This lecture covers:
- The concept of an operating system.
- The internal architecture of an operating system.
- The evolution of the UNIX operating system into two broad schools (BSD and SYSV) and the development of Linux, a popular open source operating system.
- The architecture of the Linux operating system in more detail.
- How to log into (and out of) UNIX and change your password.
- The general format of UNIX commands.
|1.2 What is an Operating System?|
An operating system (OS) is a resource manager. It takes the form of a set of software routines that allow users and application programs to access system resources (e.g. the CPU, memory, disks, modems, printers network cards etc.) in a safe, efficient and abstract way.
For example, an OS ensures safe access to a printer by allowing only one application program to send data directly to the printer at any one time. An OS encourages efficient use of the CPU by suspending programs that are waiting for I/O operations to complete to make way for programs that can use the CPU more productively. An OS also provides convenient abstractions (such as files rather than disk locations) which isolate application programmers and users from the details of the underlying hardware.
Fig. 1.1: General operating system architecture
Fig. 1.1 presents the architecture of a typical operating system and shows how an OS succeeds in presenting users and application programs with a uniform interface without regard to the details of the underlying hardware. We see that:
Operating systems (and different flavours of the same operating system) can be distinguished from one another by the system calls, system utilities and user interface they provide, as well as by the resource scheduling policies implemented by the kernel.
- The operating system kernel is in direct control of the underlying hardware. The kernel provides low-level device, memory and processor management functions (e.g. dealing with interrupts from hardware devices, sharing the processor among multiple programs, allocating memory for programs etc.)
- Basic hardware-independent kernel services are exposed to higher-level programs through a library of system calls (e.g. services to create a file, begin execution of a program, or open a logical network connection to another computer).
- Application programs (e.g. word processors, spreadsheets) and system utility programs (simple but useful application programs that come with the operating system, e.g. programs which find text inside a group of files) make use of system calls. Applications and system utilities are launched using a shell (a textual command line interface) or a graphical user interface that provides direct user interaction.
|1.3 A Brief History of UNIX|
UNIX has been a popular OS for more than two decades because of its multi-user, multi-tasking environment, stability, portability and powerful networking capabilities. What follows here is a simplified history of how UNIX has developed (to get an idea for how complicated things really are, see the web site http://www.levenez.com/unix/).
Fig. 1.2: Simplified UNIX FamilyTree
In the late 1960s, researchers from General Electric, MIT and Bell Labs launched a joint project to develop an ambitious multi-user, multi-tasking OS for mainframe computers known as MULTICS (Multiplexed Information and Computing System). MULTICS failed (for some MULTICS enthusiasts "failed" is perhaps too strong a word to use here), but it did inspire Ken Thompson, who was a researcher at Bell Labs, to have a go at writing a simpler operating system himself. He wrote a simpler version of MULTICS on a PDP7 in assembler and called his attempt UNICS (Uniplexed Information and Computing System). Because memory and CPU power were at a premium in those days, UNICS (eventually shortened to UNIX) used short commands to minimize the space needed to store them and the time needed to decode them - hence the tradition of short UNIX commands we use today, e.g. ls, cp, rm, mv etc.
Ken Thompson then teamed up with Dennis Ritchie, the author of the first C compiler in 1973. They rewrote the UNIX kernel in C - this was a big step forwards in terms of the system's portability - and released the Fifth Edition of UNIX to universities in 1974. The Seventh Edition, released in 1978, marked a split in UNIX development into two main branches: SYSV (System 5) and BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution). BSD arose from the University of California at Berkeley where Ken Thompson spent a sabbatical year. Its development was continued by students at Berkeley and other research institutions. SYSV was developed by AT&T and other commercial companies. UNIX flavours based on SYSV have traditionally been more conservative, but better supported than BSD-based flavours.
The latest incarnations of SYSV (SVR4 or System 5 Release 4) and BSD Unix are actually very similar. Some minor differences are to be found in file system structure, system utility names and options and system call libraries as shown in Fig 1.3.
Feature Typical SYSV Typical BSD
kernel name /unix /vmunix
boot init /etc/rc.d directories /etc/rc.* files
mounted FS /etc/mnttab /etc/mtab
default shell sh, ksh csh, tcsh
FS block size 512 bytes->2K 4K->8K
print subsystem lp, lpstat, cancel lpr, lpq, lprm
echo command echo "\c" echo -n
(no new line)
ps command ps -fae ps -aux
multiple wait poll select
memory access memset, memcpy bzero, bcopy
Fig. 1.3: Differences between SYSV and BSD
Linux is a free open source UNIX OS for PCs that was originally developed in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, a Finnish undergraduate student. Linux is neither pure SYSV or pure BSD. Instead, incorporates some features from each (e.g. SYSV-style startup files but BSD-style file system layout) and aims to conform with a set of IEEE standards called POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface). To maximise code portability, it typically supports SYSV, BSD and POSIX system calls (e.g. poll, select, memset, memcpy, bzero and bcopy are all supported).
The open source nature of Linux means that the source code for the Linux kernel is freely available so that anyone can add features and correct deficiencies. This approach has been very successful and what started as one person's project has now turned into a collaboration of hundreds of volunteer developers from around the globe. The open source approach has not just successfully been applied to kernel code, but also to application programs for Linux (see e.g. http://www.freshmeat.net).
As Linux has become more popular, several different development streams or distributions have emerged, e.g. Redhat, Slackware, Mandrake, Debian, and Caldera. A distribution comprises a prepackaged kernel, system utilities, GUI interfaces and application programs.
Redhat is the most popular distribution because it has been ported to a large number of hardware platforms (including Intel, Alpha, and SPARC), it is easy to use and install and it comes with a comprehensive set of utilities and applications including the X Windows graphics system, GNOME and KDE GUI environments, and the StarOffice suite (an open source MS-Office clone for Linux).
|1.4 Architecture of the Linux Operating System|
Linux has all of the components of a typical OS (at this point you might like to refer back to Fig 1.1):
The Linux kernel includes device driver support for a large number of PC hardware devices (graphics cards, network cards, hard disks etc.), advanced processor and memory management features, and support for many different types of filesystems (including DOS floppies and the ISO9660 standard for CDROMs). In terms of the services that it provides to application programs and system utilities, the kernel implements most BSD and SYSV system calls, as well as the system calls described in the POSIX.1 specification.
The kernel (in raw binary form that is loaded directly into memory at system startup time) is typically found in the file /boot/vmlinuz, while the source files can usually be found in /usr/src/linux.The latest version of the Linux kernel sources can be downloaded from http://www.kernel.org.
- Shells and GUIs
Linux supports two forms of command input: through textual command line shells similar to those found on most UNIX systems (e.g. sh - the Bourne shell, bash - the Bourne again shell and csh - the C shell) and through graphical interfaces (GUIs) such as the KDE and GNOME window managers. If you are connecting remotely to a server your access will typically be through a command line shell.
- System Utilities
Virtually every system utility that you would expect to find on standard implementations of UNIX (including every system utility described in the POSIX.2 specification) has been ported to Linux. This includes commands such as ls, cp, grep, awk, sed, bc, wc, more, and so on. These system utilities are designed to be powerful tools that do a single task extremely well (e.g. grep finds text inside files while wc counts the number of words, lines and bytes inside a file). Users can often solve problems by interconnecting these tools instead of writing a large monolithic application program.
Like other UNIX flavours, Linux's system utilities also include server programs called daemons which provide remote network and administration services (e.g. telnetd and sshd provide remote login facilities, lpd provides printing services, httpd serves web pages, crond runs regular system administration tasks automatically). A daemon (probably derived from the Latin word which refers to a beneficient spirit who watches over someone, or perhaps short for "Disk And Execution MONitor") is usually spawned automatically at system startup and spends most of its time lying dormant (lurking?) waiting for some event to occur.
- Application programs
Linux distributions typically come with several useful application programs as standard. Examples include the emacs editor, xv (an image viewer), gcc (a C compiler), g++ (a C++ compiler), xfig (a drawing package), latex (a powerful typesetting language) and soffice (StarOffice, which is an MS-Office style clone that can read and write Word, Excel and PowerPoint files).
Redhat Linux also comes with rpm, the Redhat Package Manager which makes it easy to install and uninstall application programs.
|1.5 Logging into (and out of) UNIX Systems|
Text-based (TTY) terminals:
When you connect to a UNIX computer remotely (using telnet) or when you log in locally using a text-only terminal, you will see the prompt:
At this prompt, type in your usename and press the enter/return/ key. Remember that UNIX is case sensitive (i.e. Will, WILL and will are all different logins). You should then be prompted for your password:
Type your password in at the prompt and press the enter/return/ key. Note that your password will not be displayed on the screen as you type it in.
If you mistype your username or password you will get an appropriate message from the computer and you will be presented with the login: prompt again. Otherwise you should be presented with a shell prompt which looks something like this:
To log out of a text-based UNIX shell, type "exit" at the shell prompt (or if that doesn't work try "logout"; if that doesn't work press ctrl-d).
If you're logging into a UNIX computer locally, or if you are using a remote login facility that supports graphics, you might instead be presented with a graphical prompt with login and password fields. Enter your user name and password in the same way as above (N.B. you may need to press the TAB key to move between fields).
Once you are logged in, you should be presented with a graphical window manager that looks similar to the Microsoft Windows interface. To bring up a window containing a shell prompt look for menus or icons which mention the words "shell", "xterm", "console" or "terminal emulator".
To log out of a graphical window manager, look for menu options similar to "Log out" or "Exit".
|1.6 Changing your password|
One of the things you should do when you log in for the first time is to change your password.
The UNIX command to change your password is passwd:
The system will prompt you for your old password, then for your new password. To eliminate any possible typing errors you have made in your new password, it will ask you to reconfirm your new password.
Remember the following points when choosing your password:
|1.7 General format of UNIX commands|
A UNIX command line consists of the name of a UNIX command (actually the "command" is the name of a built-in shell command, a system utility or an application program) followed by its "arguments" (options and the target filenames and/or expressions). The general syntax for a UNIX command is
$ command -options targets
Here command can be though of as a verb, options as an adverb and targets as the direct objects of the verb. In the case that the user wishes to specify several options, these need not always be listed separately (the options can sometimes be listed altogether after a single dash).
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