Multiuser Operating System Functions

Figure 2.1 shows one view of the various operating system services and how they interrelate.

Resource allocation. When there are multiple users or multiple jobs running at the same time, resources must be allocated to each of them. The operating system manages many different types of resources. Some (such as CPU cycles, main memory, and file storage) may have special allocation code, whereas others (such as I/O devices) may have much more general request and release code. For instance, in determining how best to use the CPU, operating systems have CPU scheduling routines that take into account the speed of the CPU, the jobs that must be executed, the number of registers available, and other factors. There may also be routines to allocate printers, use USB storage drivers, and other peripheral devices.

Accounting. We want to keep track of which users use how much and what kinds od computer resources. This record keeping may be used for accounting (so that users can be billed) or simply for accumulating usage statistics. Usage statistics may be a valuable tool for researchers who wish to reconfigure the system to improve computing services.

Protection and security. The owners of information stored in a multiuser or networked computer system may want to control use of that information. When several separate processes execute concurrently, it should not be possible for one process to interfere with the others or with the operating system itself. Protection involves ensuring that all access to system resources is controlled. Security of the system from outsiders is also important. Such security starts with requiring each user to authenticate himself or herself to the system, usually by means of a password, to gain access to system resources. It extends to detecting external I/O devices, including network adapters, from invalid access attempts and to recording all such connections for detection of break-ins. If a system is to be protected and secure, precautions must be instituted throughout it. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

About the Authors

Abraham Silberschatz is the Sidney J. Weinberg Professor of Computer Science at Yale University. Prior to joining Yale, he was the Vice President of the Information Sciences Research Center at Bell Laboratories. Prior to that, he held a chaired professorship in the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin.

Professor Silberschatz is a Fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), a Fellow of Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.

Greg Gagne is chair of the Computer Science department at Westminster College in Salt Lake City where he has been teaching since 1990. In addition to teaching operating systems, he also teaches computer networks, parallel programming, and software engineering.

Operating System Concepts, now in its ninth edition, continues to provide a solid theoretical foundation for understanding operating systems. The ninth edition has been thoroughly updated to include contemporary examples of how operating systems function. The text includes content to bridge the gap between concepts and actual implementations. End-of-chapter problems, exercises, review questions, and programming exercises help to further reinforce important concepts. A new Virtual Machine provides interactive exercises to help engage students with the material.

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