What is kernel panic?


I just completed an OS course. I heard the phrase "kernel panic" a lot. Can you explain

What is a kernel panic? Why does it occur? How can I find out that a kernel panic occurred? What effect does it have on the system? Does it only occur in Linux? How can I prevent it?

1 Question at a time per the FAQ

What is kernel panic?
When the kernel can't load properly or "freaks out" and fails to boot properly or crashes(see edit credit at the bottom).

Why it occurs?
Hosed updates, failing hardware, unsupported hardware, failed or missing drive or partition (see edit credit at the bottom)

How can I understand kernel panic occurred?
Watch boot prompts(turn off quiet kernel parameter) OR your machine fails to boot

What effect it has on system?
Failure to boot or system crash

Does it only occur in Linux?
No, all unix-like operating systems can have kernel panics. It's the equivalent of a Windows Blue Screen of Death

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It is actually possible. You need the debug kernel for that particular distro.

On a seperate host.

Download the kebug version of that kernel. It will contain a vmlinux file.

Open the vmlinux file in gdb.

$ gdb /usr/lib/debug/lib/modules/3.14.9-200.fc20.x86_64/vmlinux GNU gdb (GDB) Fedora 7.7.1-13.fc20 Copyright (C) 2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc. License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law. Type "show copying" and "show warranty" for details. This GDB was configured as "x86_64-redhat-linux-gnu". Type "show configuration" for configuration details. For bug reporting instructions, please see: . Find the GDB manual and other documentation resources online at: . For help, type "help". Type "apropos word" to search for commands related to "word"... Reading symbols from /usr/lib/debug/lib/modules/3.14.9-200.fc20.x86_64/vmlinux...done. (gdb)...
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What does it mean when your computer has a "kernel panic"?

Does it equate to the windows BsoD?

Also, what methods, tips, tricks are available to the user when a kernel panic strikes?

Kernel panic is the same as BSOD and is non-rescuable IIRC. However smaller failure is OOPS which denotes some error in kernel.

You can use kexec which switches to new kernel on panic (you can threat it as fast reboot) - possibly getting meaningful dump of system to debug the problem You can use panic parameter which reboots kernel after n seconds. You can instruct GRUB to switch to fallback kernel in such case Use Magic SysRQ keys to print stack traces etc.

A Linux kernel panic is a subroutine call that the kernel executes when the kernel logic determines that a condition exists that makes continued execution of the normal logic impossible or irresponsible.

The kernel can call a panic when:

It detects a software error in the kernel code or stack When there is a...
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According to wikipedia Kernel Panic

A kernel panic (sometimes abbreviated as KP1), also known as computer death or PC death, is an action taken by an operating system upon detecting an internal fatal error from which it cannot safely recover. The term is largely specific to Unix and Unix-like systems; for Microsoft Windows operating systems the equivalent term is "Stop error" (resulting in a "Stop error screen," or colloquially, a "Blue Screen of Death").

According to wikipedia Exception and how it is handled

Exception handling is the process of responding to the occurrence, during computation, of exceptions – anomalous or exceptional conditions requiring special processing – often changing the normal flow of program execution. It is provided by specialized programming language constructs or computer hardware...

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Kernel Panic

A kernel panic is an action taken by an operating system upon detecting an internal fatal error from which it cannot safely recover. The term is largely specific to Unix and Unix-like systems; for Microsoft Windows operating systems the equivalent term is "Bug check" (or, colloquially, "Blue Screen of Death").

Read more about Kernel Panic.

Some articles on kernel panic:

Spring (game Engine) - Games - Kernel Panic


Kernel Panic

is a game that has no connection to Total Annihilation ... There are no resources in

Kernel Panic

, so the player can build units until the map is full ...

Linux Architecture - Technical Features - Architecture - Kernel Panic

... In Linux, a "


" is an unrecoverable system error detected by the


, as opposed to similar errors detected by user space code ... It is possible for


code to indicate such a condition by calling the


function located in...

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A kernel panic is a computer error from which the operating system (OS) cannot quickly or easily recover. The term applies primarily to Unix-based systems and to Mac OS X. In other systems, the equivalent of a kernel panic is known by slang terms such as blue screen of death, sad Mac or bomb. In Windows 3.x, this sort of malfunction was called a general protection fault.

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A kernel panic produces a message or set of messages on the computer display. This information can be useful to technicians in diagnosing and resolving problems but it means little to the inexperienced user.

Kernel panic can be triggered by an inappropriate...

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Hi! Welcome to KPLUG, the San Diego Kernel Panic Linux Users' Group. Interested in what we're up to? We'd be happy to have you!

Check the calendar on the right for upcoming events. You're always welcome to one of our meetings.

Mission Statement

Kernel-Panic Linux User Group (KPLUG) is the oldest and largest Linux User Group in San Diego. KPLUG is a special interest group of the San Diego Computer Society. KPLUG is dedicated to promoting Linux and advocating for its use to both software professionals and computer hobbyists.

KPLUG advocates the use of Linux and software that runs on Linux where it is the best, most stable, and most reliable solution. KPLUG is dedicated to providing Linux education.


Membership in KPLUG is $6 per year and helps support the club's activities. You get six free raffle tickets for the regular monthly raffle when you join up. More information on membership is here.

KPLUG Meetings


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