Kernel vs. Operating System

Difference Between Kernel and Operating System

The software managing the computer is called an Operating System. It manages computer resources and accommodates their communication needs. The main part of the operating system which communicates directly with the hardware resources is called Kernel. Operating system cannot work without the Kernel. Most of the users are unknown to the kernel as it remains buried with many other components.

Operating System

An operating system is a set of data and programs which manage the hardware resources of a computer. It acts like an interface layer between the applications and the hardware. In this way it accommodates the application software. It carries out functions like input, output, and memory related operations. An operating system is necessary for running other applications. Without an operating system a user cannot run other applications. So, it is the most important software system in a computer. All types of machines have operating system. Microsoft windows, Linux, UNIX, BSD are some of the most popular operating systems today. Microsoft Windows is the most popular in commercial enterprises. Academic professional prefer UNIX based OS because it is free to use while Windows is costly.


Kernel is a bridge between the hardware and application software in computer. It is the main part of an operating system. It manages the system resources such as software and hardware communication resources. A low level abstraction layer between input/output devices and processor is provided by the kernel. There are different types of kernels based on the design and implementation. Its type is also depends on the task of an operating system. The monolithic kernels execute all the system codes in the same address space. Microkernel runs most of the services in the user space. These are the two extremes and there are many approaches between them.

Difference between Kernel and Operating System

A kernel is the lowest level of the operating system. It is the kernel in an operating system on which all other parts of the operating system depends such as file management, shell and graphical user interface. It makes communication with hardware. It is the part of an operating system. It provides the callable routines which are necessary for displaying graphics, accessing files, and getting keyboard and mouse inputs. On the other hand Operating System is software of which Kernel is the basic part.


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  • Patti

    Didn’t clarify hardly anything. For example, is the kernel responsible for task scheduling or something else in the OS?