All about Process in Linux/Unix – Developer Perspective


In Linux every thing we sees executing or taking some action will be by the process. Processes carry out tasks within the operating system. For definition ” Any program in execution is called process”.  A program is a set of machine code instructions and data stored in an executable area of memory.

Processes are separate tasks each with their own rights and responsibilities. Each individual process runs in its own address space and not interacting with another process except through secure, kernel managed mechanisms.


An instance of a program is called a Process. In simple terms, any command that you give to terminal on your Linux machine starts a new process. Having multiple processes for the same program is possible. A process itself not a process, until it comes info execution.

In a Linux system no process is independent of any other process. Every process in the system, except the initial process has a parent process. New processes are not created, they are copied, or cloned from previous processes.

Types of Process:-

  • Foreground Process: A foreground process is any command or task you run directly and wait for it complete. They run on the screen and need input from the user.

A foreground Process begins by typing a command at prompt. For example, list of files in current directory

  • Background Processes: In Linux, a background process is nothing but process running independently. They run in the background and usually do not need user input.

For example

  • Antivirus in your computer, normally it is running in background.


Basic command for Linux process:-


The ps command is used to provide information about the currently running process, including their process identification number(PID).

The basic syntax of ps is


When ps is used without any option, which display default  information of process currently running on the system .

The four items are labeled PID,TTY,TIME,CMD

PID-  Process identification number.

TTY- TTY is the name of console or terminal shows currently console.

TIME- Time is the amount of CPU, time in minutes and seconds that the process has been running.

CMD- Cmd is the name of the command that launched the process.





ps –e:-

ps –e command is used for list of all process running on the system in a single shot

>ps –e
  • –e show all process not just those belonging to user.














pstree is a command that shows the running processes as a tree fromat. It  is  used as a alternative to the ps command.

The basic syntax of the pstree is


pstree command is similar to the ps command, but instead of listing the running processes ,it shows in a tree format.












Linux treats everything as file, even the processes as files under /proc directories. The processes are basically program in execution, they also called jobs

The bg command is the processes that have been stopped by some interrupt signal can be continued background with bg command

Syntax for bg command

  • ./output &





The  fg command  is like bg command Except that instead of sending a command in the background it runs them in foreground and occupies the current terminal and wait for process to exit.


In Linux, top is a command used to display processor activity of your linux , this command shows the  information of the system and the list of processes  which are currently running in the Linux













  • PID:Shows task’s unique process id.
  • PR: Stands for priority of the task.
  • SHR:Represents the amount of shared memory used by a task.
  • VIRT:Total virtual memory used by the task.
  • USER:User name of owner of task.
  • %CPU: Represents the CPU usage.
  • TIME+:CPU Time, the same as ‘TIME’, but reflecting more granularity through hundredths of a second.
  • SHR:Represents the Shared Memory size (kb) used by a task.
  • NI:Represents a Nice Value of task. A Negative nice value implies higher priority, and positive Nice value means lower priority.
  • %MEM: Shows the Memory usage of task.



kill command in Linux (located in /bin/kill), is a built-in command which is used to terminate processes manually. kill command sends a signal to a process which terminates the process.



> kill -9 -1        Kill all processes you can kill.

> kill -l 11         Translate number 11 into a signal name.

> kill -L             List the available signal choices in a nice table.

> kill 3453         Send the default signal, SIGTERM, to all those processes.


Now we will learn the Process with the developer prospective, here user can write C program using any editor wish and compile code using GCC.

Process  Identification:-

In Linux, User can be running various programs in the system, each running program must be unique identified by the kernel and program id identified by its own process is called “PID”, therefore process can be further categorized into

  • Parent process.
  • Child process.

Parent process-Parent process is processes that create other processes during run-time.

In command prompt, Command to get the parent process identity.

Header file need to include for getpid():

  • Sys/types.h
  • unistd.h

Child process-Child process are created by the parent process by cone of it ,it will be behaves same as parent.

In command prompt, Command to get the child process identity.

Header file need to include for getppid():

  • Sys/types.h
  • unistd.h


Now our first steps is to create process, fork is the system call which is used to create process. read on and follow –


Fork is a way to create new processes, fork() operation create a separate processes as a copy of itself then, the copy called the “child process”.

The child process has an exact copy of  the parent process. After the fork, both processes not only run the same program

The child has its own unique process ID and this PID not match the ID of any existing process

The child parent process ID is the same as the parent’s process ID.

Return value:

On success, the PID of the child is returned in the parent, and “0” is returned in the child. On failure, “-1” is returned in the parent, no child process is created and errno is set appropriately.


Header file need to include for fork:















In Linux, Sleep() I s causes the calling thread to sleep either until of real-time specified in seconds have to elapsed .

Steps for sleep():-

Step 1– write a source code for sleep(), as shown in below image.

Step 2– Search for PID in all current running processes, by giving command ps.

Step 3-Enter in /proc and search that Pid by using ls command.

Step 4– Enter the Pid proc type cat status for the process states. Now you should be in /proc/pidof_yourprocess. Steps shown below.

$cd /proc <┘

$ls <┘

$cd  /proc/pid <┘

$cat status <┘

Now see the status of process, it will show process is sleeping.














Now check the status of process, that is sleeping.










wait system call

wait()  blocks the calling process until one of its child processes exits or a signal is received. After child process terminates, parent continues its execution after wait system call instruction.

Header files for wait:

  • sys/wait.h











Exec System calls family:-


  • Exec family of function or system call replace current process with new process.
  • There are various function used in the Exec  like
    • Execl
    • Exclp
    • Execle
    • Execve
    • Execvp
    • Execvpe

Header file need to include is


Example for execlp:-









Orphan process:-

Orphan processes are those processes that are still running even though their parent process has terminated or finished. A process can be orphaned intentionally or unintentionally.

An intentionally orphaned process runs in the background without any manual support. This is usually done to start an indefinitely running service or to complete a long-running job without user attention.

An unintentionally orphaned process is created when its parent process crashes or terminates. Unintentional orphan processes can be avoided using the process group mechanism.

Zombie process

Zombie processes usually occur for child processes, as the parent process still needs to read its child’s exit or crashes . Once this is done using the wait system call, the zombie process is eliminated from the process . This is known as the zombie process.

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How Are Data Structures Useful In Embedded Systems?

How are data structures useful in embedded systems

Data Structures in Embedded Systems

This is a very common question my student is asking when we are data structure class for them. When a student joins embedded system training in our institute the data structure is not required an embedded system.
So we thought to write details description of where the data structure is used in the embedded world, so it will help another student across the world who can’t join embedded system training in Bangalore, India.
In the embedded system we are processing a large amount of data from Sensors/devices like ADC, accelerometer/gyro meter, data logger. Normally these data come to the microcontroller using UART, IIC, SPI, or Internal reading of registers like in case of internal ADC register. You can read our post which is talking about many types of sensors in an embedded system.

Most of the time data is updated in the microsecond or millisecond. It means a lot of data, so defiantly we have to save these data in the data structure. First, we will see what mechanism available in C language to save data, and then we will go through the real-time examples which type of data is saved into which type of data structure practically.

Different Data Structure in C

Data structures are arrays, structure, union, files, queues, stack, Linked lists, binary trees etc.


To store a single data we use variables. To store a large number of data of the same data type we use arrays. The array is a collection of the same data type variable. In array, memory is allocated continuously.

Arrays can be a single dimension or multi-dimensions.
The size of the array is declared while declaring the array data type. It means we can’t change the size of the array run time. Here are the examples of Array
ex: int arr[5]; if starting address of arr is 0x7890, here we consider integer is 4 bytes long, then the array will be saved following ways.

Address of arr[0] is 0x7890
Address of arr[1] is 0x7894
Address of arr[2] is 0x7898
Address of arr[3] is 0x789c
Address of arr[4] is 0x78a0

Practical Example:

int AdcValue[100]: Read ADC value and save it into an array. Data will be read and save into an array.
float Temperature [50]: Here we are saving the temperature of the wheel and saving it into an array. We will take an average of all 50 elements and then find the average.
char UserName[40][20]: Here save 40 user name into an array, each size is 20 bytes long maximum.


The structure is a group of different or same data type elements. In structure, we can have a float, int, char, etc data types grouped together. The memory allocated to structure elements is continuous, the first element occupies the memory address equal to the structure address, and next it stores the second element in memory.


struct Sen
char ch;
float receiveddata;
short count;
} senvar;

Here the sizeof structure senvar is 12 bytes, but if we calculate individual variable sizes than it becomes 1+4+2= 7 bytes. This is because the 32 bit systems stores the data in 32 bit aligned. First, if it stores character then if it stores float 4-byte size, then it would not store the data next to the character since if it stores then 4 bytes not stored in one 4 byte sequence. 3 bytes stored in one row and 1 byte in another row.

structure start address 0xffff5560
char ch stored at 0xffff5560
flaot receiveddata stored at 0xffff5564
short count stroed at 0xffff5568

So to save the memory while declaring the data in a structure we keep the elements aligned to 4 bytes size all integers, floats at one place then characters and short integers another place.
using structure packing instruction to the compiler we pack the data nest to each other for GCC compiler with code blocks you can use #pragma pack(1) to pack the structure.

Structure with bitfields:

To store the data in bit or bitfield of a memory we use structure fields.
In microcontroller we use registers, to access the bitfields of the register we can use structure/union bitfields.

struct reg{
unsigned int bit1:1;
unsigned int bit2:1;
unsigned int bitfield1:4;
unsigned int bitfield2:7;
unsigned int bitfield3:9;
unsigned int bitfield4:5;
unsigned int bitfield4:5;
} controlreg1;
here the bit1 is the bit name, 1 is the size of the bit
here the bitfield1 is the bitfield name, 4 is the size of the bitfield, etc.


The union also can be used to store the variables of different data types. Here all the data stored in the same memory location, the size of the union is equal to the biggest variable data it is holding.
we can also use the union to access both the register and bitfields.
Example: for example, we can define the structure in a union to access both register and
union {
unsigned int reg32;
struct {
unsigned int b1:6;
unsigned int b2:4;
unsigned int b3:6;
unsigned int b4:8;
unsigned int b5:8;

Practical Example:

typedef struct
/// Endpoint ID, 0 to 254 255 (0xFF) is used as an end-of-//table marker.
uint8_t endpoint;
/// This endpoint’s profile ID. See WPAN_PROFILE_* macros //for
some known profile ids
uint16_t profile_id;
/// Function to receive all frames for invalid clusters, or //clusters
with a \c handler.
wpan_ep_handler_fn handler;
/// Structure used to track transactions and conversations on
//ZDO/ZDP and
struct wpan_ep_state_t FAR *ep_state;
/// This endpoint’s device ID.
uint16_t device_id;
//Lower 4 bits are used, upper 4 are reserved and should 0
uint8_t device_version;
const wpan_cluster_table_entry_t *cluster_table;
} wpan_endpoint_table_entry_t;


The stack is a first in Last out FILO concept. It is like we put the books one above the other than picking it from the top one after the other. we will be storing the data to stack by push() operation and data retrieving are done by pop() function.

Example program to create a stack structure:

The stack is normally used in the embedded system to saved the return of function and local variables.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#define MAXSIZE 2
struct Stack
int data;
struct Stack *next;
typedef struct Stack stack;
int count =0;
int main()
return 0;

void push(int d)
stack *newdata;
if(++count > MAXSIZE)
printf(“\n stack is full”);
return 0;
newdata= (stack *)malloc(sizeof(stack));
newdata->data = d;
void pop()
if(–count == -1)
printf(“\n stack is empty”);
return 0;
printf(“\ndata popped is = %d”, top->data);

stack *ptr;
for(ptr=top; ptr; ptr=ptr->next)
printf(“\n%d “, ptr->data);

Queue Structure:

Queue structure is the FIFO concept first in first out data type. It is similar to the queue of a people standing to collect the ticket in front of a counter. Here the first person standing in front of the queue takes the ticket first, and the next person takes the ticket goes on. In Queue data structure also the first data stored will be read back first and the last data stored will be read last.

Here Is The Practical Example Of A Queue

1. Declare A Queue

/* Declare a variable of type xQueueHandle. This is used to store the queue * that is accessed by all three tasks. */
static xQueueHandle gCellMesgQueue;
/* The queue is created to hold a maximum of 3 structures of type TaskMesg. */
gCellMesgQueue = xQueueCreate( 16, sizeof( TaskMesg ) );

2. Update queue when we received a message

And This is how we put message into queue
{ = id; = data;
xStatus = xQueueSendToBackFromISR( gCellMesgQueue, &cellTaskMesg,
&xHigherPriorityTaskWoken );
Once we received message into ISR we can update queue. This activity is asynchronous and whenever message received then we update into queue.

3. Continuously check the available message into a queue and take action

for( ;; )
if( uxQueueMessagesWaiting( gCellMesgQueue ) == 16 )
xStatus = xQueueReceive( gCellMesgQueue, &recvCellTaskMesg, 10
/*portMAX_DELAY*/ );
if( xStatus == pdPASS )
/* Data was successfully received from the queue, print out the received
* value and the source of the value. Based on received message id take
* action*/
//vPrintStringAndNumber( “From Sender 1 = “, );
// for testing we can print message id and check.

Like this based on message id we can take different action.

Linked Lists:

Arrays use the fixed memory and it allocates memory during compile time.
Linked lists are the data structures, the memory for these is allocated during run time means while the program is running.
Here how much data we want that much memory only we are going to allocate.
No memory is wasted. Extra memory is not allocated.
There are two types of linked lists, one is a singly linked list and another is a doubly-linked list.

Singly Linked List:

The singly-linked list means data is stored in the structural element and one pointer is pointing to the next data structure. Like this, the data structure nodes will be added and the size of the list increases.

Data Structures in embedded system, Singly Linked List:

Doubley Linked List:

Data is stored in data structure and it is having two pointers. One pointer pointing to the next element and the other pointer pointing to the previous element. We traverse the list in both directions one is starting to end called forward direction and the other is an end to start called reverse direction.

Doubley linkted list, data structure

Here is a practical example of link-list in embedded system

if (Alarm_list->Counter > 1) {
for(i = 0;i < Alarm_list->Counter-1;i++) {
for(j = 1;j < Alarm_list->Counter;j++) {
if (Alarm_list->plog[j].uStamp > Alarm_list ->blog[i].uStamp) {
u32SortTick = Alarm_list ->blog[i].uStamp;
u32SortCode = Alarm_list ->blog[i].u16EvtCode;
Alarm_list ->plog[i].uStamp = Alarm_list ->blog[j].uStamp;
Alarm_list ->plog[i].u16EvtCode = Alarm_list ->blog[j].u16EvtCode;
Alarm_list ->plog[j].uStamp = u32SortTick;
Alarm_list ->plog[j].u16EvtCode = u32SortCode;

Here Alarm_list is the list, as and when we get some alarm we make new node and update the information into the list, on the other side of code we are continuously monitoring the list, and if an alarm is generated for any of the thread then we process at a centralized location.

Binary Trees:

The data structure is arranged like a tree. The first node is called the root and the next it will connect to elements one is left and the other is right. A node above it is called the parent node and below the above node is called child nodes. The nodes at the end of the tree are called leaves of the tree.

Normally binary tree is used to sorting the data, more frequently is used where continuously data is coming and going, and always we need to present into sorting. Here we have shown many data structures, which are frequently used embedded systems. In this document, we are shown particle and real-time example code which I had written during my professional career. You can consider the following points while choosing data types in your projects.


When similar data type needs to save multiple numbers, like ADC value, temperature data, per minute motor revolution count, etc.


When we need multiple data type need to save and maintain. For example, if we read voltage, current, power factor time, etc. Another example is Task status, last action status, the command sent, the last response received, etc.

Structure Bit filed

In embedded bit filed is widely used, like consider we are updating Bit filed data bitwise also the possibility of data update on full integer. Like
Typedef volatile
US {
uint32_t busy : 1; ///< Busy flag
uint32_t mode : 1; ///< Mode: 0=Slave, 1=Master
uint32_t direction : 1; ///< Direction: 0=Transmitter,
uint32_t general_call : 1; ///< General Call indication
(cleared on start of next Slave operation)
uint32_t arbitration_lost : 1; ///< Master lost arbitration
(cleared on start of next Master operation)
uint32_t bus_error : 1; ///< Bus error detected (cleared
on start of next Master/Slave operation)
uint32_t reserved : 26;

Nested Union and Structure

Consider we have to read data from EEPROM byte by byte serially and saved them such a way that while using we want to use in a group of 4,4 bytes. In this case, we can make data structure which is nested with union and structure, as shown below
structure meter_Data{
unsigned int Voltage[2];
unsinged int Current[2];
char Hour;
char Min;
char Sec;
char Day;
union read_memory{
unsinged char readbytes[20];
structure meter_Data myMeter;
Now union read_memory can be used to read data one by one and while using we can use them as a group of 4 bytes which is an integer or as one byte which is character.

Binary Tree

The binary tree is used when the number of data is entering and leaving, Tree and we need to present always data into sorted order.

Here is a Professional Training Institute which is famous for practical embedded training, we focus on Data structure in practical ways. Our training methods are one on one which leads us to focus on each and every student and give them a complete practical training on C and Data structure. So if you are looking for embedded systems training in Bangalore then come and meet us once to explore in detail. We provide job oriented embedded system training and help our students until their job.


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