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What is the difference between system daemons and kernels?

The world of computer systems is complex, and understanding its different components and how they interact with each other can be challenging.

Two essential components of any computer system are system daemons and kernels. While they may sound similar, they serve different purposes, and understanding their differences is crucial for system administrators and developers.

This post will explain the differences between system daemons and kernels and their roles in a computer system.

What is a Kernel?

The kernel is a fundamental component of an operating system (OS). It is a software layer between the hardware and the rest of the software on the computer. The kernel manages the computer’s resources, such as memory, processing power, and input/output operations. It bridges the hardware and the applications, enabling them to access the resources they need to function correctly.

The kernel has several critical responsibilities. Firstly, it manages the system’s memory, allocating and deallocating it as needed. Secondly, it schedules tasks, determining which applications get to run and when. The kernel also handles input/output operations, enabling applications to interact with hardware components such as the hard disk or network card. Lastly, the kernel manages system security by enforcing user permissions and preventing unauthorized access to system resources.

What are System Daemons?

System daemons, also known as background processes, are programs that run in the background of an operating system, performing specific tasks. They are usually started when the computer boots up and runs continuously, waiting for a specific event or condition to occur. System daemons are responsible for many essential tasks, such as handling network connections, managing printers, and running backups.

System daemons are independent of the user’s session and run with system-level permissions, enabling them to access all system resources. This allows them to perform tasks that regular applications cannot, such as starting or stopping other processes, modifying system settings, and interacting with hardware components directly.

Differences Between Kernels and System Daemons

While the kernel and system daemons may sound similar, they have several fundamental differences. The following are some of the key differences between kernels and system daemons.


The kernel is responsible for managing the computer’s resources, including memory, processing power, and input/output operations. In contrast, system daemons are responsible for performing specific tasks in the background, such as handling network connections or running backups.


The kernel has the highest level of privileges in the system, enabling it to access all system resources and perform critical tasks such as managing memory and scheduling tasks. In contrast, system daemons run with system-level permissions but have limited privileges compared to the kernel.


The kernel is an essential component of the operating system and is always running. However, system daemons are started when the system boots up and run continuously in the background, waiting for a specific event or condition to occur.

Interaction with Applications

Applications interact with the kernel indirectly through system calls, which the kernel handles. In contrast, applications can interact with system daemons directly using specific protocols or APIs.

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