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Answered 2011-09-12 14:11:28

Yes and No.

Unix and Linux Kernel code is written such that it is not dependent on external libraries. Thus, it can run without an OS - it is, in effect, the OS. The same goes for any OS Kernel. It has enough code to load device drivers and execute some form of initialization program.

The Linux kernel is executed by a bootloader, which is generally written in assembly or very low-level c, and must be told the location of the kernel, or the location of a 2nd-stage bootloader which is smart enough to "find" the kernel. An example of the former type is LILO, an example of the latter type is GRUB.

Beyond this, higher-level C programs must execute within the scope of a running kernel, which provides such functions as I/O access, Network access, etc. If you "kill" the kernel, then no applications are able to continue running, although kernels do have debug modes, which are mini-kernels that provide enough functionality to trace back the cause of a problem.

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