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Multiprogramming Operating System

Author Aditya Singh
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A Multiprogramming operating system is an operating system that supports the running of numerous programs simultaneously on a single processor machine. If one program waits for an input/ output transfer, the other programs are ready to utilize the CPU. 

Imagine that the currently executing process is involved in I/O. (which, by definition, does not need the CPU to be accomplished). The OS may then halt that process and transfer control to another in-memory program that is prepared to run (i.e., context switching).   This prevents the system from wasting CPU time waiting for the I/O work to be finished. A running process continues to operate until either it releases the CPU voluntarily or until it blocks for an I/O operation. Therefore, multiprogramming's main objective is to keep the CPU busy for as long as there are running processes. In a multiprogramming operating system, the CPU will not be kept idle, which means the CPU will always be busy.

multiprogramming operating system

In this article, we'll explore the Multiprogramming Operating System in detail. 

So, let's get started:  

What is the Multiprogramming Operating System?

Multiprogramming means having multiple active processes in the main memory. A multiprogramming operating system runs multiple programs at the same time on a single processor. Tasks generally require CPU time and I/O time. So, if the running process performs I/O or some other event that does not require a CPU, then instead of sitting idle, the CPU makes a context switch and picks another task, and this idea will continue.


  • Windows, Linux distributions, macOS, and other desktop operating systems are examples of multiprogramming operating systems. These are modern operating systems that make use of a variety of multiprogramming principles. A user can perform many jobs simultaneously on a system running one of these (or more) operating systems. Many games, for example, are intended to run on a single CPU core.
  • Other examples are Windows OS, Microcomputers such as ESQview, XENIX, and MP/M.
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Features of Multiprogramming Operating System

A multiprogramming operating system efficiently manages and executes multiple programs simultaneously. 

Some features of a multiprogramming operating system are:

  1. A multiprogramming OS handles the creation, execution and termination of processes through a process management component. It allows loading multiple processes for concurrent execution.
  2. A multiprogramming OS ensures efficient process memory allocation and deallocation.
  3. A multiprogramming OS implements CPU scheduling algorithms to allocate CPU time to various processes.
  4. A multiprogramming OS is also responsible for Input/Output Device Management.
  5. A multiprogramming OS uses shared memory and message-passing methods for InterProcess Communication (IPC).

How do Multiprogramming Operating Systems Work?

In the multiprogramming operating system, multiple users can complete their tasks simultaneously and save some main memory. While a program performs I/O operations, the CPU may distribute time to other applications in idle mode.

Multiple programs may share CPU time while one program waits for an I/O transfer and another is constantly prepared to use the processor. Although not all tasks are executed simultaneously, multiple jobs may operate on the processor simultaneously, with parts of other processes being completed first, followed by another segment, and so on. To run all the programs, the operating system must ensure CPU resources are adequately allocated to each program and reallocated as resources become available. Context switching, a method the OS uses to accomplish this, ensures that a program's state is preserved in memory and easily accessible as the OS transitions between applications and CPU assignments.

A multiprogramming operating system's overall purpose is to keep the CPU busy until all the tasks in the CPU get executed entirely. Thus, A computer with a single processor may run several programs simultaneously, and the CPU is never idle.

Types of Multiprogramming Operating System

There are two types of multiprogramming operating systems

  • Multitasking Operating Systems
  • Multiuser Operating System
Types of multiprogramming operating system

Multitasking Operating System

Modern computers use the word "multitasking." A multiprogramming operating system that allows numerous applications to execute simultaneously supports multitasking as a logical extension. In this method, a CPU and other shared processing resources are shared by several tasks, also called processes.

Operating systems that support multitasking better manage hard disks and virtual memory. Due to the shorter wait times, the processing time is also effectively utilized.

Let's say you are using the internet to download a file. You may now use the computer for other things without waiting for the file to download fully. One process cannot modify the data of another process in the primary memory. Only the assigned space for each process' utilization may be used. Other programs using the computer that may produce mistakes are unaffected by them. For instance, your data in Microsoft Word is not impacted if Google Chrome crashes.

Each user is free to run their own programs independently. Smartphone apps support multitasking and can run many instances at once.

Multitasking Operating System

Multiuser Operating System

A computer operating system that enables several users to connect to a single system running the same operating system is known as the multiuser operating system.

Some of the examples are Linux, Unix, Windows 2000, Ubuntu, Mac OS, etc., 

Using a multi-user operating system, we can run many programs simultaneously and carry out multiple tasks simultaneously. The primary reason for creating a multi-user operating system is to be used for batch processing and time-sharing on mainframe systems. Large corporations, the public sector, colleges and universities, and servers running Windows Server or Ubuntu Server often use this multi-user operating system nowadays. These servers allow several users to access the hardware, kernel, and operating system simultaneously.

Also, We can exchange files or data, as well as various peripherals like hard drives and printers. Each user receives a brief period of CPU time for this. 

Multiuser Operating System

Advantages of Multiprogramming Operating System

The multiprogramming operating system has many advantages. Some are listed below:

  • It aids in the computer's overall job throughput optimization.
  • Processor Utilization is maximized such that unless there are no tasks to accomplish, the processor is rarely idle and is frequently in use.
  • Jobs that require a short amount of CPU time are completed faster than those that demand a big amount of CPU time.
  • Multiple users can use the computer system with a multiprogramming operating system.
  • Multiprogramming operating systems excel at coping with applications that need the execution of many tasks.
  • It may aid in reducing turnaround time for short-duration tasks.

Disadvantages of Multiprogramming Operating System

The multiprogramming operating system has many disadvantages. Some are listed below:

  • It's quite complex.
  • CPU scheduling is required.
  • The most effective memory management is required.
  • Due to the complexity of schedule handling, multiprogramming is not an easy task.
  • External fragmentation can occur. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you mean by multiprocessing?

Multiprocessing refers to the ability of a system to use multiple processing units (CPUs) simultaneously to perform multiple tasks or processes at the same time, enhancing computing efficiency and performance, especially for complex, resource-intensive operations.

Is multiprogramming OS non-preemptive?

Multiprogramming OS can be either preemptive or non-preemptive, depending on how it schedules tasks. Non-preemptive scheduling allows a process to run to completion or until it blocks, while preemptive scheduling can interrupt processes to switch between them.

What is a multiprogramming vs multitasking operating system?

A multiprogramming operating system keeps multiple programs in the main memory, and the CPU switches between them which looks like simultaneous execution but is not! On the other hand, A multitasking operating system can perform multiple tasks concurrently like I/O operations, CPU operations etc.


In this article, we have discussed Multiprogramming Operating System. We also discussed the types of Multiprogramming Operating system and their working. And finally, in the end, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of Multiprogramming operating systems.

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