Kernel panic

Updated: 05/19/2017 by Computer Hope
Kernel panic

Kernel panic is the action taken by an operating system kernel when it encounters a fatal error from which it can't safely recover. The term is usually used in reference to Unix and Unix-like operating systems such as Linux and BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution). It is similar to the condition of Windows operating systems known as the blue screen of death.

When an operating system panics, it displays an error message on the screen, and writes the contents of kernel memory (a core dump) to disk for later debugging. It then halts all CPU (central processing unit) operation. It then either reboots automatically or waits for the user to manually reboot the machine, depending on how the operating system is configured.

A kernel panic is different than a system crash. With a crash, the kernel detects an abnormal condition, and forcefully terminates software execution. It does so to minimize the likelihood of data loss or another corruption of the state of the machine. However, in a kernel panic, the kernel itself terminates abnormally.

Debugging, Operating system, Operating system terms