Operating System Process Management

A program is not a process. A program is a file containing a list of instructions stored on disk (called an executable file). A process is an active entity with a program counter specifying the next instruction to execute and a set of resources. A program becomes a process when an executable file is loaded into memory. It is possible for a process to make system calls to create subprocesses to execute concurrently.

A process needs certain resources - including CPU time, memory, files, and I/O devices - to accomplish its task. These resources are either given to the process when it is created, or allocated to it while it is running. In addition to the various physical and logical resources that a process obtains when it is created, various initialization data (input) may be passed along. For example, consider a process whose function is to display the status of a file on the screen of a terminal. The process will be given the name of the file as an input and will execute the appropriate instructions and system calls to obtain and display the desired information on the terminal. When the process terminates, the operating system will reclaim any reusable resources.

A single-threaded process has one program counter specifying the next instruction to execute. The execution of such a process must be sequential. The CPU executes one instruction of the process after another, until the process completes. Thus although two processes may be associated with the same program, they are nevertheless considered two separate execution sequences. A multithreaded process has multiple program counters, each pointing to the next instruction to execute for a given thread.

A process is the unit of work in a system. A system consists of a collection of processes, some of which are operating system processes (those that execute system code). The rest of which are user processes (those that execute user code). All these processes can potentially execute concurrently - by multiplexing on a single CPU for example.

The operating system is responsible for the following activities in connection with process management:

Scheduling processes and threads on the CPUs
Creating and deleting both user and system processes
Suspending and resuming processes
Providing mechanisms for process synchronization
Providing mechanisms for process communication.

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.

Reader Adam Sinclair says, "I'm writing this review from the perspective of a student. I am finishing an Operating Systems course at university and I have to say this book is fantastic at introducing new concepts. If there is ever a conversation about OS, I always refer to this book. The content is very well laid out and organized in a way that can be read from beginning to end. There is no need to jump from one chapter to another (unless you want to skip sections)."

Reader Chetan Sharma says, "This book is bible for operating system knowledge. It covers very important concepts of Process Management and Memory Management. This book is good for all type of readers - Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced reader. Highly recommended for Students/Professionals/Readers who want to enhance their knowledge.

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