System Programs




System Programs

 Another aspect of a modern system is the collection of system programs. At the lowest level is hardware. Next is the operating system, then the system programs, and finally the application programs. System programs provide a convenient environment for program development and execution. Some of them are simply user interfaces to system calls; others are considerably more complex.

System Programs

They can be divided into these categories:

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 • File management. These programs create, delete, copy, rename, print, dump, list, and generally manipulate files and directories.

 • Status information. Some programs simply ask the system for the date, time, amount of available memory or disk space, number of users, or similar status information. Others are more complex, providing detailed performance, logging, and debugging information. Typically, these programs format and print the output to the terminal or other output devices or files or display it in a window of the GUI. Some systems also support a registry, which is used to store and retrieve configuration information.

• File modification. Several text editors may be available to create and modify the content of files stored on disk or other storage devices. There may also be special commands to search contents of files or perform transformations of the text.

Programming-language support. Compilers, assemblers, debuggers and interpreters for common programming languages (such as C, C++, Java, Visual Basic, and PERL) are often provided to the user with the operating system.

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Program loading and execution. Once a program is assembled or compiled, it must be loaded into memory to be executed. The system may provide absolute loaders, relocatable loaders, linkage editors, and overlay loaders. Debugging systems for either higher-level languages or machine language are needed as well.

• Communications. These programs provide the mechanism for creating virtual connections among processes, users, and computer systems. They allow users to send messages to one another's screens, to browse web pages, to send electronic-mail messages, to log in remotely, or to transfer files from one machine to another.

 In addition to systems programs, most operating systems are supplied with programs that are useful in solving common problems or performing common operations. Such programs include web browsers, word processors and text formatters, spreadsheets, database systems, compilers, plotting and statistical-analysis packages, and games. These programs are known as system utilities or application programs.

The view of the operating system seen by most users is defined, by the application and system programs, rather than by the actual system calls. Consider PCs. When his computer is running the Mac OS X operating system, a user might see the GUI, featuring a mouse and windows interface. Alternatively, or even in one of the windows, he might have a command-line UNIX shell. Both use the same set of system calls, but the system calls look different and act in different ways.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Ans: An instruction cycle (sometimes called a fetch–decode–execute cycle) is the basic operational process of a computer. It is the process by which a computer retrieves a program instruction from its memory, determines what actions the instruction dictates, and carries out those actions. view more..
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Ans: Direct memory access (DMA) is a method that allows an input/output (I/O) device to send or receive data directly to or from the main memory, bypassing the CPU to speed up memory operations. The process is managed by a chip known as a DMA controller (DMAC) view more..
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Ans: Inter process communication (IPC) is a mechanism which allows processes to communicate each other and synchronize their actions. The communication between these processes can be seen as a method of co-operation between them. Processes can communicate with each other using these two ways: Shared Memory. Message passing. view more..
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Ans: System programs provide a convenient environment for program development and execution. Some of them are simply user interfaces to system calls; others are considerably more complex view more..
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Ans: After an operating system is generated, it must be made available for use by the hardware. But how does the hardware know where the kernel is or how to load that kernel? The procedure of starting a computer by loading the kernel is known as booting the system. view more..
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Ans: A system as large and complex as a modern operating system must be engineered carefully if it is to function properly and be modified easily. A common approach is to partition the task into small components rather than have one monolithic system. Each of these modules should be a well-defined portion of the system, with carefully defined inputs, outputs, and functions. 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: 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: 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: 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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