2.1. Hello, World (part 1): The Simplest Module

When the first caveman programmer chiseled the first program on the walls of the first cave computer, it was a program to paint the string `Hello, world' in Antelope pictures. Roman programming textbooks began with the `Salut, Mundi' program. I don't know what happens to people who break with this tradition, but I think it's safer not to find out. We'll start with a series of hello world programs that demonstrate the different aspects of the basics of writing a kernel module.

Here's the simplest module possible. Don't compile it yet; we'll cover module compilation in the next section.

Example 2-1. hello-1.c

/* a1387.htm a1387.html a1403.htm a1403.html book1.htm c1050.htm c1050.html c1159.htm c1159.html c119.htm c119.html c1209.htm c1209.html c1254.htm c1324.htm c1324.html c1350.htm c1350.html c38.htm c38.html c425.htm c425.html c567.htm c567.html c708.htm c708.html c885.htm c885.html c890.htm c890.html c976.htm c976.html doc-index.html f25.htm f25.html figures hello2.html i1413.htm index.html interrupthandlers.html ln16.html TXT_lkmpg.html x1052.html x1161.html x1194.htm x1194.html x1211.html x121.html x1256.html x1326.html x1352.html x1389.html x1405.html x181.htm x181.html x217.htm x245.htm x245.html x279.htm x279.html x27.html x30.htm x30.html x323.htm x323.html x351.htm x351.html x35.htm x35.html x380.htm x380.html x40.html x427.html x44.htm x44.html x569.html x710.html x769.htm x769.html x810.htm x810.html x861.htm x861.html x887.html x892.html x978.html hello-1.c - The simplest kernel module. figures/ #include <linux/module.h> /apps /backup /bin /boot /data /dev /etc /home /lib /lost+found /media /misc /mnt /net /opt /proc /root /sbin /selinux /srv /sys /tftpboot /tmp /usr /var Needed by all modules figures/ #include <linux/kernel.h> /apps /backup /bin /boot /data /dev /etc /home /lib /lost+found /media /misc /mnt /net /opt /proc /root /sbin /selinux /srv /sys /tftpboot /tmp /usr /var Needed for KERN_INFO figures/ int init_module(void) { printk(KERN_INFO "Hello world 1.\n"); /apps /backup /bin /boot /data /dev /etc /home /lib /lost+found /media /misc /mnt /net /opt /proc /root /sbin /selinux /srv /sys /tftpboot /tmp /usr /var a1387.htm a1387.html a1403.htm a1403.html book1.htm c1050.htm c1050.html c1159.htm c1159.html c119.htm c119.html c1209.htm c1209.html c1254.htm c1324.htm c1324.html c1350.htm c1350.html c38.htm c38.html c425.htm c425.html c567.htm c567.html c708.htm c708.html c885.htm c885.html c890.htm c890.html c976.htm c976.html doc-index.html f25.htm f25.html figures hello2.html i1413.htm index.html interrupthandlers.html ln16.html TXT_lkmpg.html x1052.html x1161.html x1194.htm x1194.html x1211.html x121.html x1256.html x1326.html x1352.html x1389.html x1405.html x181.htm x181.html x217.htm x245.htm x245.html x279.htm x279.html x27.html x30.htm x30.html x323.htm x323.html x351.htm x351.html x35.htm x35.html x380.htm x380.html x40.html x427.html x44.htm x44.html x569.html x710.html x769.htm x769.html x810.htm x810.html x861.htm x861.html x887.html x892.html x978.html A non 0 return means init_module failed; module can't be loaded. figures/ return 0; } void cleanup_module(void) { printk(KERN_INFO "Goodbye world 1.\n"); }

Kernel modules must have at least two functions: a "start" (initialization) function called init_module() which is called when the module is insmoded into the kernel, and an "end" (cleanup) function called cleanup_module() which is called just before it is rmmoded. Actually, things have changed starting with kernel 2.3.13. You can now use whatever name you like for the start and end functions of a module, and you'll learn how to do this in Section 2.3. In fact, the new method is the preferred method. However, many people still use init_module() and cleanup_module() for their start and end functions.

Typically, init_module() either registers a handler for something with the kernel, or it replaces one of the kernel functions with its own code (usually code to do something and then call the original function). The cleanup_module() function is supposed to undo whatever init_module() did, so the module can be unloaded safely.

Lastly, every kernel module needs to include linux/module.h. We needed to include linux/kernel.h only for the macro expansion for the printk() log level, KERN_ALERT, which you'll learn about in Section 2.1.1.

2.1.1. Introducing printk()

Despite what you might think, printk() was not meant to communicate information to the user, even though we used it for exactly this purpose in hello-1! It happens to be a logging mechanism for the kernel, and is used to log information or give warnings. Therefore, each printk() statement comes with a priority, which is the <1> and KERN_ALERT you see. There are 8 priorities and the kernel has macros for them, so you don't have to use cryptic numbers, and you can view them (and their meanings) in linux/kernel.h. If you don't specify a priority level, the default priority, DEFAULT_MESSAGE_LOGLEVEL, will be used.

Take time to read through the priority macros. The header file also describes what each priority means. In practise, don't use number, like <4>. Always use the macro, like KERN_WARNING.

If the priority is less than int console_loglevel, the message is printed on your current terminal. If both syslogd and klogd are running, then the message will also get appended to /var/log/messages, whether it got printed to the console or not. We use a high priority, like KERN_ALERT, to make sure the printk() messages get printed to your console rather than just logged to your logfile. When you write real modules, you'll want to use priorities that are meaningful for the situation at hand.