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Understanding the Linux Kernel, 3rd Edition by Marco Cesati, Daniel P. Bovet

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Destroying Processes

Most processes "die" in the sense that they terminate the execution of the code they were supposed to run. When this occurs, the kernel must be notified so that it can release the resources owned by the process; this includes memory, open files, and any other odds and ends that we will encounter in this book, such as semaphores.

The usual way for a process to terminate is to invoke the exit( ) library function, which releases the resources allocated by the C library, executes each function registered by the programmer, and ends up invoking a system call that evicts the process from the system. The exit( ) library function may be inserted by the programmer explicitly. Additionally, the C compiler always inserts an exit( ) function call right after the last statement of the main( ) function.

Alternatively, the kernel may force a whole thread group to die. This typically occurs when a process in the group has received a signal that it cannot handle or ignore (see Chapter 11) or when an unrecoverable CPU exception has been raised in Kernel Mode while the kernel was running on behalf of the process (see Chapter 4).

Process Termination

In Linux 2.6 there are two system calls that terminate a User Mode application:

  • The exit_group( ) system call, which terminates a full thread group, that is, a whole multithreaded application. The main kernel function that implements this system call is called do_group_exit( ). This is the system call that should be invoked by the ...

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