As we saw in Chapter 9, 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.
Disks provide the bulk of secondary storage on which a file system is maintained. They have two characteristics that make them a convenient medium for storing multiple files:
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.
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 only moving the read–write heads and waiting for the disk to rotate.
We discuss ...