Windows 7 forum


Components of an operating system and how they work

by madmurphy123 / September 23, 2013 9:15 PM PDT

Hi guys,

I don't know where else to go and i know a lot of you are very educated on this subject.

Basically i'm trying to do an assignment and have been asked to describe the process from clicking print on a document to it being printed out, describing the process of each element of the operating system and what it does to make this happen. i do not need to include how the printer works but i have listed below the key elements i need to describe and what they do when i click print. I'm really stuck on this and any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

These are the layers i need to use in the explanation

Memory Manager
File Manager
I/O manager


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All Answers

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Re: assignment
by Kees_B Forum moderator / September 23, 2013 9:27 PM PDT

That's a nice assignment.

Maybe all information you need is in the course material (books, readers. powerpoints, links to useful material on the web, references to scientific publications), maybe the purpose of the assignment is to have to looking for information yourself (which makes it a more difficult assignment, of course).

Where's the output spooler in your list of components? That's rather crucial, unless you do a direct print.


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Operating system and how they print
by madmurphy123 / September 23, 2013 9:33 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: assignment


Thanks for the quick reply, we dont really have a lot of information on this in general. We have been given a few links to pages on the net and i have been searching up this information for 4 days now. This is a small section of the whole assignment so i can do thw work myself and research in order to answer the question but in the classroom we have not learnt this and as i said i really cant find any information about this specific area on the internet which is why im asking on here. Even some guidance as to a location to read about this on the net will be better than nothing. I am not asking for someone to do my assignment its just a specific technical question i am completely not knowledgable to be able to answer.


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Re: OS
by Kees_B Forum moderator / September 23, 2013 10:01 PM PDT

I don't see any specific question in your posts. However, if after 4 days of work you still have difficulty answering a part of an assignment, why not discuss this with your professor. I'm sure he has helpful tips for you.
Just one tip: the OS is layered, so better make your description layered also. might be useful for the long term. Doesn't the school have a library with books about the subject? That's so much better than google, if you don't know what you search for,


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Reply to OS layer process
by madmurphy123 / September 23, 2013 11:36 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: OS

The specific question i posted was from the user clicking the print button, what process does each layer of the operating system go through, to the printer printing off the document, not including how the printer works.

I am just asking for some guidance on this area, i thought a forums it was ok to do this, but i guess by the witty remarks and comments i dont think this is the forum to do this. I just thought people with greater knowledge on this subject would be able to help me. sorry for taking up your time and the link you posted was for a $166 book which as a student i cant afford and dont know the contents to have the confidence to purchase that book knowing it would answer the question.

I have discussed this with my tutor, and the fact this is an assignment means i have to try and do it without the tutor's help. But as i said, sorry for wasting your time.

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As you can imagine, this changes from OS to OS
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 24, 2013 1:01 AM PDT

For DOS we didn't have a memory manager and yet could click on a print option.
For Linux/Unix we would render the content to the printer's language and on Windows/Apple this all changes to get a WYSIWYG so what happens changes again.

Learning how this all works in detail can't fit in this small space. And I've seen students explode when others can't condense it to less than 5 minutes.

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thanks for reply
by madmurphy123 / September 24, 2013 1:44 AM PDT


Thanks for the legitimate reply, its much appreciated.

I understand what you mean, i have been reading all sorts on the internet. I only need to answer it in pretty brief terms though, just explaining what each layer does in the correct order, so for example i would take it when you hit print, the kernel will allocate the correct memory and CPU power to perform the task? or something like that and also it is primarily based on a windows operating system i believe.

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What OS does matter.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 24, 2013 1:52 AM PDT
In reply to: thanks for reply

And the Windows Kernal does not allocate memory but the application requests memory. That's backwards from what I think you wrote.

And the Windows Kernal does not allocate CPU power. For almost all versions of Windows it has been "cooperative multitasking" so no allocation again.

Finally it's quite deep how the page is rendered. There are calls made to the printer driver for the printer metrics and to the video display to render a bitmap that will eventually be submitted to the print spool system.

As I wrote above, a lot of stuff and none fits in this small space.

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great stuff
by madmurphy123 / September 24, 2013 1:59 AM PDT
In reply to: What OS does matter.

ahh ok, yer sorry I've only just touched on this subject in little detail in college and it very difficult to try and explain this in a paragraph or two. The problem i'm having is sorting out the information on the internet, whats right, whats wrong, and which technical information applies to this question.
I'm just struggling to find a basic explanation on the internet, but thank you for you input again, hopefully someone will be able to shorten all the gory details into a brief explanation for me, or at least where i can find the information.

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"where I can find the information"
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 24, 2013 2:07 AM PDT
In reply to: great stuff

That's no mystery at all and I see folk wrote that above. The problem as I see it is that there is so much to digest that a person new to all this would flame everyone for not explaining it at their current level.

Windows has roots in the old Digital VMS OS and you can see how it varies from VMS in table 1 at

Now imagine the folk that didn't know this history and would feel lost as they thought it came from Microsoft as a new OS?

Or if they came from an UNIX (now more commonly but incorrectly called Linux) where it works quite a bit differently.

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by madmurphy123 / September 24, 2013 2:15 AM PDT


I had a quick browse at that link, its way too technical for the college work i'm doing, i'm literally told just to show what each layer does, a very simple explanation rather than the really in depth stuff people are linking to, i think its basically just asking to say where each part comes into the printing of a document, so where the firmware comes into play, the memory manager etc, i don't think going further than that is the kind of stage i'm at with college.

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Have you tried the school library?
by wpgwpg / September 24, 2013 2:20 AM PDT
In reply to: reply

You're asking for a school level answer in a highly technical business & home oriented forum. We don't do homework here. Sorry. Plain

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by madmurphy123 / September 24, 2013 2:28 AM PDT

I am sorry then for posting it here, but i believed someone who knows the complete technical side of a subject such as this, surely has the capability to condense the information to a "school level" answer and it be correct. That is the issue i'm having, is knowing what is correct and what isn't, for example i could put up the answer i tried to logically guess and people could use it as a guide, or try and steer me in the right direction if i'm wrong. Or if not, maybe a link to a forum that could answer this would be much appreciated.

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My background includes
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 24, 2013 2:35 AM PDT
In reply to: sorry

I was on a 3 man team that created a embedded CPU. So from my point of view I do have all the background to know how it works. But I would not say this can be condensed to less than say a 500 page book. It appears you think it can be condensed to a few paragraphs but I've yet to find such a condensed answer.

Unless we simplify it to say that the user clicks the print button and the OS uses it's memory manager, kernel and print spooler along with the apps to render the page to the printer's needs determined by the printer driver and the resulting image is then sent to the printer via an i/o manager.

But that's what we said up top!

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Since to print we don't need any OS at all.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 24, 2013 2:29 AM PDT
In reply to: reply

You have to wonder why this question was asked. I write software for embedded things and we have no OS yet we can print a ticket or page without all the things you listed.

Each area is a discussion on its own. I know that the kernel architecture class is one semester or more.

Time to hit the library it seems.

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by madmurphy123 / September 24, 2013 2:34 AM PDT

See the issue i think i'm trying to communicate is that i don't need to know that much, i'm on a BTEC lvl 3 IT course, and this topic is 2 weeks long. I think what you guys are heading towards is more university level, i just wondered if anyone had a very brief answer as to where each element fits into the equation.

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(NT) I supplied the one line answer above.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 24, 2013 2:39 AM PDT
In reply to: OS
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Re: BTEC level 3
by Kees_B Forum moderator / September 24, 2013 8:08 AM PDT
In reply to: OS

I read about the course in (just one of the schools offering it, certainly not the full specification).

There I read: "You will also have to buy recommended books to be able to complete your assignments."
So, if this part of the course is about OS architecture, I expect that either they recommend a book about it or provide you with materials or readers. It's too difficult and technical and big a subject (as you noticed already) to learn from Google.

I happen to teach IT (system design and programming) at a university. I'm sure we hardly teach these subjects in the bachelor phase. You don't need them to design a game or an administrative system, and you certainly don't need them to program and test those applications. We consider the OS as a black box that you can use via a GUI or a command prompt. So we concentrate on things like requirements, analysis, design, databases, testing, implementation, support and several programming languages under Windows or Linux. But who cares to know what happens inside the OS if there's a documented print-API and the machine has enough RAM and disk space?

It's 10 years ago, at least, that the OS architecture course disappeared from the curriculum, and I never was involved with it.
So I'm rather sure that if I would have to make this assignment (which isn't really clear, because you don't tell how much text the answer should be, and how much schema's and diagrams are expected) your professor would give me 2.5 out of 5 points at most, because I miss the essence of quite a few things.

Best of luck with your assignment. Don't make it too difficult for yourself.


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