File System Structure




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.

Rather than transferring a byte at a time, to improve I/O efficiency, I/O transfers between memory and disk are performed in units of blocks. Each block has one or more sectors. Depending on the disk drive, sectors vary from 32 bytes to 4,096 bytes; usually, they are 512 bytes. To provide efficient and convenient access to the disk, the operating system imposes one or more file systems to allow the data to be stored, located, and retrieved easily.

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 A file system poses two quite different design problems. The first problem is defining how the file system should look to the user. This task involves defining a file and its attributes, the operations allowed on a file, and the directory structure for organizing files. The second problem is creating algorithms and data structures to map the logical file system onto the physical secondary-storage devices. The file system itself is generally composed of many different levels.

File System Structure

 The structure shown in Figure 11.1 is an example of a layered design. Each level in the design uses the features of lower levels to create new features for use byhigher levels. The lowest level, the I/O control, consists of device drivers and interrupt handlers to transfer information between the main memory and the disk system. A device driver can be thought of as a translator. Its input consists of high-level commands such as "retrieve block 123." Its output consists of lowlevel, hardware-specific instructions that are used by the hardware controller, which interfaces the I/O device to the rest of the system. The device driver usually writes specific bit patterns to special locations in the I/O controller's memory to tell the controller which device location to act on and what actions to take.

 The details of device drivers and the I/O infrastructure are covered in Chapter 13. The basic file system needs only to issue generic commands to the appropriate device driver to read and write physical blocks on the disk. Each physical block is identified by its numeric disk address (for example, drive 1, cylinder 73, track 2, sector 10).

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The file-organization module knows about files and their logical blocks, as well as physical blocks. By knowing the type of file allocation used and the location of the file, the file-organization module can translate logical block addresses to physical block addresses for the basic file system to transfer. Each file's logical blocks are numbered from 0 (or 1) through N.

 Since the physical blocks containing the data usually do not match the logical numbers, a translation is needed to locate each block. The file-organization module also includes the free-space manager, which tracks unallocated blocks and provides these blocks to the file-organization module when requested. Finally, the logical file system manages metadata information. Metadata includes all of the file-system structure except the actual data (or contents of the files). The logical file system manages the directory structure to provide the fileorganization module with the information the latter needs, given a symbolic file name. It maintains file structure via file-control blocks.

A file-control block (FCB) contains information about the file, including ownership, permissions, and location of the file contents. The logical file system is also responsible for protection and security, as was discussed in Chapter 10 and will be further discussed in Chapter 14. When a layered structure is used for file-system implementation, duplication of code is minimized. The I/O control and sometimes the basic file-system code can be used by multiple file systems. Each file system can then have its own logical file system and file-organization modules. Many file systems are in use today. Most operating systems support more than one. For example, most CD-ROMs are written in the ISO 9660 format, a standard format agreed on by CD-ROM manufacturers.

In addition to removable-media file systems, each operating system has one disk-based file system (or more). UNIX uses the UNIX file system (UFS), which is based on the Berkeley Fast File System (FFS). Windows NT, 2000, and XP support disk file-system formats of FAT, FAT32, and KTFS (or Windows NT File System), as well as CD-ROM, DVD, and floppy-disk file-system formats. Although Linux supports over forty different file systems, the standard Linux file system is known as the extended file system, with the most common version being ext2 and ext3. There are also distributed file systems in which a file system on a server is mounted by one or more clients.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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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: Goal of systems analysis and design is to improve organizational systems. This process involves developing or acquiring application software and training employees. view more..
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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: 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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