File-System Implementation

As we saw in Chapter 10, the file system provides the mechanism for on-line storage and access to file contents, including data and programs. The file system resides permanently on secondary storage, which is designed to hold a large amount of data permanently. This chapter is primarily concerned with issues surrounding file storage and access on the most common secondary-storage medium, the disk. We explore ways to structure file use, to allocate disk space, to recover freed space, to track the locations of data, and to interface other parts of the operating system to secondary storage. Performance issues are considered throughout the chapter.


  • To describe the details of implementing local file systems and directory structures.
  • To describe the implementation of remote file systems.
  • To discuss block allocation and free-block algorithms and trade-offs.

11.1 File-System Structure

Disks provide most of the secondary storage on which file systems are maintained. Two characteristics make them convenient for this purpose:

  1. A disk can be rewritten in place; it is possible to read a block from the disk, modify the block, and write it back into the same place.
  2. A disk can access directly any block of information it contains. Thus, it is simple to access any file either sequentially or randomly, and switching from one file to another requires ...

Get Operating System Concepts Essentials, Second Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.