The kernel acts as a mediator between your programs and your ["Hardware"]. First, it does (or arranges for) the memory management for all of the running programs (processes), and makes sure that they all get a fair (or unfair, if you please) share of the processor's cycles. In addition, it provides a nice, fairly portable interface for programs to talk to your hardware. There is certainly more to the kernel's operation than this, but these basic functions are the most important to know.

A pair number (2.1.13, 2.3.2 ...) is a unstable kernel. An odd number is a stable and ready for ["compilation"] and use (2.0.36, 2.2.17, 2.4.9 ...).

The last kernel version number appears at http://www.kernel.org and you can see your kernel version typing

uname -r

or

kernelversion

in a ["terminal"].

The kernel is generally in the ["?BootDirectory"] (/boot).

See :