One of the defining factors that sets apart kernel development from user-space development is the hardship associated with debugging. It is difficult, at least relative to user-space, to debug the kernel. To complicate the matter, the stakes are much higher. A fault in the kernel could bring the whole system down—hard.
Growing successful at debugging the kernel—and ultimately, becoming successful at kernel development as a whole—is largely a function of your experience and understanding of the operating system. Sure, looks and charm help, too, but to successfully debug kernel issues, you need to understand the kernel. You have to start somewhere, however, so this chapter looks at approaches to debugging the kernel.