Linux Hello World Device driver

An empty kernel module

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

 * This function is called when the module is first loaded.
static int __init hello_kernel_init(void)
    printk("Hello, World!\n");
    return 0;

 * This function is called when is called if and when the module is unloaded.
static void __exit hello_kernel_exit(void)
    printk("Goodbye, cruel world...\n");

/* The names of the init/exit functions are arbitrary, and they are bound using the following macro definitions */

In order to write a Linux device driver (Character-device, Block-device, etc...), it is necessary to create a kernel module that has an entry and exit points.

By itself, the kernel module does nothing; it has no meaningful way to communicate with the userspace. Using the entry point it is possible to create a new character-device, for example, which is then used to communicate with the userspace.

Building and running the module

In order to compile the driver, it is necessary to have the Linux Kernel source tree.

Assuming the sources are at /lib/modules/<kernel-version>, the following Makefile will compile the file driver.c into the driver.ko Kernel Object

obj-m := driver.o
KDIR := /lib/modules/$(shell uname -r)/build/
PWD := $(shell pwd)

    $(MAKE) -C $(KDIR) M=$(PWD) modules

Notice how this Makefile calls make in the build directory of the Kernel.

When the compilation step finishes successfully, the src directory of the driver will look somewhat like this:

driver.c  driver.ko  driver.mod.c  driver.mod.o  driver.o  Makefile  modules.order  Module.symvers

In order to "run" the module, it is necessary to insert into the running kernel:

$ insmod driver.ko
$ dmesg | tail -n 1
[133790.762185] Hello, World!

$ rmmod driver.ko
$ dmesg | tail -n 1
[133790.762185] Goodbye, cruel world...