of Linux architecture are:

  • Bootloader: The startup or restarting process is called booting. For booting every operating system needs a bootloader. The boot loader initiates when one turns on his computer. LILO, GRUB, and BURG are the popular bootloaders in Linux Distributions.
  • Init System: While booting the system, there is an initialization in which the short form is init. It is a daemon process which is the direct or indirect parent process for other child and orphan processes and continues until the shutdown of the system.
  • Server: It is very popular for providing the server facility. The popular servers are OpenSSH, MySQL, and Apache. It creates the structure for hosting several server facilities like web servers, database servers, and email servers.
  • Desktop Environment: The users mainly interact with the desktop environment which provides a user-friendly interface. Common Linux desktop environments are GNOME, KDE Plasma, Cinnamon, and Mate. It has built-in applications that help the users manage the system.


This article illustrates the layers and the components of the Linux OS. It will help one to understand how each layer of Linux OS architecture is interconnected and how the Linux operating system operates sequentially.

People Also Ask

What is the kernel type of Linux?

The kernel type of Linux is the monolithic kernel that serves all the functions including file, resource, and memory management. As it has a simple monolithic kernel, it has one single address for the entire operating system.

Why is Linux referred to as a modular design system?

Modular design refers to the system in which the components are independent and if any changes or updates are done then it will not affect the other component. So one can install a single component and design it according to his preference. Linux mainly follows this type of structure which includes the properties of the modular design.

What is a Linux architecture diagram?

The Linux architecture is the visual representation that shows all the components and how the layers interact with each other. This diagram mainly helps the user understand how the component’s kernel, hardware, and user level create the architecture.

What is the file structure in the architecture of Linux?

Linux comes with a hierarchical file structure where all files are categorized by their type and stored in a specific directory. There are different kinds of directories like Binary directory (bin), Unix system resource (USR), configuration directory (conf), data directory, and memory directory.

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Afia Zahin Oishi

Assalamualaikum, I am Afia Zahin, completed my graduation in Biomedical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, currently working as a Linux Content Developer Executive at SOFTEKO. A high achieving professional with a strong work ethic and able to work in a team in order to consistently achieve my goal and build my skillset. Able to handle difficult problems with patience and swift decision-making. Read Full Bio

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