A processor refers to a logic circuitry that processes fundamental instructions of a computer. A processor fetches instructions, decodes them, and executes decoded instructions. Managing a processor involves two main issues that are interrelated. The first issue is to ensure that each application and process receives adequate time of the processor so as to function properly. Another issue involves using numerous processor cycles for real work. Essentially, all operating systems deal with a thread or a process in scheduling its work. A process refers to a running program whereas a thread is a sequence of the smallest-programmed instructions that a scheduler can manage independently. There are many examples of operating systems. By definition, an operating system refers to system software whose purpose is to manage computer software and hardware so as to provide computer programs relevant services. Examples of operating systems include Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, Linux, UNIX, and so on. Each operating system has its own way of managing its processor. This paper seeks to discuss how the UNIX operating system manages its processor or CPU.
UNIX is a multiprocessing and multi-user operating system. This operating system has its own way of solving system resource management issues. It is prudent to note that other than processor (CPU) management, UNIX manages I/O systems, a file system, and memory. The operating system can be single, multi-user, or multi-tasking system. Normally, each UNIX process has an initial single control thread and runs just a single program. Multiprogramming aspect of UNIX enables the processor to handle multiple interactive jobs as well as multiple batch jobs. Multiple interactive processes are several processes running concurrently. It is important to understand that for the time-sharing system, CPU's time is shared among multi-users. Imperatively, each user program is executed with a short computational time. This short computational time is usually referred to as a burst (or time slice, or quantum). In a UNIX, the time slice is usually between 0.1 and 1 second. This implies that a single process is run for a time slice, after which the CPU or processor is withdrawn from it and subsequently allocated another process. This new process also executes for a time slice, thereafter the CPU is withdrawn and given the processes that follow. It is worthy to understand that UNIX kernel's process management part allocates CPU to various processes. The management part schedules as well as switch context for a subsequent process that is just about to run. Usually, a process has a lifetime. This lifetime begins when UNIX operating system creates it and terminates when CPU located until it is withdrawn and given to the next process. A fork system call creates a process whereas an exit system terminates the process (Liu, Yue, & Guo, 2011).
In conclusion, there are numerous processes that a processor needs to execute. For this reason, a processor needs to effectively manage its available system so as to accommodate all the processes. For a UNIX operating system, it allocates each process or application enough time such that each process or application functions properly. To achieve this, UNIX has a time slice of 0.1 to 1 sec. A single program is allowed to run within this timeframe after which the processor is withdrawn from it and given to the next program in the queue. The cycle continues until all the processor gives enough time to the processes or application. The ramification for this is that UNIX operating system effectively manages its processor to accommodate multiple processes and applications.
Liu, Y., Yue, Y., & Guo, L. (2011). UNIX Process Management. In UNIX Operating System (pp. 81-122). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
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