Interprocess Communication in Operating System

Interprocess Communication in Operating System

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Anshuman
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on May 17, 2024 15:59 IST

Processes in the operating system need to communicate with each other. That is called Interprocess communication. If you want to know more about it, read this article, which will cover different ways inter-process communication is done.

Interprocess communication (IPC) is one of the key mechanisms used by operating systems to achieve these goals. IPC helps processes communicate with each other without having to go through user-level routines or interfaces. It allows different parts of a program to access shared data and files without causing conflicts among them. In inter-process communication, messages are exchanged between two or more processes. Processes can be on the same computer or on different computers. In this article, we will discuss IPC and its need, and different approaches for doing IPC.

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Table of content

What is Interprocess Communication?

Interprocess communication (IPC) is a process that allows different processes of a computer system to share information. IPC lets different programs run in parallel, share data, and communicate with each other. It’s important for two reasons: First, it speeds up the execution of tasks, and secondly, it ensures that the tasks run correctly and in the order that they were executed.

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Why Interprocess Communication is Necessary

IPC lets different programs run in parallel, share data, and communicate with each other. It’s important for two reasons:

  • It speeds up the execution of tasks.
  • It ensures that the tasks run correctly and in the order that they were executed.
  • IPC is essential for the efficient operation of an operating system.
  • Operating systems use IPC to exchange data with tools and components that the system uses to interact with the user, such as the keyboard, the mouse, and the graphical user interface (GUI).
  • IPC also lets the system run multiple programs at the same time. For example, the system might use IPC to provide information to the windowing system about the status of a window on the screen.

Comparison with a real-life example

When you are using a team-based system, it is necessary to communicate with all the teams in the company. Some of them are the Business Objects and product sales teams, and others are the technical teams. Communication between them will speed up the work and overall efficiency will also increase. So, in the same way, an operating system allows a particular program to handle several user requests simultaneously. And overall efficiency will increase.

Advantages of Interprocess Communication

  • Interprocess communication allows one application to manage another and enables glitch-free data sharing. 
  • Interprocess communication helps send messages efficiently between processes.
  • The program is easy to maintain and debug because it is divided into different sections of code that work separately.
  •  Programmers can perform a variety of other tasks at the same time, including Editing, listening to music, compiling, etc. 
  • Data can be shared between different programs at the same time. 
  • Tasks can be subdivided and run on special types of processors. You can then exchange data via IPC. 

Disadvantages of Interprocess Communication

  • The program cannot write to similar locations.
  • Processes or programs that use the shared memory model must make sure that they are not writing to similar memory locations.
  • The shared storage model can cause problems such as storage synchronization and protection that need to be addressed. 
  • It’s slower than a direct function call. 
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How does IPC work in Computer Systems?

IPC occurs when an application sends a message to an operating system process. The operating system sends the message to a designated IPC mechanism, which handles the message and sends a response back to the application. IPC mechanisms can be found in the kernel or the user space of an operating system.

IPC is an essential process in the operation of computer systems. It enables different programs to run in parallel, share data, and communicate with each other. IPC is important for the efficient operation of an operating system and ensures that the tasks run correctly and in the order that they were executed.

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How to do Interprocess Communication

1. Message Passing

Another important way inter-process communication occurs with other processes is via message passing. When two or more processes participate in inter-process communication, each process sends messages to the others via Kernel. Here is an example of sending messages between two processes: – Here, the process sends a message like “M” to the OS kernel. This message is then read by Process B. A communication link is required between the two processes for successful message exchange. There are several ways to create these links.

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Also read: Operating System Online Courses & Certifications

2. Shared memory

Shared memory is a memory shared between all processes by two or more processes established using shared memory. This type of memory should protect each other by synchronizing access between all processes. Both processes, like A and B, can set up a shared memory segment and exchange data through this shared memory area. Shared memory is important for these reasons-

  • It is a way of passing data between processes. 
  • Shared memory is much faster and more reliable than these methods. 
  • Shared memory allows two or more processes to share the same copy of the data.

Suppose process A wants to communicate with process and needs to attach its address space to this shared memory segment. Process A will write a message to the shared memory, and Process B will read that message from the shared memory. So, processes are responsible for ensuring synchronization so that both processes do not write to the same location at the same time.

 

3. Pipes

Pipes are a type of data channel commonly used for one-way communication between two processes. Because this is a half-duplex technique,  the primary process communicates with the secondary process. However, additional lines are required to achieve a full duplex. The two pipes create a bidirectional data channel between the two processes. But one pipe creates a unidirectional data channel. Pipes are primarily used on Windows operating systems. Like in the diagram it is shown that one process will send a message to the pipe. The message will be retrieved, and another process will write it to the standard output.

4. Signal

The signal is a facility that allows processes to communicate with each other. A signal is a way of telling a process that it needs to do something. A process can send a signal to another process. A signal also allows a process to interrupt another process. A signal is a way of communicating between processes. 

Conclusion

In this article, we have discussed interprocess communication with its advantages and disadvantages. Importantly, this article includes different approaches to interprocess communication. If you liked this article, then do share and like the article. 

FAQs

Explain IPC models.

There are two basic models used in IPC. Shared memory: "shared data" is available directly to each process in its address space. Message passing: "shared data" is explicitly exchanged.

Write operations planned by IPC?

Response: Receive ([Sender], Message Store object) Connection for connection-oriented communication (sender address, receiver address). Send ([Recipient], message) For connection-oriented communication, disconnect (connection identifier).

What is a socket?

Paraphrased Text Sockets allow bidirectional point-to-point communication between two processes. Sockets are extremely versatile and are a fundamental part of communication between processes and systems. A socket is a communication endpoint to which you can bind a name. There is a type and one or more processes associated with it.

What are signals?

Signals are one of the oldest interprocess communication methods used in Unix u2122 systems. These are used to notify one or more processes of asynchronous events. The signal can be generated by keyboard interrupts or error conditions such as B. When a process attempts to access a non-existent location in virtual memory. Signals are also used by the shell to send job control commands to child processes.

How do you distinguish between synchronous and asynchronous communication?

An IPC operation can provide the required synchronization by using a lock operation issued by a process that blocks further processing of the process until the operation is satisfied. Alternatively, IPC operations can be asynchronous or non-blocking. Asynchronous operations issued by a process do not block further processing by the process. Instead, the process can continue and optionally be notified by the system when the operation is complete.

About the Author
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Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio