File Management In An Operating System

In this article I take a brief look at how the operating system(OS) deals with files. Internet File users are assured that when they type in a URL or e-mail address, they will be connected to the correct Web site or e-mail box.

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Definition

Its a collection of data that normally is stored on a secondary storage device such as a hard disk or floppy diskette.

The operations performed on them

An OS must provide a number of operations associated with files so that users can safely store and retrieve data.

Typical File operations are

Open

Close

Create

Copy

Rename

List

In addition, operations on single data elements within a file are supported by

Read

Write

Seek

File Control Blocks

File control blocks (FCB), sometimes referred to as file descriptors, are data structures that hold information about a file. When an OS needs to access a file, it creates an associated file control block to manage the file.

The structure of the file control block differs between operating systems, but most file control blocks include the following parts

Name

Location on secondary storage

Length

Date and time or creation or last access

Naming

Each OS uses a specific convention or practice for naming them.

MS-DOS Uses eight character names, a dot, then a three-character extension that denotes the type of file. Filenames are not case-sensitive.

UNIX Filenames can be up to 254 characters long and are case-sensitive.

Windows Filenames can be up to 255 characters long and are not case-sensitive.

Types

Types refer to classifying the content of the file, such as a program, text, executable program or data.

In Windows operating systems, the type is derived from the filename extension. Typical types and their extensions are

File Extension

Type

.bas

basic source program

.c

c source program

.dll

system library

.doc

Word document

.exe

executable program

.txt

text

Windows associates applications (programs) with specific types. For example, the default application that opens to process a type.txt is the Notepad editor.

How an operating system keep track of file

The hard disk is comprised of a large number of sequentially numbered sectors. As files are created, free sectors are allocated to hold the its contents and marked as allocated.

To keep track of the sectors and whether they are allocated or free, and to which file they belong, the OS maintains a number of tables.

Root file system

When the OS is first installed, it creates a root file system on the disk that specifies how many sectors are available and how they will be allocated.

The root file system is a table of entries like a directory. In general, this is a fixed size, and once full, no more entries can be added.Each entry can be either a file or another directory table.

The Root file system entry

This is highly operating system specific, but an entry might look like,

Name

Beginning cluster File number

Length in bytes

Type

Creation date and last modified right

It is safe to say that without the Domain Name System (DNS), the Internet would not be the force it is today.

In the early days of the Internet, users trying to reach another host on the network were required to input lengthy IP number strings (e.g., 74.125.45.105- a listed IP address for Google). As the internet grew number strings became more cumbersome and unworkable as most users could not consistently remember the proper sequencing of random numbers.

To simplify this process:

A solution was developed based on a data solution (flat file) that related each IP address to a comparatively easy-to-remember common language address (e.g., Amazon.com, U-Tube.com, and Twitter.com) that was easy to remember and provided ease of use.

By the late 1980s, the flat file had evolved to the Domain Name System (DNS) in use today-a system that is open, distributed, and expands as users, enterprises, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and domains appear on the network. Ease of use and expandability was the goal but, since cyber security attacks and malware were virtually unknown, DNS security was not a priority.

DNS is very effective and works in the background of search activity.

Internet users are assured that when they type in a URL or e-mail address, they will be connected to the correct Web site or e-mail box. Many commercial companies developed brand strategies based on this functionality in order to use the Internet’s reach to develop more customers and increase sales/revenue. Most of these companies adopted a.com or.net extension. The Federal government adopted a.gov or.mil extension.

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