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And @sebasth also makes the excellent point that a major policy of the Linux kernel project is that it must not break user space.
Who or what guarantees that the various subsystems of a Linux system are able to cooperate with each other even though they are updated independently from each other?But the reverse isn't true -- otherwise, newer programs would not be able to make use of new functionality of new kernels.It can't be true, unless you commit yourself to never introduce "new stuff"[email protected] this is nit-picking, but forwards compatibility can be provided, if userspace implements appropriate fallbacks (even degraded fallbacks) for missing kernel features.The policy of having a stable userspace is the reason why kernel updates rarely cause issues in userspace applications and you do not generally expect issues after upgrading the kernel.However same API stability is not guaranteed for ) expose kernel implementation details on runtime configuration, hardware, network, processes etc. It is possible for those interfaces to change in an incompatible way between kernel versions if there is a good reason to."A sufficiently old Linux kernel will not work with modern distributions".
That's because the promise of Linux kernel is to be backwards compatible -- that is, its goal is that older user space programs still work with it.
Interface between userspace and kernel is provided by system calls.
Newer kernels can have more system calls, and changes in exiting ones when those changes do not break existing applications.
Does Linux (in general) not have a strong kernel to userspace coupling?
The kernel is updated, as far as I know, like any other software package, and it confuses me slightly that this is at all possible.
When upgrading, after ensuring the new version works properly, the oldest can be removed and you still have a known-safe fallback.