Simple question - complicated answers

Bart Silverstrim bsilver at
Thu Sep 27 14:57:49 UTC 2007

Tony Arnold wrote:
> Liam,
> On Thu, 2007-09-27 at 12:27 +0100, Liam Proven wrote:
>> On 26/09/2007, alex <aradsky at> wrote:
>>> It's a little maddening to get answers  that dance all around a simple
>>> question.
>> It's not a simple question. It's a vaguely-worded and deeply imprecise
>> question that appears to betray a profound ignorance of what an
>> operating system kernel is, or indeed, what an operating system is.
>> It's a silly question asked by a beginner who doesn't really know what
>> he's talking about. You may as well march up to the gates of the
>> Houses of Parliament and demand to see this "democracy" that everyone
>> keeps talking about.
>>> I want to do is see what the kernel looks like.
>> What does the smell of baking cookies look like? What does yellow sound like?
>> Simple questions, but unanswerable.
> I think you are being a little harsh on the OP. The question is
> answerable! Download the kernel source tar ball, unpack it and start
> examining the directory structure and reading the source code.
> Unfortunately,and perhaps this is your point, the above is unlikely to
> be helpful, especially for someone who perhaps does not have an
> understanding of what a kernel is or maybe does not even understand
> code! It's a bit like trying to understand how the brain works by
> mapping out the synapses!

Perhaps the conversation could help get to the point faster if someone 
just asked the OP,

"What exactly are you trying to do?"

Then we'd know if the OP:
1) wants to see the source code
2) wants to know where the kernel is stored, and/or related kernel files
3) wants to know how the kernel works, a la block diagrams
4) wants a visual reference of kernel subsystems

This would distinguish if he or she wants the kernel source 
(!), binary, upgrade procedure, diagrams compared to things 
like NT, a book on programming the kernel,...without intent, it's hard 
to recommend a course of action.

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