In the context of the Linux kernel, what is vmlinuz?

In the context of the Linux kernel, vmlinuz is a compressed version of the Linux kernel executable. The name "vmlinuz" stands for "virtual memory Linux kernel zapped" or "vmlinuz" ("z" for compressed). It is a common naming convention for the compressed Linux kernel image used in many Linux distributions.

The Linux kernel is the core component of the operating system that interacts directly with hardware and manages system resources. The kernel image is typically stored as a binary executable file on the system's boot partition. However, to conserve space and optimize boot times, the kernel image is often compressed using techniques like gzip, making it significantly smaller in size.

When a computer boots, the bootloader (such as GRUB) loads the vmlinuz kernel image into memory. Once in memory, the kernel takes control of the system, initializes hardware, and starts the user-space processes that make up the operating system.

It's important to note that while vmlinuz is a common name for the compressed Linux kernel image, different distributions might use slightly different naming conventions or compression formats. For instance, some distributions might use bzImage instead of vmlinuz, and the compression format might be different as well. The specific naming and compression details can vary based on the distribution's implementation choices.