Explain the concept of dynamic linking and its advantages in os design?

Question: Explain the concept of dynamic linking and its advantages in os design?

Dynamic linking is a technique that allows a program to use external libraries or modules at runtime, instead of embedding them in the executable file at compile time. This has several advantages for the design of operating systems, such as:

- Reducing memory and disk space usage: With dynamic linking, the same library can be shared by multiple programs without having to copy it into each executable file. This saves space in the file system and in the virtual memory, as the library is loaded only once and mapped into the address space of each program that needs it.

- Increasing flexibility and modularity: With dynamic linking, the program can use different versions of a library or module without requiring recompilation or relinking. This allows for updating or replacing libraries without affecting the program's functionality or compatibility. It also enables the use of software plugins that can extend the program's capabilities at runtime.

- Simplifying development and maintenance: With dynamic linking, the program can be divided into smaller and independent modules that can be developed, tested and debugged separately. This makes the code more readable, reusable and maintainable. It also reduces the complexity and size of the executable file, which can improve performance and reliability.

Dynamic linking is implemented by using a special type of library called a shared library or a dynamic-link library (DLL). A shared library contains position-independent code (PIC) that can run at any address in memory. The linker does not copy the code of the shared library into the executable file, but instead records its dependency on it. When the program is loaded or executed, a loader or a link editor resolves the external references to the symbols (variables and functions) defined in the shared library by locating and loading it into memory.

Some examples of operating systems that use dynamic linking are Linux, Windows and macOS. Linux uses shared libraries with the extension .so (shared object), Windows uses DLLs with the extension .dll (dynamic-link library), and macOS uses dylibs with the extension .dylib (dynamic library).

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