What is the right way of calling kernel functions in a C file from a kernel module in Linux?

I want to call exit_task_namespaces in linux/nsproxy.c from my first ever kernel module

I am doing this:

#include <linux/nsproxy.h>

static ssize_t device_read(struct file *flip, char *buffer, size_t len, loff_t *offset)
    struct task_struct *task = current;

when I try to make I get the following error:

ERROR: "exit_task_namespaces" [/home/.../lkm_example.ko] undefined!
make[2]: *** [scripts/Makefile.modpost:94: __modpost] Error 1
make[1]: *** [Makefile:1673: modules] Error 2
make[1]: Leaving directory '/usr/src/linux-headers-5.4.0-73-generic'
make: *** [Makefile:3: all] Error 2

I can see that in the file /usr/src/linux-headers-5.4.0-73-generic/include/linux/nsproxy.h the method exists.

This is my Makefile:

obj-m += lkm_example.o
    make -C /lib/modules/$(shell uname -r)/build M=$(PWD) modules
  • 2
    As an aside, you should really be using $(MAKE) rather than make in your sub-make invocation. Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 6:02
  • 2
    How the MAKE Variable Works. For example: - $(MAKE) implicitly has + at the beginning, so it will run make -n when invoked by make -n, so you can see all the commands that will run. Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 16:25
  • Thanks @TobySpeight... I (think) understand now - thanks for sharing! Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 18:51
  • 1
    exit_task_namespaces being called from a module is massively wrong; there is no way this would ever be exported for module use. It's a subroutine of the do_exit logic for terminating a process. Calling these functions randomly on a running task could leave it in a bad state with something depending on the cleaned-up resources to still be there. It's very curious how you arrived at the idea of targeting this specific function from a module.
    – Kaz
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 1:56
  • Hi @Kaz! Very good point :) maybe I should have added the reason into the question. I am simply trying to learn the kernel code - this module will never be used for any real thing. I am a still trying to figure out what is the best way to dig into the code, so I am trying to create a module, add some traces and start calling here and there to check results. For example, I changed the task->nsproxy from the module and it did not do what i expected :( Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


Modules can only access exported symbols, and exit_task_namespaces isn’t exported — so even though it is visible in the header files, it can’t be used in a module.

Exported symbols can be accessed as you’d expect, there’s nothing special to do.

  • Thank you @StephenKitt! A new thing to learn :) Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 20:59
  • 1
    Note: you can use kallsyms_get_name() if you really HAVE to, but it's considered a bad practice.
    – kiler129
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 4:23
  • 8
    @kiler129 I’m guessing you’re referring to kallsyms_lookup_name — but that is no longer exported to modules, so it’s not only considered bad practice, it’s become rather difficult, although there are still workarounds. Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 5:29
  • 2
    @StephenKitt: And last time I checked you can build a stripped kernel that doesn't even have non-exported symbols in the symbol table.
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 14:52
  • @Joshua you can indeed! Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 15:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .