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Operating Systems - Interview Questions and answers

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In this post, you will find all the possible and most recent Job Interview questions and answers of Operating Systems  for OS category which you might be asked by your employer. These interview questions and answers will help you to get the job. 

1. Define latency, transfer and seek time with respect to disk I/O.
Seek time is the time required to move the disk arm to the required track. Rotational delay or latency is the time it takes for the beginning of the required sector to reach the head. The sum of seek time (if any) and latency is the access time. Time taken to actually transfer a span of data is transfer time.

2. Describe the Buddy system of memory allocation.
Free memory is maintained in linked lists, each of equal sized blocks. Any such block is of size 2^k. When some memory is required by a process, the block size of next higher order is chosen and broken into two. Note that the two such pieces differ in address only in their kth bit. Such pieces are called buddies. When any used block is freed, the OS checks to see if its buddy is also free. If so, it is rejoined and put into the original free-block linked-list.

3. Explain Belady's Anomaly?
Also called FIFO anomaly. Usually, on increasing the number of frames allocated to a process virtual memory, the process execution is faster, because fewer page faults occur. Sometimes, the reverse happens, i.e., the execution time increases even when more frames are allocated to the process. This is Belady's Anomaly. This is true for certain page reference patterns.

4. Explain the concept of Reentrancy?
It is a useful, memory-saving technique for multi-programmed timesharing systems. A Reentrant Procedure is one in which multiple users can share a single copy of a program during the same period. Reentrancy has 2 key aspects: The program code cannot modify itself, and the local data for each user process must be stored separately. Thus, the permanent part is the code, and the temporary part is the pointer back to the calling program and local variables used by that program. Each execution instance is called activation. It executes the code in the permanent part but has its own copy of local variables/parameters. The temporary part associated with each activation is the activation record. Generally, the activation record is kept on the stack.
Note: A reentrant procedure can be interrupted and called by an interrupting program, and still execute correctly on returning to the procedure.

5. Explain the popular multiprocessor thread-scheduling strategies.
• Load Sharing: Processes are not assigned to a particular processor. A global queue of threads is maintained. Each processor, when idle, selects a thread from this queue. Note that load balancing refers to a scheme where work is allocated to processors on a more permanent basis.
• Gang Scheduling: A set of related threads is scheduled to run on a set of processors at the same time, on a 1-to-1 basis. Closely related threads / processes may be scheduled this way to reduce synchronization blocking, and minimize process switching. Group scheduling predated this strategy.
• Dedicated processor assignment: Provides implicit scheduling defined by the assignment of threads to processors. For the duration of program execution, each program is allocated a set of processors equal in number to the number of threads in the program. Processors are chosen from the available pool.
• Dynamic scheduling: The number of thread in a program can be altered during the course of execution. 

6. How are the wait/signal operations for monitor different from those for semaphores?
If a process in a monitor signal and no task is waiting on the condition variable, the signal is lost. So this allows easier program design. Whereas in semaphores, every operation affects the value of the semaphore, so the wait and signal operations should be perfectly balanced in the program.

7. How many jobs can be run concurrently on MVT?
15 jobs.

8. In loading programs into memory, what is the difference between load-time dynamic linking and run-time dynamic linking?
For load-time dynamic linking: Load module to be loaded is read into memory. Any reference to a target external module causes that module to be loaded and the references are updated to a relative address from the start base address of the application module.

With run-time dynamic loading: Some of the linking is postponed until actual reference during execution. Then the correct module is loaded and linked.

9. In the context of memory management, what are placement and replacement algorithms?
Placement algorithms determine where in available real memory to load a program. Common methods are first-fit, next-fit, best-fit. Replacement algorithms are used when memory is full, and one process (or part of a process) needs to be swapped out to accommodate a new program. The replacement algorithm determines which are the partitions to be swapped out.

10. Is Windows NT a full blown object oriented operating system? Give reasons.
No Windows NT is not so because it is not implemented in object oriented language and the data structures reside within one executive component and are not represented as objects and it does not support object-oriented capabilities.

11. List out some reasons for process termination.
• Normal completion 
• Time limit exceeded
• Memory unavailable
• Bounds violation
• Protection error
• Arithmetic error
• Time overrun
• I/O failure
• Invalid instruction
• Privileged instruction
• Data misuse
• Operator or OS intervention
• Parent termination.

12. List the Coffman's conditions that lead to a deadlock.
• Mutual Exclusion: Only one process may use a critical resource at a time.
• Hold & Wait: A process may be allocated some resources while waiting for others. 
• No Pre-emption: No resource can be forcibly removed from a process holding it.
• Circular Wait: A closed chain of processes exist such that each process holds, at least, one resource needed by another process in the chain.

13. Paging a memory management function, while multiprogramming a processor management function, are the two interdependent?

14. What are DDks? Name an operating system that includes this feature.
DDks are device driver kits, which are equivalent to SDKs for writing device drivers. Windows NT includes DDks.

15. What are demand-paging and pre-paging?
With demand paging, a page is brought into memory only when a location on that page is actually referenced during execution. With pre-paging, pages other than the one demanded by a page fault are brought in. The selection of such pages is done based on common access patterns, especially for secondary memory devices.

16. What are local and global page replacements?
Local replacement means that an incoming page is brought in only to the relevant process address space. Global replacement policy allows any page frame from any process to be replaced. The latter is applicable to variable partitions model only.

17. What are rings in Windows NT?
Windows NT uses protection mechanism called rings provides by the process to implement separation between the user mode and kernel mode.

18. What is short, long and medium-term scheduling?
Long term scheduler determines which programs are admitted to the system for processing. It controls the degree of multiprogramming. Once admitted, a job becomes a process.

Medium term scheduling is part of the swapping function. This relates to processes that 
are in a blocked or suspended state. They are swapped out of real memory until they are ready to execute. The swapping-in decision is based on memory-management criteria.

Short term scheduler, also knows as a dispatcher executes most frequently, and makes the finest-grained decision of which process should execute next. This scheduler is invoked whenever an event occurs. It may lead to interruption of one process by preemption.

19. What are the four layers that Windows NT have in order to achieve independence?
• Hardware abstraction layer 
• Kernel
• Subsystems
• System Services.

20. What are the key object-oriented concepts used by Windows NT?
Encapsulation, Object class and instance.

21. What are the possible threads a thread can have?
• Ready
• Standby
• Running
• Waiting
• Transition
• Terminated

22. What are the reasons for process suspension?
• swapping
• the interactive user request
• timing
• parent process request

23. What are the stipulations of C2 level security?
C2 level security provides for: 

• Discretionary Access Control
• Identification and Authentication
• Auditing
• Resource reuse

24. What are the sub-components of I/O manager in Windows NT?
• Network redirector/ Server
• Cache manager.
• File systems
• Network driver
• Device driver

25. What are the typical elements of a process image?
User data: Modifiable part of user space. May include program data, user stack area, and 
programs that may be modified.

User program: The instructions to be executed.

System Stack: Each process has one or more LIFO stacks associated with it. Used to store parameters and calling addresses for procedure and system calls.

Process control Block (PCB): Info needed by the OS to control processes.

26. What are turnaround time and response time?
Turnaround time is the interval between the submission of a job and its completion. Response time is the interval between submission of a request and the first response to that request.

27. What has triggered the need for multitasking in PCs?
• Increased speed and memory capacity of microprocessors together with the support for virtual memory and 
• Growth of client-server computing

28. What is a binary semaphore? What is its use?
A binary semaphore is one, which takes only 0 and 1 as values. They are used to implement mutual exclusion and synchronize concurrent processes.

29. What is a drawback of MVT?
It does not have the features like 

• ability to support multiple processors 
• virtual storage
• source level debugging

30. What are a trap and trapdoor?
The trapdoor is a secret undocumented entry point into a program used to grant access without normal methods of access authentication. A trap is a software interrupt, usually the result of an error condition.

31. What is an idle thread?
The special thread a dispatcher will execute when no ready thread is found.

32. What is busy waiting?
The repeated execution of a loop of code while waiting for an event to occur is called busy-waiting. The CPU is not engaged in any real productive activity during this period, and the process does not progress toward completion.

33. What is cycle stealing?
We encounter cycle stealing in the context of Direct Memory Access (DMA). Either the DMA controller can use the data bus when the CPU does not need it, or it may force the CPU to temporarily suspend operation. The latter technique is called cycle stealing. Note that cycle stealing can be done only at specific break points in an instruction cycle.

34. What is Executive in Windows NT?
In Windows NT, executive refers to the operating system code that runs in kernel mode.

35. What is FtDisk?
It is a fault tolerance disk driver for Windows NT.

36. What is meant by arm-stickiness?
If one or a few processes have a high access rate to data on one track of a storage disk, then they may monopolize the device by repeated requests to that track. This generally happens with most common device scheduling algorithms (LIFO, SSTF, C-SCAN, etc). High-density multisurface disks are more likely to be affected by this than low-density ones.

37. What is the mutant?
In Windows NT a mutant provides kernel mode or user mode mutual exclusion with the notion of ownership.

38. What is page cannibalizing?
Page swapping or page replacements are called page cannibalizing.

39. What is process migration?
It is the transfer of sufficient amount of the state of the process from one machine to the target machine.

40. What is process spawning?
When the OS at the explicit request of another process creates a process, this action is called process spawning.

41. What is SMP?
To achieve maximum efficiency and reliability, a mode of operation known as symmetric multiprocessing is used. In essence, with SMP, any processor threads can be assigned to any processor.

42. What are the resident set and working set of a process?
The resident set is that portion of the processed image that is actually in real-memory at a particular instant. The working set is that subset of the resident set that is actually needed for execution. (Relate this to the variable window size method for swapping techniques.)

43. What is the Translation Lookaside Buffer (TLB)?
In a cached system, the base addresses of the last few referenced pages are maintained in registers called the TLB that aids in the faster lookup. TLB contains those page-table entries that have been most recently used. Normally, each virtual memory reference causes 2 physical memory accesses- one to fetch appropriate page-table entry, and one to fetch the desired data. Using TLB in-between, this is reduced to just one physical memory access in cases of TLB-hit.

44. What is thrashing?
It is a phenomenon in virtual memory schemes when the processor spends most of its time swapping pages, rather than executing instructions. This is due to an inordinate number of page faults.

45. What is time-stamping?
It is a technique proposed by Lamport, used to order events in a distributed system without the use of clocks. This scheme is intended to order events consisting of the transmission of messages. Each system 'i' in the network maintains a counter Ci. Every time a system transmits a message, it increments its counter by 1 and attaches the time-stamp Ti to the message. When a message is received, the receiving system 'j' sets its counter Cj to 1 more than the maximum of its current value and the incoming timestamp Ti. At each site, the ordering of messages is determined by the following rules: For messages x from site me and y from site j, x precedes y if one of the following conditions holds....(a) if Ti<Tj or (b) if Ti=Tj and I<j.

46. What level of security does Windows NT meet?
C2 level security.

47. When does the condition 'rendezvous' arise?
In message passing, it is the condition in which, both, the sender and receiver are blocked until the message is delivered.

48. When is a system in the safe state?
The set of dispatchable processes is in a safe state if there exists, at least, one temporal order in which all processes can be run to completion without resulting in a deadlock.