Skip to main content

Process Management in Operating System

Process management is an important aspect of operating system (OS) design, and it refers to the processes involved in creating, scheduling, terminating, and managing processes within an operating system. In this article, we will explore the basics of process management in operating systems.

What is a process?

A process is an instance of a computer program that is being executed by a computer's operating system. A process can be thought of as a program in execution. A process has its own memory space, program counter, and set of registers. It may also have one or more threads of execution.

A process can be created by another process, which is known as the parent process. The parent process can create multiple child processes, each of which can execute different parts of the program. Each process has a unique process identifier (PID) assigned to it by the operating system. This PID is used to identify the process and to perform various operations on it.

Creating a process

When a process is created, the operating system allocates a memory space for the process, initializes the process control block (PCB) for the process, and sets up the initial values of the process's registers. The PCB contains information about the process, such as its state, priority, and resource usage.

The operating system may create a process in response to a user request, or it may create a process automatically as part of the system's startup process. When a user requests a process, the operating system must first check whether the requested program is available in memory. If it is not, the operating system must load the program from disk into memory.

Once the program is loaded into memory, the operating system can create a new process. The operating system sets up the process's initial state and assigns it a unique PID. The new process is then added to the list of active processes in the system.

Process state

A process can be in one of several states at any given time. The state of a process determines what the operating system can do with the process. The possible states of a process are:

  1. New: The process has been created but has not yet been loaded into memory.
  2. Ready: The process is loaded into memory and is waiting for the CPU to execute it.
  3. Running: The CPU is executing the process.
  4. Blocked: The process is unable to continue executing because it is waiting for some event to occur (e.g., input/output).
  5. Terminated: The process has finished executing and has been removed from memory.

Process scheduling

Process scheduling is the mechanism by which the operating system decides which process to run next on the CPU. The goal of process scheduling is to maximize the utilization of the CPU while ensuring that each process gets a fair share of the CPU.

There are several scheduling algorithms that the operating system can use to schedule processes. The most common algorithms are:

  1. First-Come, First-Served (FCFS): This algorithm schedules processes in the order in which they arrive. The first process to arrive is the first to be scheduled for execution.
  2. Shortest Job First (SJF): This algorithm schedules processes based on the length of their CPU burst. The process with the shortest CPU burst is scheduled first.
  3. Priority Scheduling: This algorithm schedules processes based on their priority level. The process with the highest priority is scheduled first.
  4. Round Robin (RR): This algorithm schedules processes in a circular fashion. Each process is given a small time slice to execute, and then the CPU is given to the next process in the queue.

Process synchronization

Process synchronization is the mechanism by which processes coordinate with each other to avoid conflicts and ensure correct operation. The most common synchronization mechanisms are:

  1. Mutual Exclusion: This mechanism ensures that only one process can access a shared resource at a time.
  2. Semaphores: This mechanism provides a way for processes to communicate and synchronize with each other by using shared variables.
  3. Monitors: This mechanism provides a higher-level abstraction for synchronization by encapsulating shared resources and providing a set of procedures for accessing them.
  4. Message Passing: This mechanism allows processes to communicate with each other by sending messages.

Process communication

Processes can communicate with each other in several ways. The most common methods of inter-process communication (IPC) are:

  1. Shared Memory: This method allows processes to share a region of memory that can be used for communication. Processes can read and write to the shared memory to communicate with each other.
  2. Pipes: This method provides a way for processes to communicate by using a unidirectional communication channel. One process writes data to the pipe, and the other process reads data from the pipe.
  3. Message Queues: This method provides a way for processes to communicate by using a message buffer. One process writes a message to the queue, and the other process reads the message from the queue.
  4. Sockets: This method provides a way for processes to communicate over a network by using a socket. A socket is a software endpoint that can send and receive data over a network.

Process termination

When a process finishes executing, the operating system must terminate the process and reclaim the resources that were allocated to it. The process termination process involves:

  1. Removing the process from the list of active processes.
  2. Releasing any resources that were allocated to the process, such as memory and file handles.
  3. Notifying the parent process of the termination, if applicable.

If a process terminates abnormally, the operating system must also clean up any resources that were left in an inconsistent state.


Process management is an essential part of operating system design, and it involves creating, scheduling, synchronizing, communicating, and terminating processes. The operating system must ensure that each process gets a fair share of the CPU while maximizing its utilization. The operating system must also provide mechanisms for processes to coordinate with each other to avoid conflicts and ensure correct operation. Finally, the operating system must clean up resources that were allocated to a process when it terminates. By managing processes effectively, the operating system can provide a stable and efficient environment for executing computer programs.


Please share your knowledge to improve code and content standard. Also submit your doubts, and test case. We improve by your feedback. We will try to resolve your query as soon as possible.

New Comment