Writing a Char Module

The Code

Writing a Char Module is suprisingly simple. First, we specify what happens on init (loading of the module) and exit (unloading of the module). We need some special headers for this.

#include <linux/init.h>
#include <linux/module.h>


static int intro_init(void) {
    printk(KERN_ALERT "Custom Module Started!\n");
    return 0;

static void intro_exit(void) {
    printk(KERN_ALERT "Custom Module Stopped :(\n");


It looks simple, because it is simple. For now, anyway.

First we set the license, because otherwise we get a warning, and I hate warnings. Next we tell the module what to do on load (intro_init()) and unload (intro_exit()). Note we put parameters as void, this is because kernel modules are very picky about requiring parameters (even if just void).

We then register the purposes of the functions using module_init() and module_exit().

Note that we use printk rather than printf. GLIBC doesn't exist in kernel mode, and instead we use C's in-built kernel functionality. KERN_ALERT is specifies the type of message sent, and there are many more types.


Compiling a Kernel Object can seem a little more complex as we use a Makefile, but it's surprisingly simple:

obj-m += intro.o
	make -C /lib/modules/$(shell uname -r)/build M=$(PWD) modules

We use make to compile the module. The files produced are defined at the top as obj-m. Note that compilation is unique per kernel, which is why the compiling process uses your unique kernel build section.

Using the Kernel Module

Now we've got a ko file compiled, we can add it to the list of active modules:

$ sudo insmod test.ko

If it's successful, there will be no response. But where did it print to?

Remember, the kernel program has no concept of userspace; it does not know you ran it, nor does it bother communicating with userspace. Instead, this code runs in the kernel, and we can check the output using sudo dmesg.

$ sudo dmesg | tail -n 1
[ 3645.657331] Custom Module Started!

Here we grab the last line using tail - as you can see, our printk is called!

Now let's unload the module:

$ sudo rmmod test
$ sudo dmesg | tail -n 1
[ 4046.904898] Custom Module Stopped :(

And there our intro_exit is called.

You can view currently loaded modules using the lsmod command

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