If you’re new to Unix administration, the word kernel might intimidate you. After all, the kernel is one of those secret parts of a computer that mere mortals are not meant to dabble in. In some versions of Unix, kernel tampering is unthinkable. Microsoft doesn’t advertise that its operating systems even have kernels, which is like glossing over the fact that human beings have brains.1 While high-level users can access the kernel through a variety of methods, this isn’t widely acknowledged or encouraged. In many parts of the open source Unix-like world, however, meddling with the kernel is a very viable and expected way to change ...

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