How To

What is a process and how it looks like in an Operating System?


What actually is a process in terms of computing?

A process is nothing but an instance or a single occurrence of a particular program in an operating system.

There can be many cases of a process:

1. It can be made up of more than one threads which in turn are executing concurrently to perform or complete a specific action.

2. Or it is only a single threaded process.

When a program is in execution state then it is called a process

We can understand the concept of a process with the help of following pictures which are explained in parts:

Note: Following is the windows specific example.

Part 1: Now if a program is not executing and it is just an executable file then it known as a program.

firefox executable program

Part 2: When the program is executing then it is called a process which is currently running in the RAM and being entertained by the CPU in between context-switches.

firefox as a process

Part 3: A process contains threads as can be seen in the following picture, where Firefox is running as a single process but under it, there are many threads running.

firefox threads and process

From the above, it should be clear now about the topic and how it looks like while in execution and what is its relation with threads. Although there are more related terms to the topic, right now this is only for a pictorial representation of the topic so that it will be easier for you from now onwards to understand more typical concepts

Note: We are going to cover the difference between threads and processes in a later post till then if you have any questions or queries please put them in the comment section below.

Summary: We have discussed the topic, what is it and how actually it looks like in our computer system and the example given is specific to Windows OS only.

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