Operations on Process

Operations on Processes

 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. In this section, we explore the mechanisms involved in creating processes and illustrate process creation on UNIX and Windows systems

Process Creation

A process may create several new processes, via a create-process system call, during the course of execution. The creating process is called a parent process, and the new processes are called the children of that process. Each of these new processes may in turn create other processes, forming a tree of processes. Most operating systems (including UNIX and the Windows family of operating systems) identify processes according to a unique process identifier (or pid), which is typically an integer number. Figure  illustrates a typical process tree for the Solaris operating system, showing the name of each process and its pid.

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In Solaris, the process at the top of the tree is the sched process, with pid of 0. The sched process creates several children processes—including pageout and f sf lush. These processes are responsible for managing memory and file systems. The sched process also creates the ini t process, which serves as the root parent process for all user processes. In Figure , we see two children of ini t — inetd and dtlogin. inetd is responsible for networking services such as telne t and ftp; dtlogin is the process representing a user login screen. When a user logs in, dtlogin creates an X-windows session (Xsession), which in turns creates the sdt_shel process. Below sdt_shel, a user's command-line shell—the C-shell or csh—is created. It is this commandline interface where the user then invokes various child processes, such as the Is and cat commands. We also see a csh process with pid of 7778 representing a user who has logged onto the system using telnet. This user has started the Netscape browser (pid of 7785) and the emacs editor (pid of 8105).

Operations on Process

On UNIX, a listing of processes can be obtained using the ps command. For example, entering the command ps -e l will list complete information for all processes currently active in the system. It is easy to construct a process tree similar to what is shown in Figure  by recursively tracing parent processes all the way to the ini t process. In general, a process will need certain resources (CPU time, memory, files, I/O devices) to accomplish its task. When a process creates a subprocess, that subprocess may be able to obtain its resources directly from the operatiiig system, or it may be constrained to a subset of the resources of the parent process.

The parent may have to partition its resources among its children, or it may be able to share some resources (such as memory or files) among several of its children. Restricting a child process to a subset of the parent's resources prevents any process from overloading the system by creating too many subprocesses. In addition to the various physical and logical resources that a process obtains when it is created, initialization data (input) may be passed along by the parent process to the child process. For example, consider a process whose function is to display the contents of a file—say, img.jpg—on the screen of a terminal. When it is created, it will get, as an input from its parent process, the name of the file img.jpg, and it will use that file name, open the file, and write the contents out. It may also get the name of the output device. Some operating systems pass resources to child processes. On such a system, the new process may get two open files, img.jpg and the terminal device, and may simply transfer the datum between the two. When a process creates a new process, two possibilities exist in terms of execution:

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 1. The parent continues to execute concurrently with its children.

2. The parent waits until some or all of its children have terminated.

 There are also two possibilities in terms of the address space of the new process:

1. The child process is a duplicate of the parent process (it has the same program and data as the parent).

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 2. The child process has a new program loaded into it. To illustrate these differences, let's first consider the UNIX operating system. In UNIX, as we've seen, each process is identified by its process identifier.

Operations on Process

 A new process is created by the forkO system call. The new process consists of a copy of the address space of the original process. This mechanism allows the parent process to communicate easily with its child process. Both processes (the parent and the child) continue execution at the instruction after the f ork(), with one difference: The return code for the forkO is zero for the new (child) process, whereas the (nonzero) process identifier of the child is returned to the parent. Typically, the execO system call is used after a forkO system call by one of the two processes to replace the process's memory space with a new program. The exec () system call loads a binary file into memory (destroying the memory image of the program containing the execO system call) and starts its execution. In this manner, the two processes are able to communicate and then go their separate ways. The parent can then create more children; or, if it has nothing else to do while the child runs, it can issue a wait () system call to move itself off the ready queue until the termination of the child.

The UNIX system calls previously described. We now have two different processes running a copy of the same program. The value of pid for the child process is zero; that for the parent is an integer value greater than zero. The child process overlays its address space with the UNIX command /bin/Is (used to get a directory listing) using the execlpO system call (execlpO is a version of the execO system call). The parent waits for the child process to complete with the wait () system call. When the child process completes (by either implicitly or explicitly invoking exit ()) the parent process resumes from the call to wait (), where it completes using the exit () system call.. As an alternative example, we next consider process creation in Windows. Processes are created in the Win32 API using the CreateProcessO function, which is similar to f ork () in that a parent creates a new child process. However, whereas f ork () has the child process inheriting the address space of its parent, CreateProcess () requires loading a specified program into the address space of the child process at process creation. Furthermore, whereas fork () is passed no parameters, CreateProcess 0 expects no fewer than ten parameters.

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Operations on Process

Two parameters passed to CreateProcess () are instances of the STARTUPINFO and PROCESSJNFORMATION structures. STARTUPINFO specifies many properties of the new process, such as window size and appearance and handles to standard input and output files. The PROCESSJNFORMATION structure contains a handle and the identifiers to the newly created process and its thread. We invoke the ZeroMemoryO function to allocate memory for each of these structures before proceeding with CreateProcess (). The first two parameters passed to CreateProcess () are the application name and command line parameters. If the application name is NULL (which in this case it is), the command line parameter specifies the application to load. In this instance we are loading the Microsoft Windows mspaint.exeapplication.

 Beyond these two initial parameters, we use the default parameters for inheriting process and thread handles as well as specifying no creation flags. We also use the parent's existing environment block and starting directory. Last, we provide two pointers to the STARTUPINFO and PROCESS-INFORMATION structures created at the beginning of the program.The parent process waits for the child to complete by invoking the waitO system call. The equivalent of this in Win32 is WaitForSingleObj ect (), which is passed a handle of the child process—pi . hProcess— that it is waiting for to complete. Once the child process exits, control returns from the WaitForSingleOb j ect () function in the parent process.

Process Termination

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A process terminates when it finishes executing its final statement and asks the operating system to delete it by using the exit () system call. At that point, the process may return a status value (typically an integer) to its parent process (via the wait() system call). All the resources of the process—including physical and virtual memory, open files, and I/O buffers—are deallocated by the operating system. Termination can occur in other circumstances as well. A process can cause the termination of another process via an appropriate system call (for example, TerminateProcessO in Win32). Usually, such a system call can be invoked only by the parent of the process that is to be terminated. Otherwise, users could arbitrarily kill each other's jobs. Note that a parent needs to know the identities of its children. Thus, when one process creates a new process, the identity of the newly created process is passed to the parent. A parent may terminate the execution of one of its children for a variety of reasons, such as these:

• The child has exceeded its usage of some of the resources that it has been allocated. (To determine whether this has occurred, the parent must have a mechanism to inspect the state of its children.)

• The task assigned to the child is no longer required.

• The parent is exiting, and the operating system does not allow a child to continue if its parent terminates. Some systems, including VMS, do not allow a child to exist if its parent has terminated. In such systems, if a process terminates (either normally or abnormally), then all its children must also be terminated. This phenomenon, referred to as cascading termination, is normally initiated by the operating system.

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To illustrate process execution and termination, consider that, in UNIX, we can terminate a process by using the exitQ system call; its parent process may wait for the termination of a child process by using the waitO system call. The wait () system call returns the process identifier of a terminated child so that the parent can tell which of its possibly many children has terminated. If the parent terminates, however, all its children have assigned as their new parent the ini t process. Thus, the children still have a parent to collect their status and execution statistics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ans: An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer programs. view more..
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..
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..
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..
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..
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..
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..
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..
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..
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..
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..
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..
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..
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..
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..
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..
Ans: Overview of Mass-Storage Structure In this section we present a general overview of the physical structure of secondary and tertiary storage devices view more..
Ans: Allocation of Frames We turn next to the issue of allocation. How do we allocate the fixed amount of free memory among the various processes? If we have 93 free frames and two processes, how many frames does each process get? The simplest case is the single-user system. Consider a single-user system with 128 KB of memory composed of pages 1 KB in size. This system has 128 frames. The operating system may take 35 KB, leaving 93 frames for the user process. Under pure demand paging, all 93 frames would initially be put on the free-frame list. When a user process started execution, it would generate a sequence of page faults. The first 93 page faults would all get free frames from the free-frame list. view more..

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