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6. Processes > Processes and Programs

Processes and Programs

A process is an instance of an executing program. In this section, we elaborate on this definition and clarify the distinction between a program and a process.

A program is a file containing a range of information that describes how to construct a process at run time. This information includes the following:

  • Binary format identification: Each program file includes metainformation describing the format of the executable file. This enables the kernel to interpret the remaining information in the file. Historically, two widely used formats for UNIX executable files were the original a.out (“assembler output”) format and the later, more sophisticated COFF (Common Object File Format). Nowadays, most UNIX implementations (including Linux) employ the Executable and Linking Format (ELF), which provides a number of advantages over the older formats.


  

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