Skip to main content

Process Management in Unix/Linux


This chapter covers process management in Unix/Linux. It explains the principle of multitasking and introduces the process concept. It uses a programming example to illustrate the principles and techniques of multitasking, context switching and processes. The multitasking system supports dynamic process creation, process termination, process synchronization by sleep and wakeup, process relations and implementation of process family tree as a binary tree, allowing parent process to wait for child process termination. It provides a concrete example of how process management functions work in an operating system kernel. Then it explains the origin of processes in Unix/Linux, from the initial process during booting to INIT process, daemon processes, login processes and sh process for user command execution. Next, it explains the execution modes of processes, transitions from User mode to Kernel mode by interrupts, exceptions and system calls. Then it describes Unix/Linux system calls for process management, which include fork, wait, exec and exit. It explains the relationship between parent and child processes, including a detailed description between process termination and the wait operation by parent process. It explains how to handle orphan processes by the INIT process, including subreaper processes in current Linux, and it demonstrates subreaper process by example. Then it explains changing process execution image by exec in detail, which includes the execve system call, command-line parameters and environment variables. It explains the principles and techniques of I/O redirections, pipes and shows pipe programming by examples. The programming project of this chapter is for the reader to integrate the concepts and techniques of process management to implement a sh simulator for command execution. The sh simulator works exactly the same as the standard sh. It supports executions of simple commands, commands with I/O redirections and multiple commands connected by pipes.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-92429-8_3
  • Chapter length: 40 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-319-92429-8
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   74.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 3.1
Fig. 3.2
Fig. 3.3
Fig. 3.4
Fig. 3.5
Fig. 3.6
Fig. 3.7
Fig. 3.8
Fig. 3.9


  • Bach, M. J., “The Design of the Unix operating system”, Prentice Hall, 1990

    Google Scholar 

  • Bovet, D. P., Cesati, M., Understanding the Linux Kernel, O’Reilly, 2005

    Google Scholar 

  • Silberschatz, A., P.A. Galvin, P.A., Gagne, G, “Operating system concepts, 8th Edition”, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2009

    Google Scholar 

  • Love, R. Linux Kernel Development, 2nd Edition, Novell Press, 2005

    Google Scholar 

  • Stallings, W. “Operating Systems: Internals and Design Principles (7th Edition)”, Prentice Hall, 2011

    Google Scholar 

  • Tanenbaum, A.S., Woodhull, A.S., “Operating Systems, Design and Implementation, third Edition”, Prentice Hall, 2006

    Google Scholar 

  • Wang, K.C., “Design and Implementation of the MTX Operating System”, Springer A.G. 2015

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2018 Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Wang, K.C. (2018). Process Management in Unix/Linux. In: Systems Programming in Unix/Linux. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-92428-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-92429-8

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)