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22.3.2 Realtime Scheduling

Whenever two processes with the same absolute priority are ready to run, the kernel has a decision to make, because only one can run at a time. If the processes have absolute priority 0, the kernel makes this decision as described in Traditional Scheduling. Otherwise, the decision is as described in this section.

If two processes are ready to run but have different absolute priorities, the decision is much simpler, and is described in Absolute Priority.

Each process has a scheduling policy. For processes with absolute priority other than zero, there are two available:

  1. First Come First Served
  2. Round Robin

The most sensible case is where all the processes with a certain absolute priority have the same scheduling policy. We’ll discuss that first.

In Round Robin, processes share the CPU, each one running for a small quantum of time (“time slice”) and then yielding to another in a circular fashion. Of course, only processes that are ready to run and have the same absolute priority are in this circle.

In First Come First Served, the process that has been waiting the longest to run gets the CPU, and it keeps it until it voluntarily relinquishes the CPU, runs out of things to do (blocks), or gets preempted by a higher priority process.

First Come First Served, along with maximal absolute priority and careful control of interrupts and page faults, is the one to use when a process absolutely, positively has to run at full CPU speed or not at all.

Judicious use of sched_yield function invocations by processes with First Come First Served scheduling policy forms a good compromise between Round Robin and First Come First Served.

To understand how scheduling works when processes of different scheduling policies occupy the same absolute priority, you have to know the nitty gritty details of how processes enter and exit the ready to run list.

In both cases, the ready to run list is organized as a true queue, where a process gets pushed onto the tail when it becomes ready to run and is popped off the head when the scheduler decides to run it. Note that ready to run and running are two mutually exclusive states. When the scheduler runs a process, that process is no longer ready to run and no longer in the ready to run list. When the process stops running, it may go back to being ready to run again.

The only difference between a process that is assigned the Round Robin scheduling policy and a process that is assigned First Come First Serve is that in the former case, the process is automatically booted off the CPU after a certain amount of time. When that happens, the process goes back to being ready to run, which means it enters the queue at the tail. The time quantum we’re talking about is small. Really small. This is not your father’s timesharing. For example, with the Linux kernel, the round robin time slice is a thousand times shorter than its typical time slice for traditional scheduling.

A process begins life with the same scheduling policy as its parent process. Functions described in Basic Scheduling Functions can change it.

Only a privileged process can set the scheduling policy of a process that has absolute priority higher than 0.

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