Functions of Operating System

Functions of Operating System

Functions of Operating System :

The main functions of operating system are as follows :

1) Process Management :

The CPU executes a large number of programs. While its main concern is the execution of user programs, the CPU is also needed for other system activities. These activities are called processes. A process is a program in execution. Typically, a batch job is a process. A time-shared user program is a process. A system task, such as spooling, is also a process. For now, a process may be considered as a job or a time-shared program, but the concept is actually more general.

The operating system is responsible for the following activities in connection with processes management:

  • The creation and deletion of both user and system processes.
  • The suspension and resumption of processes.
  • The provision of mechanisms for process synchronization.
  • The provision of mechanisms for deadlock handling.

2) Memory Management :

Memory is the most expensive part in the computer system. Memory is a large array of words or bytes, each with its own address. Interaction is achieved through a sequence of reads or writes of specific memory address. The CPU fetches from and stores in memory.

There are various algorithms that depend on the particular situation to manage the memory. Selection of a memory management scheme for a specific system depends upon many factors, but especially upon the hardware design of the system. Each algorithm requires its own hardware support.

The operating system is responsible for the following activities in connection with memory management.

  • Keep track of which parts of memory are currently being used and by
  • Decide which processes are to be loaded into memory when memory space becomes available.
  • Allocate and deallocate memory space as needed.

3) Secondary Storage Management :

The main purpose of a computer system is to execute programs. These programs, together with the data they access, must be in main memory during execution. Since the main memory is too small to permanently accommodate all data and program, the computer system must provide secondary storage to backup main memory. Most modem computer systems use disks as the primary on-line storage of information, of both programs and data. Most programs, like compilers, assemblers, sort routines, editors, formatters, and so on, are stored on the disk until loaded into memory, and then use the disk as both the source and destination of their processing. Hence the proper management of disk storage is of central importance to a computer system.

There are few alternatives. Magnetic tape systems are generally too slow. In addition, they are limited to sequential access. Thus tapes are more suited for storing infrequently used files, where speed is not a primary concern.

The operating system is responsible for the following activities in connection with disk management:

  • Free space management.
  • Storage allocation.
  • Disk scheduling.

4) I/O Management :

One of the purposes of an operating system is to hide the peculiarities or specific hardware devices from the user. For example, in UNIX, the peculiarities of I/O devices are hidden from the bulk of the operating system itself by the I/O system. The operating system is responsible for the following activities in connection to I/O management:
  • A buffer caching system.
  • To activate a general device driver code.
  • To run the driver software for specific hardware devices as and when required.

5) File Management :

File management is one of the most visible services of an operating system. Computers can store information in several different physical forms: magnetic tape, disk, and drum are the most common forms. Each of these devices has it own characteristics and physical organisation.

For convenient use of the computer system, the operating system provides a uniform logical view of information storage. The operating system abstracts from the physical properties of its storage devices to define a logical storage unit, the file. Files are mapped, by the operating system, onto physical devices.

A file is a collection of related information defined by its creator. Commonly, files represent programs (both source and object forms) and data. Data files may be numeric, alphabetic or alphanumeric. Files may be free-form, such as text files, or may be rigidly formatted. In general a files is a sequence of bits, bytes, lines or records whose meaning is defined by its creator and user. It is a very general concept.

The operating system implements the abstract concept of the file by managing mass storage device, such as types and disks. Also files are normally organised into directories to ease their use. Finally, when multiple users have access to files, it may be desirable to control by whom and in what ways files may be accessed.

The operating system is responsible for the following activities in connection to the file management:

  • The creation and deletion of files.
  • The creation and deletion of directory.
  • The support of primitives for manipulating files and directories.
  • The mapping of files onto disk storage.
  • Backup of files on stable (non volatile) storage.
  • Protection and security of the files.

6) Protection Management :

The various processes in an operating system must be protected from each other’s activities. For that purpose, various mechanisms which can be used to ensure that the files, memory segment, CPU and other resources can be operated on only by those processes that have gained proper authorisation from the operating system.

For example, memory addressing hardware ensures that a process can only execute within its own address space. The timer ensures that no process can gain control of the CPU without relinquishing it. Finally, no process is allowed to do its own I/O, to protect the integrity of the various peripheral devices. Protection refers to a mechanism for controlling the access of programs, processes, or users to the resources defined by a computer controls to be imposed, together with some means of enforcement.

Protection can improve reliability by detecting latent errors at the interfaces between component subsystems. Early detection of interface errors can often prevent contamination of a healthy subsystem by a subsystem that is malfunctioning. An unprotected resource cannot defend against use (or misuse) by an unauthorised or incompetent user.

7) Networking Management :

A distributed system is a collection of processors that do not share memory or a clock. Instead, each processor has its own local memory, and the processors communicate with each other through various communication lines, such as high speed buses or telephone lines. Distributed systems vary in size and function. They may involve microprocessors, workstations, minicomputers, and large general purpose computer systems.

The processors in the system are connected through a communication network, which can be configured in the number of different ways. The network may be fully or partially connected. The communication network design must consider routing and connection strategies and the problems of connection and security.

A distributed system provides the user with access to the various resources the system maintains. Access to a shared resource allows computation speed-up, data availability, and reliability.

8) Command Interpretation Management :

One of the most important components of an operating system is its command interpreter. The command interpreter is the primary interface between the user and the rest of the system.

Many commands are given to the operating system by control statements. When a new job is started in a batch system or when a user logs-in to a time-shared system, a program which reads and interprets control statements is automatically executed. This program is variously called (1) the control card interpreter, (2) the command line interpreter, (3) the shell (in Unix), and so on. Its function is quite simple: get the next command statement, and execute it.

The command statements themselves deal with process management, I/O handling, secondary storage management, main memory management, file system access, protection, and networking.