Operating System Services




Operating-System Services

An operating system provides an environment for the execution of programs. It provides certain services to programs and to the users of those programs. The specific services provided, of course, differ from one operating system to another, but we can identify common classes. These operating-system services are provided for the convenience of the programmer, to make the programming task easier.

One set of operating-system services provides functions that are helpful to the user.

  • User interface : Almost all operating systems have a user interface (UI). This interface can take several forms. One is a command-line interface (CLI), which uses text commands and a method for entering them (say, a program to allow entering and editing of commands). Another is a batch interface, in which commands and directives to control those commands are entered into files, and those files are executed. Most commonly/ a graphical user interface (GUI) is used. Here, the interface is a window system with a pointing device to direct I/O, choose from menus, and make selections and a keyboard to enter text. Some systems provide two or all three of these variations.
  • Program execution : The system must be able to load a program into memory and to run that program. The program must be able to end its execution, either normally or abnormally (indicating error).
  • I/O operations. A running program may require I/O, which may involve a file or an I/O device. For specific devices, special functions may be desired (such as recording to a CD or DVD drive or blanking a CRT screen). For efficiency and protection, users usually cannot control I/O devices directly. Therefore, the operating system must provide a means to do I/O.
  • File-system manipulation : The file system is of particular interest. Obviously, programs need to read and write files and directories. They also need to create and delete them by name, search for a given file, and list file information. Finally, some programs include permissions management to allow or deny access to files or directories based on file ownership.
  • Communications : There are many circumstances in which one process needs to exchange information with another process. Such communication may occur between processes that are executing on the same computer or between processes that are executing on different computer systems tied together by a computer network. Communications may be implemented via shared memory or through message passing, in which packets of information are moved between processes by the operating system.

Operating System Services

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  • Error detection : The operating system needs to be constantly aware of possible errors. Errors may occur in the CPU and memory hardware (such as a memory error or a power failure), in I/O devices (such as a parity error on tape, a connection failure on a network, or lack of paper in the printer), and in the user program (such as an arithmetic overflow, an attempt to access an illegal memory location, or a too-great use of CPU time). For each type of error, the operating system should take the appropriate action to ensure correct and consistent computing. Debugging facilities can greatly enhance the user's and programmer's abilities to use the system efficiently. Another set of operating-system functions exists not for helping the user but rather for ensuring the efficient operation of the system itself. Systems with multiple users can gain efficiency by sharing the computer resources among the users.
  • Resource allocation : When there are multiple users or multiple jobs running at the same time, resources must be allocated to each of {hem. Many different types of resources are managed by the operating system. 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, modems, USB storage drives, and other peripheral devices.
  • Accounting : We want to keep track of which users use how much and what kinds of 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 reconfigiire 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 defending external I/O devices, including modems and 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.


Frequently Asked Questions

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Ans: File-System Structure Disks provide the bulk of secondary storage on which a file system is maintained. They have two characteristics that make them a convenient medium for storing multiple files: 1. A disk can be rewritten in place; it is possible to read a block from the disk, modify the block, and write it back into the same place. 2. A disk can access directly any given block of information it contains. Thus, it is simple to access any file either sequentially or randomly, and switching from one file to another requires only moving the read-write heads and waiting for the disk to rotate. view more..
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Ans: The operating system is responsible for several other aspects of disk management, too. Here we discuss disk initialization, booting from disk, and bad-block recovery. view more..
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Ans: Disk Scheduling One of the responsibilities of the operating system is to use the hardware efficiently. For the disk drives, meeting this responsibility entails having fast access time and large disk bandwidth. The access time has two major components. The seek time is the time for the disk arm to move the heads to the cylinder containing the desired sector. The rotational latency is the additional time for the disk to rotate the desired sector to the disk head. The disk bandwidth is the total number of bytes transferred, divided by the total time between the first request for service and the completion of the last transfer. We can improve both the access time and the bandwidth by scheduling the servicing of disk I/O requests in a good order. Whenever a process needs I/O to or from the disk, it issues a system call to the operating system view more..
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Ans: An operating system provides an environment for the execution of programs. It provides certain services to programs and to the users of those programs. The specific services provided, of course, differ from one operating system to another, but we can identify common classes. These operating-system services are provided for the convenience of the programmer, to make the programming task easier. services are : User interface, Program execution, I/O operations, File-system manipulation, Communications, Error detection, Resource allocation, Accounting, Protection and security view more..
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Ans: User Operating-System Interface There are two fundamental approaches for users to interface with the operating system. One technique is to provide a command-line interface or command interpreter that allows users to directly enter commands that are to be performed by the operating system. The second approach allows the user to interface with the operating system via a graphical user interface or GUI. view more..
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Ans: Operating-System Design and Implementation In this section, we discuss problems we face in designing and implementing an operating system. There are, of course, no complete solutions to such problems, but there are approaches that have proved successful. view more..
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Ans: Virtual Machines The layered approach described in Section 2.7.2 is taken to its logical conclusion in the concept of a virtual machine. The fundamental idea behind a virtual machine is to abstract the hardware of a single computer (the CPU, memory, disk drives, network interface cards, and so forth) into several different execution environments, thereby creating the illusion that each separate execution environment is running its own private computer. By using CPU scheduling (Chapter 5) and virtual-memory techniques (Chapter 9), an operating system can create the illusion that a process has its own processor with its own (virtual) memory. Normally, a process has additional features, such as system calls and a file system, that are not provided by the bare hardware. view more..
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Ans: Deadlock Prevention As we noted in Section 7.2.1, for a deadlock to occur, each of the four necessary conditions must hold. By ensuring that at least one of these conditions cannot hold, we can prevent the occurrence of a deadlock. We elaborate on this approach by examining each of the four necessary conditions separately. view more..
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Ans: Deadlock Avoidance Deadlock-prevention algorithms, as discussed in Section 7.4, prevent deadlocks by restraining how requests can be made. The restraints ensure that at least one of the necessary conditions for deadlock cannot occur and, hence, that deadlocks cannot hold. Possible side effects of preventing deadlocks by this method, however, are low device utilization and reduced system throughput. An alternative method for avoiding deadlocks is to require additional information about how resources are to be requested. For example, in a system with one tape drive and one printer, the system might need to know that process P will request first the tape drive and then the printer before releasing both resources, whereas process Q will request first the printer and then the tape drive. With this knowledge of the complete sequence of requests and releases for each process, the system can decide for each request whether or not the process should wait in order to avoid a possible future deadlock. view more..
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Ans: Recovery From Deadlock When a detection algorithm determines that a deadlock exists, several alternatives are available. One possibility is to inform the operator that a deadlock has occurred and to let the operator deal with the deadlock manually. Another possibility is to let the system recover from the deadlock automatically. There are two options for breaking a deadlock. One is simply to abort one or more processes to break the circular wait. The other is to preempt some resources from one or more of the deadlocked processes. view more..
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Ans: Stable-Storage Implementation We introduced the write-ahead log, which requires the availability of stable storage. By definition, information residing in stable storage is never lost. To implement such storage, we need to replicate the needed information on multiple storage devices (usually disks) with independent failure modes. We need to coordinate the writing of updates in a way that guarantees that a failure during an update will not leave all the copies in a damaged state and that, when we are recovering from a failure, we can force all copies to a consistent and correct value, even if another failure occurs during the recovery. In this section, we discuss how to meet these needs. view more..
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Ans: File-System Mounting Just as a file must be opened before it is used, a file system must be mounted before it can be available to processes on the system. More specifically, the directory structure can be built out of multiple volumes, which must be mounted to make them available within the file-system name space. The mount procedure is straightforward. The operating system is given the name of the device and the mount point—the location within the file structure where the file system is to be attached. Typically, a mount point is an empty directory. view more..
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Ans: Access Methods Files store information. When it is used, this information must be accessed and read into computer memory. The information in the file can be accessed in several ways. Some systems provide only one access method for files. Other systems, such as those of IBM, support many access methods, and choosing the right one for a particular application is a major design problem. view more..
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Ans: Directory implementation The selection of directory-allocation and directory-management algorithms significantly affects the efficiency, performance, and reliability of the file system. In this section, we discuss the trade-offs involved in choosing one of these algorithms. view more..
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Ans: Swap-Space Use Swap space is used in various ways by different operating systems, depending on the memory-management algorithms in use. For instance, systems that implement swapping may use swap space to hold an entire process image, including the code and data segments. Paging systems may simply store pages that have been pushed out of main memory. The amount of swap space needed on a system can therefore vary depending on the amount of physical memory, the amount of virtual memory it is backing, and the way in which the virtual memory is used. It can range from a few megabytes of disk space to gigabytes. view more..
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Ans: Copy-on-Write we illustrated how a process can start quickly by merely demandpaging in the page containing the first instruction. However, process creation using the fork () system call may initially bypass the need for demand paging by using a technique similar to page sharing (covered in Section 8.4.4). This technique provides for rapid process creation and minimizes the number of new pages that must be allocated to the newly created process. view more..
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Ans: File Replication Replication of files on different machines in a distributed file system is a useful redundancy for improving availability. Multimachine replication can benefit performance too: Selecting a nearby replica to serve an access request results in shorter service time. view more..
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Ans: Special-Purpose Systems The discussion thus far has focused on general-purpose computer systems that we are all familiar with. There are, however, different classes of computer systems whose functions are more limited and whose objective is to deal with limited computation domains. view more..




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