Without its software, a computer is basically a useless lump of metal. With its software, a computer can store, process, and retrieve information; play music and videos; send e-mail, search the Internet; and engage in many other valuable activities to earn its keep. Computer software can be divided roughly into two kinds: system pro
grams, which manage the operation of the computer itself, and application programs, which perform the actual work the user wants. The most fundamental system program is the operating system, whose job is to control all the computer's resources and provide a base upon which the application programs can be written. Operating systems are the topic of this book. In particular, an operating system called MINIX 3 is used as a model, to illustrate design principles and the realities of implementing a design.