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Chapter 1: Introduction
Homework: Read Chapter 1 (Introduction)
Levels of abstraction (virtual machines)
Software (and hardware, but that is not this course) is often
implemented in layers.
The higher layers use the facilities provided by lower layers.
Alternatively said, the upper layers are written using a more
powerful and more abstract virtual machine than the lower layers.
Alternatively said, each layer is written as though it runs on the
virtual machine supplied by the lower layer and in turn provides a
more abstract (pleasant) virtual machine for the higher layer to
Using a broad brush, the layers are.
- Applications and utilities
- Compilers, Editors, Command Interpreter (shell, DOS prompt)
- The OS proper (the kernel, runs in
Compilers, editors, shell, linkers. etc run in user mode.
The kernel itself is itself normally layered, e.g.
- Machine independent I/O
- Machine dependent device drivers
The machine independent I/O part is written assuming ``virtual
(i.e. idealized) hardware''. For example, the machine independent
I/O portion simply reads a block from a ``disk''. But in reality
one must deal with the specific disk controller.
Often the machine independent part is more than one layer.
The term OS is not well defined. Is it just the kernel? How
about the libraries? The utilities? All these are certainly
system software but not clear how much is part of
1.1: What is an operating system?
The kernel itself raises the level of abstraction and hides details.
For example a user (of the kernel) can write to a file (a concept not
present in hardware) and ignore whether the file resides on a floppy,
a CD-ROM, or a hard magnetic disk
The kernel is a resource manager (so users don't conflict).
How is an OS fundamentally different from a compiler (say)?
Answer: Concurrency! Per Brinch Hansen in Operating Systems
Principles (Prentice Hall, 1973) writes.
The main difficulty of multiprogramming is that concurrent activities
can interact in a time-dependent manner, which makes it practically
impossibly to locate programming errors by systematic testing.
Perhaps, more than anything else, this explains the difficulty of
making operating systems reliable.
Homework: 1, 2. (unless otherwise stated, problems
numbers are from the end of the chapter in Tanenbaum.)
1.2 History of Operating Systems
- Single user (no OS).
- Batch, uniprogrammed, run to completion.
- The OS now must be protected from the user program so that it is
capable of starting (and assisting) the next program in the batch.
- The purpose was to overlap CPU and I/O
- Multiple batches
- IBM OS/MFT (Multiprogramming with a Fixed number of Tasks)
- OS for IBM system 360.
- The (real) memory is partitioned and a batch is
assigned to a fixed partition.
- The memory assigned to a
partition does not change.
- Jobs were spooled from cards into the
memory by a separate processor (an IBM 1401).
Similarly output was
spooled from the memory to a printer (a 1403) by the 1401.
- IBM OS/MVT (Multiprogramming with a Variable number of Tasks)
(then other names)
- Each job gets just the amount of memory it needs. That
is, the partitioning of memory changes as jobs enter and leave
- MVT is a more ``efficient'' user of resources, but is
- When we study memory management, we will see that, with
varying size partitions, questions like compaction and
- Time sharing
This is multiprogramming with rapid switching between jobs
(processes). Deciding when to switch and which process to
switch to is called scheduling.
We will study scheduling when we do processor management
- Personal Computers
Serious PC Operating systems such as linux, Windows NT/2000/XP
and (the newest) MacOS are multiprogrammed OSes.
GUIs have become important. Debate as to whether it should be
part of the kernel.
Early PC operating systems were uniprogrammed and their direct
descendants in some sense still are (e.g. Windows ME).
1.3: OS Zoo
There is not as much difference between mainframe, server,
multiprocessor, and PC OSes as Tannenbaum suggests. For example
Windows NT/2000/XP, Unix and Linux are used on all.
1.3.1: Mainframe Operating Systems
Used in data centers, these systems ofter tremendous I/O
capabilities and extensive fault tolerance.
1.3.2: Server Operating Systems
Perhaps the most important servers today are web servers.
Again I/O (and network) performance are critical.
1.3.3: Multiprocessor Operating systems
These existed almost from the beginning of the computer
age, but now are not exotic.
1.3.4: PC Operating Systems (client machines)
Some OSes (e.g. Windows ME) are tailored for this application. One
could also say they are restricted to this application.
1.3.5: Real-time Operating Systems
- Often are Embedded Systems.
- Soft vs hard real time. In the latter missing a deadline is a
fatal error--sometimes literally.
- Very important commercially, but not covered much in this course.
1.3.6: Embedded Operating Systems
- The OS is ``part of'' the device. For example, PDAs,
microwave ovens, cardiac monitors.
- Often are real-time systems.
- Very important commercially, but not covered much in this course.
1.3.7: Smart Card Operating Systems
Very limited in power (both meanings of the word).
- Network OS: Make use of the multiple PCs/workstations on a LAN.
- Distributed OS: A ``seamless'' version of above.
- Not part of this course (but often in G22.2251).
1.4: Computer Hardware Review
Tannenbaum's treatment is very brief and superficial. Mine is even
The picture above is very simplified.
For one thing, today separate buses are used to Memory and Video.
We will ignore processor concepts such as program
counters and stack pointers. We will also ignore
computer design issues such as pipelining and
superscalar. We do, however, need the notion of a
trap, that is an instruction that atomically
switches the processor into privileged mode and jumps to a pre-defined
We will ignore caches, but will (later) discuss demand paging,
which is very similar (although demand paging and caches use
completely disjoint terminology).
In both cases, the goal is to combine large slow memory with small
fast memory to achieve the effect of large fast memory.
The central memory in a system is called RAM
(Random Access Memory). A key point is that it is volatile, i.e. the
memory loses its data if power is turned off.
I don't understand why Tanenbaum discusses disks here instead of in
the next section entitled I/O devices, but he does. I don't.
ROM / PROM / EPROM / EEPROM / Flash Ram
ROM (Read Only Memory) is used to hold data that
will not change, e.g. the serial number of a computer or the program
use in a microwave. ROM is non-volatile. A modern, familiar ROM is
CD-ROM (or the denser DVD).
But often this unchangable data needs to be changed (e.g., to fix
bugs). This gives rise first to PROM (Programmable
ROM), which, like a
CD-R, can be written once (as opposed to being mass produced already
written like a CD-ROM), and then to EPROM (Erasable
PROM; not Erasable
ROM as in Tanenbaum), which is like a CD-RW. An EPROM is especially.
convenient if it can be erased with a normal circuit (EEPROM,
Electrically EPROM or Flash RAM).
Memory Protection and Context Switching
As mentioned above when discussing
OS/MFT and OS/MVT
multiprogramming requires that we protect one process from another.
That is we need to translate the virtual addresses of
each program into distinct physical addresses. The
hardware that performs this translation is called the
MMU or Memory Management Unit.
When context switching from one process to
another, the translation must change, which can be an expensive