In this project, you will develop a Linux module that will access and use some
in-memory structures related to files and file systems. But first you will need to
learn how to write a Linux kernel module. Then you will write the desired module.
You can do the project in a Linux system installed on bare hardware or on a virtual
machine. You will use 64-bit Linux. You are recommended to use Ubuntu 18.04.
Learning Kernel Module Programming
Step 1: Learning how to build a kernel. (If you wish you can skip this step 1 if you
succeed doing step 2 without doing this step 1). First learn how to compile (build)
and run a new Linux kernel, so that you can get prepared to write a kernel module.
Learn from Internet how to build and run a new kernel. Download source code of
Linux kernel, build it (this may take a while one hour or so the first time you do
it) and run it. You can do it on a virtual machine if you wish. If you are doing it
directly on your machine, make sure you backup all your data first, so that if you
mess up the file system and partitions on the disk, you can recover your data. Note
that this part will be quite time consuming, but you will do it only once (until you
get your new kernel running).
Step 2: Learning how to write a module and develop a simple Hello World module. In this step you will learn how to develop and run (load/insert) a new kernel
module. Compiling a module and loading/running it is very easy and fast (just a
few seconds) after you have the right development environment set up. There is documentation available on the web about Linux kernel module programming. Search
for Linux kernel module programming. Below are two good references to start with.
They can be reached from the course website. Read this documentation. Do some
simple exercises. Write a hello world program. You can write and test other simple
modules as well.
1. The Linux Kernel Module Programming Guide,
2. Linux Device Drivers, Third Edition,
(especially the Chapter 2: Building and Running Modules).
Develop a Kernel Module to In-Memory File Structures
Implement a Linux kernel module to get and print some file system and file related
information from some in-memory kernel structures related to processes, files, file
systems and block I/O.
Your module will retrieve the required information from the related kernel data
structures: the PCB of the process, open file table, file objects, and block cache.
Your module will be a kernel code that can be loaded (inserted) and unloaded (removed) while the system (kernel) is up and running, without rebooting the system.
It will be loaded with the insmod command. The module will take one argument,
a process identifier (processpid – an integer value), while being loaded using insmod. When loaded, a kernel module becomes part of the running kernel and runs
in kernel mode and space with kernel privileges. The name of the parameter will
be —processid, both inside your module code and while inserting the module at
Below are the things that your module will do.
1. It will first find the PCB (task structure) of the process whose pid is specified
at the command line while inserting the module. For that, your module can
traverse the process list (PCB list). Depending on the kernel version, there
may be a current variable in Linux kernel that is pointing to the PCB (of
type tast struct *) of the currently running (scheduled) process. Starting from
current, you can traverse the list of PCBs until you find the PCB of the process
with the given pid. The PCBs of processes are linked together (double linked
list) in Linux kernel. There can be some other ways to traverse the process
list; you can learn from Internet.
2. After finding the PCB, your module will print information about the file descriptors and open files of the process. This information can be found by
following the fs and files fields (of type fs struct and files struct) of
the PCB of the process. The fs struct structure stores some file system information and files struct structure stores open file information.
3. Access the open file information of the process and for each descriptor used,
print the following information: descriptor number (index into the table/array),
current file position pointer, user’s id, process access mode, name of the file
(from dentry – directory entry – object), inode number of the file (from inode
object of the file which is accessible through the dentry object), file length
(from inode object) in bytes, number of blocks allocated to the file.
4. By accessing the necessary structures, print the following information as well:
name of the current directory of the process (follow the fs field of the task
structure), blocks that are cached for the process in the page cache (buffer
5. Access the buffer cache and print information about some 100 blocks (buffers)
there. For each such buffer print the following information: the storage device
the block is in, the block number, use count.
6. Some more information that you will print may be requested later (after the
project is assigned). We will do the necessary announcements.
7. Write an application program that will work with files: create, write, read
files. Using your module inspect what is happening in the kernel while your
application is running and using the files. Put your observations into a report.
The printing will be done by using the printk() kernel function. You can not use
printf in kernel (since standard C library is not linked with kernel). The output will
go to a kernel log file (in /var/log/) that can be examined later by using commands
like dmesg, more, cat, tail, etc.
Put your report.pdf file, your program files, a Makefile, and a README.txt file into
a directory named with your ID (for a group, a single file will be uploaded using
the ID of one of the students). Then tar and gzip the directory. For example a
student with ID 21404312 will create a directory named 21404312 and will put the
files there. Then he will tar the directory (package the directory) as follows:
tar cvf 21404312.tar 21404312
Then he will gzip the tar file as follows:
In this way he will obtain a file called 21404312.tar.gz. Then he will upload this file
Late submission will not be accepted (no exception). A late submission will get
0 automatically (you will not be able to argue it). Make sure you make a submission
one day before the deadline. You can then overwrite it.
 The Linux Kernel Module Programming Guide,
 Linux Device Drivers, Third Edition,
(especially the Chapter 2: Building and Running Modules).
Tips and Clarifications
• We will insert your module in our virtual machines and see if it is working and
doing the desired things. We can also call you for a demo. You may need to
bring your computer (laptop or desktop).