Processes are the primitive units for allocation of system
resources. Each process has its own address space and (usually) one
thread of control. A process executes a program; you can have multiple
processes executing the same program, but each process has its own copy
of the program within its own address space and executes it
independently of the other copies.
Processes are organized hierarchically. Each process has a parent
process which explicitly arranged to create it. The processes created
by a given parent are called its child processes. A child
inherits many of its attributes from the parent process.
This chapter describes how a program can create, terminate, and control
child processes. Actually, there are three distinct operations
involved: creating a new child process, causing the new process to
execute a program, and coordinating the completion of the child process
with the original program.
The system function provides a simple, portable mechanism for
running another program; it does all three steps automatically. If you
need more control over the details of how this is done, you can use the
primitive functions to do each step individually instead.