10 Best Linux Kernel Courses and Certifications Online

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Close up iPhone showing Udemy application and laptop with notebookThe Linux kernel is the core component of the Linux operating system, responsible for managing system resources and facilitating communication between hardware and software. As such, it is a critical component for developers and engineers working with Linux-based systems. In recent years, a number of online courses have emerged aimed at helping individuals improve their knowledge and skills related to the Linux kernel. This article provides an overview of some of the best options available, highlighting the key features and benefits of each course.

Here’s a look at the Best Linux Kernel Courses and Certifications Online and what they have to offer for you!

10 Best Linux Kernel Courses and Certifications Online

1. Linux kernel Module and driver Programming for x86 by Shakil khan (Udemy) (Our Best Pick)

This course, titled “Linux kernel Module and driver Programming for x86”, provides a comprehensive guide to system call and Linux internals on x86 platform. The course aims to familiarize students with kernel compilations and different ways to achieve the same. It also introduces the character device Driver and explains details like copy_to_user and copy_from_user. Additionally, the concept of Jiffies and a practical example of working Jiffies code is covered. The course is designed to explain in-depth about debugfs and its various calls.

With the help of power point, this course explains how system call works, providing various ways a system call can be invoked using software interrupt or directly invoking the syscall layer. By the end of this course, students will be well-versed in kernel compilation and writing modules on Linux kernel. The course also guides students as to how to effectively get involved with Linux open source community and write patches which would be accepted upstream.

This lecture series is intended to build a niche in students who are devoted in kernel programming but couldn’t gather enough resource at a single location to build a career out of it. The course gives building blocks to students to understand the kernel, driver, file system, compilation, module insertion, deletion, device file, communication between user level and kernel level, and how to code from kernel perspective rather than general c code. In-depth details of the explanation of concepts to communicate with kernel using either copy_from_user, copy_to_user, or using the debugfs or proc fs are also covered.

The course also provides a detailed explanation of how to use virtual machines like VMware fusion or VMware workstation to set up a system for Linux kernel compilation and programming. Since virtual machines can take snapshots, if there is a problem, students can simply revert to older snapshots for quick development without corrupting the entire operating system. The course content and sections include Linux kernel Module Programming.

2. Concepts of Operating Systems by Sujithkumar MA (Udemy)

The “Concepts of Operating Systems” course, instructed by Sujithkumar MA, aims to teach learners the fundamental concepts of Operating Systems from scratch. Upon completion, learners will be able to explain all of the course’s concepts. The course covers topics such as different types of operating systems, kernel responsibilities, shell commands, process control, synchronization problems, scheduling algorithms, deadlock issues, and memory management techniques. The course also includes examples to help learners understand the implementation of various algorithms. This beginner-friendly course has no prerequisites and covers mandatory concepts in OS in a single course.

3. Developing a Multithreaded Kernel From Scratch! by Daniel McCarthy (Udemy)

The course “Developing a Multithreaded Kernel From Scratch!” is taught by Daniel McCarthy, an expert with 15 years of experience as a software engineer. The course is designed for individuals with no prior experience in programming kernels, and teaches them how to create a multitasking operating system and kernel from scratch.

The “Real Mode Development” section of the course covers the boot process, memory, and writing a boot loader in assembly language. The boot loader that is created will output a simple “Hello World!” message to the screen. In this section, students also learn about interrupts in real mode and how to create them, providing them with a basic understanding of kernel development.

In the “Protected Mode Development” section, students learn how to create a 32 bit multitasking kernel with the FAT16 filesystem. The course covers paging, virtual memory, memory virtualization, and the creation of a virtual filesystem layer. Students also learn about the design of the FAT16 filesystem and how to create their own FAT16 filesystem driver. Additionally, the course covers memory management, the implementation of the “malloc” and “free” functions, keyboard drivers, and an ELF file loader.

By the end of the course, students will have a fully functioning 32 bit multitasking kernel with the ability to run multiple processes and tasks at the same time. The course includes an optional “Assembly Language Catchup” section to help individuals with little to no experience in assembly language. The course is taught in a clear and concise manner, providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to create their own operating system and kernel.

4. Linux Kernel Development Model and Compilation by Linux Trainer (Udemy)

Course Title: Linux Kernel Development Model and Compilation

Course Instructors: Linux Trainer

Course Short Description: This course aims to provide an understanding of the development process of Linux Kernel and enable the students to install the latest mainline/stable kernel on their PC.

Course Long Description: This course covers a wide range of topics related to Linux Kernel Development. The course has been updated recently with the addition of a section on Raspberry Pi.

The course covers the following topics:

– Development process in Linux Kernel
– Various roles in development – Developer, Maintainer, sub-maintainer
– Various Linux Kernel Trees
– Things to know when sending patches
– Linux Kernel Release Cycle
– Types of Kernel Releases – Mainline, stable, Long-Term
– Configuring, Compiling, Installing Your own Linux Kernel
– Various Linux Kernel Configuration Techniques – oldconfig, defconfig, savedefconfig, xconfig, menuconfig
– How to cross compile Linux Kernel
– How to build only portion of Linux Kernel

The course is divided into two main sections. The first section covers the Linux Development Model, including the roles of the developers, maintainers, and sub-maintainers. The different Linux Kernel Trees and the release cycle are also discussed.

The second section of the course covers the process of configuring, building, and installing your own Linux Kernel. Different techniques for kernel configuration, such as oldconfig, defconfig, savedefconfig, xconfig, and menuconfig, are explained. Additionally, the course teaches how to cross-compile the kernel and how to build only a portion of the kernel.

The course has recently added a section on building Linux Kernel for Raspberry Pi3. This section includes instructions on downloading and installing the necessary software and tools for building a kernel for Raspberry Pi3.

5. Linux Kernel Driver Programming with Embedded Devices by AJ Singh (Udemy)

The Linux Kernel Driver Programming with Embedded Devices course teaches beginners and intermediates how to write a Linux kernel module and device driver for PCI device, GPIO, USB, and pseudo Network device with PING functionality. The course covers cross-compilation and porting kernel image to an embedded device, setting up NFS and tftpboot server, and boot-loader such as uboot and other aspects of Embedded Systems. The course includes 33 videos with 6 sections and notes and C source code for drivers.

Recently, the course has added 3 bonus videos on Embedded Linux booting process in ARM, which covers ARM general purpose and special registers, Vector table, and boot process when reset button is pressed. Another bonus section called Miscellaneous has been created, which covers topics on User and Kernel Virtual memory address space, copy_to_user and copy_from_user tools required to build kernel module, and more.

The instructor is open to adding more lectures to the Miscellaneous section if needed, and is also planning to add another section soon covering topics on Direct Memory Access (DMA), Direct Cache Access (DCA), Scatter Gather List (SGL), Zero copying, etc. The course is designed for beginners in Embedded Systems or Device driver programming, but intermediates can also benefit from it.

6. Learn Linux Kernel Programming by Linux Trainer (Udemy)

The Learn Linux Kernel Programming course offered by Linux Trainer is designed to teach learners how to write Linux Kernel Modules and Device Drivers. The course is practical and includes real-world examples to facilitate proper training. Learners will have lifetime access to the course and can learn at their own pace. The course includes over 100 lectures on Linux Kernel Programming, covering topics such as various kernel modules, Linux commands, and API’s. Learners will also have access to their instructors for questions and help through the Udemy communication channels. The course comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The course includes over 5 hours of video teaching and training and covers topics such as the hello world kernel module, writing kernel modules that export symbols, accepting parameters, and creating kernel threads, and the printk function. Learners will also learn various commands used while working in Linux Kernel Modules, including insmod, rmmod, modprobe, lsmod, and dmesg. All examples and notes used in the course are available for download.

The course covers API’s, including module_param, module_param_array, EXPORT_SYMBOL, EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL, MODULE_INFO, KBUILD_MODNAME, dump_stack, panic, BUG(), for_each_process, num_online_cpus, printk_rate_limit, printk_once, print_hex_dump, print_hex_dump_bytes, current, kthread_create, wake_up_process, kthread_stop, kthread_should_stop, kthread_run, usleep_range, msleep, smp_processor_id, and VERMAGIC_STRING.

The course is broken down into several sections, including Introduction, Linux Kernel Module Internals, Module Parameters, Exporting Symbols, Module Licenses, Module Metadata, Printk, System call for loading module, Kernel Panic, Oops, Bug, Process Management in Linux Kernel, Kernel Threads, Module Support for Multiple Kernels, and Bonus Section. The Bonus Section was updated on Dec 12th, 2020, and includes additional videos.

7. Linux Kernel Programming – IPC b/w Userspace and KernelSpace by Abhishek CSEPracticals, Shiwani Nigam, Ekta Ekta (Udemy)

This course is titled Linux Kernel Programming – IPC b/w Userspace and KernelSpace and is instructed by Abhishek CSEPracticals, Shiwani Nigam, Ekta Ekta. The course focuses on System Programming and covers Netlink Sockets, Operating Systems, Loadable Kernel Modules, and C programming from scratch. The course is designed to teach bidirectional IPC with kernel space through the use of Netlink Sockets. Students will learn how to exchange Netlink Messages between the kernel and userspace.

The course is an excellent starting point for those who are writing kernel code for the first time. Students will write a lot of userspace and kernel code to understand netlink-based communication. C programming skills are necessary for this course.

The course is divided into eight sections. Section 1 covers setting up the development environment. Section 2 focuses on writing Linux Kernel Modules, while Section 3 covers the basics of Netlink Sockets. Section 4 provides theoretical knowledge about Netlink Communication before coding. Sections 5 and 6 discuss how to write a first Netlink program. Section 7 covers the concept of TLVs, and Section 8 discusses selective event-based notification.

The course’s table of contents includes Setting Up Development Environment, Writing Your First Linux Kernel Module, Understanding Netlink Sockets, Netlink Msg Format Specification – Theory Before Coding, NetLink Greet Example – Kernel Space, NetLink Greet Example Continued – User Space, Netlink Attributes – The Concept of TLVs, and Selective Event-based Notification.

8. Linux Device Drivers – Communicating with Hardware by Linux Trainer (Udemy)

The Linux Device Drivers – Communicating with Hardware course focuses on Linux kernel programming for IO mapped and memory mapped devices. The course covers two modes of communication with hardware: IO mapped IO and memory mapped IO. It also includes kernel drivers/modules for various devices such as the speaker, RTC, keyboard, hardware random generator, GPIO, and UART. The course teaches accessing IO mapped IO and memory mapped IO from user space, as well as PCI and SMBIOS, API’s/Macros/Structures, and various commands.

The course covers different functions and structures relevant to IO mapped IO and memory mapped IO, including inb, outb, inw, outw, inl, outl, inb_p, outb_p, inw_p, outw_p, inl_p, outl_p, struct resource, request_region, release_region, ioperm, iopl, geteuid, request_mem_region, release_mem_region, ioremap, iounmap, ioread8, ioread16, ioread32, iowrite8, iowrite16, iowrite32, ioport_map, ioport_unmap, and mmap. Files covered in the course include /dev/port, /dev/mem, /proc/iomem, and /proc/ioports.

In addition to the technical content, the course includes various commands such as hwclock, date, showkey, hexdump, strings, dd, lspci, biosdecode, and dmidecode. The course is divided into different sections, including the introduction, IO mapped IO, RTC, keyboard, user space IO access, memory mapped IO, SMBIOS, PCI, and notes.

9. Memory Management in Linux Kernel by Linux Trainer (Udemy)

The course titled “Memory Management in Linux Kernel,” led by a Linux Trainer, covers the topic of Linux Kernel Programming in-depth. It includes an overview of the physical address space and how to view it in Linux, as well as the virtual address space of the processor. The course also explores kernel and user space virtual address space, pages, and page faults. Additionally, students will learn how to convert virtual addresses into physical addresses and the format specifiers used to print them.

This course delves into low memory and high memory and covers the memory allocation mechanism known as Buddy Allocator. It also includes a discussion on zones and /proc/buddyinfo, dynamic memory allocation in Linux Kernel, and various flags used in kmalloc such as GFP_KERNEL, GFP_ATOMIC, and GFP_DMA. The differences between kmalloc and vmalloc are also explained, and what happens when you pass 0 in kmalloc and vmalloc.

APIs covered in this course include virt_to_phys, phys_to_virt, kmalloc, kfree, krealloc, ksize, vmalloc, and vfree. The course also covers the kernel stack. The course content is divided into two parts, Memory Management Part 1 and Memory Management Part 2. Additional resources are also provided.

Added notes/examples used in the course are available as of October 16th, 2020.

10. Linux Kernel Driver Development by Sandesh Ashok (Udemy)

The Linux Kernel Driver Development course, taught by Sandesh Ashok, is geared towards beginners looking to venture into device driver development. The course begins with an overview of Linux kernel architecture and emphasizes the role of device drivers.

The course structure includes an in-depth exploration of the intermediate steps involved in the compilation process and cross-compilation for the target architecture. It also entails gaining an understanding of kernel APIs and building, inserting, and checking the status procedure. The course goes on to cover __init and __exit keywords, character driver implementation, read and write operations for the character driver, and creating and submitting the first Linux kernel patch.

The course is designed to provide a solid foundation for beginners in device driver development. The course is updated periodically with additional drivers and techniques for debugging the drivers. The course concludes with a hands-on approach to apply theory and lecture to practical applications.

Overall, this course is an ideal starting point for beginners and provides the necessary tools for them to excel in device driver development.