Process Concept




Process Concept

 A question that arises in discussing operating systems involves what to call all the CPU activities. A batch system executes jobs, whereas a time-shared system has user programs, or tasks. Even on a single-user system such as Microsoft Windows, a user may be able to run several programs at one time: a word processor, a web browser, and an e-mail package. Even if the user can execute only one program at a time, the operating system may need to support its own internal programmed activities, such as memory management. In many respects, all these activities are similar, so we call all of them processes. The terms job and process are used almost interchangeably in this text. Although we personally prefer the term process, much of operating-system theory and terminology was developed during a time when the major activity of operating systems was job processing. It would be misleading to avoid the use of commonly accepted terms that include the word job (such as job scheduling) simply because process has superseded job.

The Process

Informally, as mentioned earlier, a process is a program in execution. A process is more than the program code, which is sometimes known as the text section. It also includes the current activity, as represented by the value of the program counter and the contents of the processor's registers. A process generally also includes the process stack, which contains temporary data (such as function parameters, return addresses, and local variables), and a data section, which contains global variables.

Process Concept

A process may also include a heap, which is memory that is dynamically allocated during process run time. We emphasize that a program by itself is not a process; a program is a passive entity, such as a file containing a list of instructions stored on disk (often called an executable file), whereas a process is an active entity, with a program counter specifying the next instruction to execute and a set of associated resources. A program becomes a process when an executable file is loaded into memory. Two common techniques for loading executable files are double-clicking an icon representing the executable file and entering the name of the executable file on the command line (as in prog. exe or a. out.) Although two processes may be associated with the same program, they are nevertheless considered two separate execution sequences. For instance, several users may be running different copies of the mail program, or the same user may invoke many copies of the web browser program. Each of these is a separate process; and although the text sections are equivalent, the data, heap, and stack sections vary. It is also common to have a process that spawns many processes as it runs.

Process State

As a process executes, it changes state. The state of a process is defined in part by the current activity of that process. Each process may be in one of the following states:

 • New. The process is being created.

• Running. Instructions are being executed.

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• Waiting. The process is waiting for some event to occur (such as an I/O completion or reception of a signal).

 • Ready. The process is waiting to be assigned to a processor.

• Terminated.

Process Concept

The process has finished execution. These names are arbitrary, and they vary across operating systems. The states that they represent are fotind on all systems, however. Certain operating systems also more finely delineate process states. It is important to realize that only one process can be running on any processor at any instant. Many processes may be ready and limiting, however..

Process Control Block

 Each process is represented in the operating system by a process control block (PCB)—also called a task control block. It contains many pieces of information associated with a specific process, including these: • Process state. The state may be new, ready, running, waiting, halted, and so on.

Process Concept

• Program counter. The counter indicates the address of the next instruction to be executed for this process.

• CPU registers. The registers vary in number and type, depending on the computer architecture. They include accumulators, index registers, stack pointers, and general-purpose registers, plus any condition-code information. Along with the program counter, this state information must be saved when an interrupt occurs, to allow the process to be continued correctly afterward

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• CPU-scheduling information. This information includes a process priority, pointers to scheduling queues, and any other scheduling parameters.

• Memory-management information. This information may include such information as the value of the base and limit registers, the page tables, or the segment tables, depending on the memory system used by the operating system .

• Accounting information. This information includes the amount of CPU and real time used, time limits, account mimbers, job or process numbers, and so on.

 • I/O status information. This information includes the list of I/O devices allocated to the process, a list of open files, and so on. In brief, the PCB simply serves as the repository for any information that may vary from process to process.

 Threads

The process model discussed so far has implied that a process is a program that performs a single thread of execution. For example, when a process is running a word-processor program, a single thread of instructions is being executed. This single thread of control allows the process to perform only one task at one time.

Process Concept

The user cannot simultaneously type in characters and run the spell checker within the same process, for example. Many modern operating systems have extended the process concept to allow a process to have multiple threads of execution and thus to perform more than one task at a time. 



Frequently Asked Questions

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Ans: It is possible to design, code, and implement an operating system specifically for one machine at one site. More commonly, however, operating systems are designed to run on any of a class of machines at a variety of sites with a variety of peripheral configurations. The system must then be configured or generated for each specific computer site, a process sometimes known as system generation (SYSGEN). The operating system is normally distributed on disk or CD-ROM. To generate a system, we use a special program. The SYSGEN program reads from a given file, or asks the operator of the system for information concerning the specific configuration of the hardware system, or probes the hardware directly to determine what components are there. view more..
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Ans: Before we can explore the details of how computer systems operate, we need a general knowledge of the structure of a computer system. In this section, we look at several parts of this structure to round out our background knowledge. view more..
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Ans: System calls provide an interface to the services made available by an operating system. These calls are generally available as routines written in C and C++, although certain low-level tasks (for example, tasks where hardware must be accessed directly), may need to be written using assembly-language instructions. view more..
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Ans: A question that arises in discussing operating systems involves what to call all the CPU activities. A batch system executes jobs, whereas a time-shared system has user programs, or tasks. Even on a single-user system such as Microsoft Windows, a user may be able to run several programs at one time: a word processor, a web browser, and an e-mail package. Even if the user can execute only one program at a time, the operating system may need to support its own internal programmed activities, such as memory management. In many respects, all these activities are similar, so we call all of them processes. The terms job and process are used almost interchangeably in this text. Although we personally prefer the term process, much of operating-system theory and terminology was developed during a time when the major activity of operating systems was job processing. It would be misleading to avoid the use of commonly accepted terms that include the word job (such as job scheduling) simply because process has superseded job. view more..
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Ans: An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer programs. view more..
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Ans: The processes in most systems can execute concurrently, and they may be created and deleted dynamically. Thus, these systems must provide a mechanism for process creation and termination. we explore the mechanisms involved in creating processes and illustrate process creation on UNIX and Windows systems view more..
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Ans: A thread is a basic unit of CPU utilization; it comprises a thread ID, a program counter, a register set, and a stack. It shares with other threads belonging to the same process its code section, data section, and other operating-system resources, such as open files and signals. A traditional (or heavyweight) process has a single thread of control.If a process has multiple threads of control, it can perform more than one task at a time view more..
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Ans: Our discussion so far has treated threads in a generic sense. However, support for threads may be provided either at the user level, for user threads, or by the kernel, for kernel threads. User threads are supported above the kernel and are managed without kernel support, whereas kernel threads are supported and managed directly by the operating system. Virtually all contemporary operating systems—including Windows XP, Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, and Tru64 UNIX (formerly Digital UNIX)—support kernel threads. Ultimately, there must exist a relationship between user threads and kernel threads. In this section, we look at three common ways of establishing this relationship. view more..
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Ans: The critical-section problem is to design a protocol that the processes can use to cooperate. Each process must request permission to enter its critical section. The section of code implementing this request is the entry section. The critical section may be followed by an exit section. The remaining code is the remainder section. The general structure of a typical process P. The entry section and exit section are enclosed in boxes to highlight these important segments of code. view more..
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Ans: The various hardware-based solutions to the critical-section problem (using the TestAndSetC) and SwapO instructions) are complicated for application programmers to use. To overcome this difficulty, we can use a synchronization tool called a semaphore. A semaphore S is an integer variable that, apart from initialization, is accessed only through two standard atomic operations: wait () and signal (). view more..
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Ans: The main memory must accommodate both the operating system and the various user processes. We therefore need to allocate the parts of the main memory in the most efficient way possible. This section explains one common method, contiguous memory allocation. view more..
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Ans: Although semaphores provide a convenient and effective mechanism for process synchronization, using them incorrectly can result in timing errors that are difficult to detect, since these errors happen only if some particular execution sequences take place and these sequences do not always occur. We have seen an example of such errors in the use of counters in our solution to the producer-consumer problem view more..
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Ans: An important aspect of memory management that became unavoidable with paging is the separation of the user's view of memory and the actual physical memory. As we have already seen, the user's view of memory is not the same as the actual physical memory. The user's view is mapped onto physical memory. This mapping allows differentiation between logical memory and. physical memory. view more..
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Ans: Paging is a memory-management scheme that permits the physical address space of a process to be noncontiguous. Paging avoids the considerable problem of fitting memory chunks of varying sizes onto the backing store; most memory-management schemes used before the introduction of paging suffered from this problem. The problem arises because, when some code fragments or data residing in main memory need to be swapped out, space must be found on the backing store. view more..
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Ans: Demand Paging Consider how an executable program might be loaded from disk into memory. One option is to load the entire program in physical memory at program execution time. However, a problem with this approach, is that we may not initially need the entire program in memory. Consider a program that starts with a list of available options from which the user is to select. Loading the entire program into memory results in loading the executable code for all options, regardless of whether an option is ultimately selected by the user or not. An alternative strategy is to initially load pages only as they are needed. This technique is known as demand paging and is commonly used in virtual memory systems. view more..
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Ans: Thrashing If the number of frames allocated to a low-priority process falls below the minimum number required by the computer architecture, we must suspend, that process's execution. We should then page out its remaining pages, freeing all its allocated frames. This provision introduces a swap-in, swap-out level of intermediate CPU scheduling. In fact, look at any process that does not have ''enough" frames. If the process does not have the number of frames it needs to support pages in active use, it will quickly page-fault. At this point, it must replace some page. However, since all its pages are in active use, it must replace a page that will be needed again right away. Consequently, it quickly faults again, and again, and again, replacing pages that it must bring back in immediately. This high paging activity is called thrashing. A process is thrashing if it is spending more time paging than executing. view more..
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Ans: When a process running in user mode requests additional memory, pages are allocated from the list of free page frames maintained by the kernel. This list is typically populated using a page-replacement algorithm such as those discussed in Section 9.4 and most likely contains free pages scattered throughout physical memory, as explained earlier. Remember, too, that if a user process requests a single byte of memory, internal fragmentation will result, as the process will be granted, an entire page frame. Kernel memory, however, is often allocated from a free-memory pool different from the list used to satisfy ordinary user-mode processes. view more..
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Ans: We turn next to a description of the scheduling policies of the Solaris, Windows XP, and Linux operating systems. It is important to remember that we are describing the scheduling of kernel threads with Solaris and Linux. Recall that Linux does not distinguish between processes and threads; thus, we use the term task when discussing the Linux scheduler. view more..




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