1 The Big Picture

At first glance, a contemporary operating system such as Linux is very complicated, with a dizzying number of pieces simultaneously running and communicating. For example, a web server can talk to a database server, which could in turn use a shared library that many other programs use. How does all of this manage to work, and how can you make sense of any of it?

The most effective way to understand how an operating system works is through abstraction—a fancy way of saying that you can ignore most of the details that make up a piece that you’re trying to understand, and concentrate instead on its basic purpose and operation. ...

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