Threading Issues in OS and their Solutions {Complete Guide}!!

Hello Learner! Today, from this article you will get to learn about some remarkable threading issues in OS and their solutions with ease. This is ultimate post over the Internet; at the end of this article, you will definitely educate about most essential Threading Issues in OS without getting any hindrance.

What are Threading Issues in OS?

Here, we are going to reveal some essential threading issues in operating system whenever you are in a multithreading environment. As well as, we will also cover about how these issues can be fixed to get the retaining benefits of the multithreaded programming environment.

Threading Issues in OS

System Calls fork() and exec ()

The fork() and exec() system calls are two fundamental and powerful operations in operating systems, especially in Unix based systems. They are often used together to create new processes and replace their memory images with different programs.

Here’s a brief introduction about each system call, including:


The fork() system call is used to make a new one process that is an properly copy (duplicate) of the calling process that is known as the parent process. After the fork() call, two processes are made: the parent process and the newly made child process.

Also Read: What is Thread in OS? Types of Threads in OS (Operating System)!!

Both processes continue their execution from the same point in the code but have different process IDs (PIDs). The child process receives a return value of 0 from the fork() call, while the parent process receives the child’s PID as the return value.

Example usage:

#include <stdio.h>

#include <sys/types.h>

#include <unistd.h>

int main() {

    pid_t pid = fork();

    if (pid == 0) {

        // Child process

        printf(“Child process: PID = %d\n”, getpid());

    } else if (pid > 0) {

        // Parent process

        printf(“Parent process: Child PID = %d\n”, pid);

    } else {

        // Fork failed

        perror(“fork() failed”);


    return 0;



The exec() system call is used to replace the current process’s memory image with a new program. It loads and executes a new executable file into the current process’s address space, effectively starting a different program while preserving the same process ID.

The exec() call is often used after a successful fork() to change the child process’s program.

Example usage:

#include <stdio.h>

#include <unistd.h>

int main() {

    char *args[] = {“/bin/ls”, “-l”, NULL};

    execv(args[0], args);

    // If execv() returns, it means an error occurred

    perror(“execv() failed”);

    return 1;


In this example, the execv() call replaces the child process’s memory image with the “ls” command, and the child process will now execute the “ls” command instead of continuing with the previous code after the fork().

Combining fork() and exec() allows a process to create new processes and run different programs, making them fundamental building blocks for process management in many operating systems.

Thread Cancellation

Thread cancellation is a mechanism in multithreading environments that allows one thread to terminate another thread prematurely. It provides a way to stop the execution of a thread before it completes its normal execution path. There are two main types of thread cancellation:

Asynchronous Cancellation:

In asynchronous cancellation, one thread terminates another immediately without any cooperation from the target thread. The target thread is stopped at any point in its execution, and its resources may not be cleaned up properly, leading to potential resource leaks. Asynchronous cancellation should be used with caution, as it can leave the application in an inconsistent state.

Deferred Cancellation:

In which, the decision to cancel a thread is created by one thread; but the actual termination occurs only whenever the target thread arrives the cancellation point. A cancellation point is a predefined location in the thread’s code where it checks for cancellation requests and voluntarily terminates if one has been made.

This approach allows the target thread to clean up its resources and maintain a more consistent state before termination. Thread cancellation can be achieved through various mechanisms, depending on the programming language and threading library being used.

Some common ways to implement thread cancellation are:

  • Using thread-specific cancellation flags or variables that the target thread checks periodically to see if it should cancel itself.
  • Employing operating system-specific cancellation mechanisms provided by the threading library, such as pthread_cancel() in POSIX threads.

When using thread cancellation, it’s essential to handle potential race conditions and resource management carefully.

As a result, it is recommended to design applications with thread cancellation in mind and ensure proper synchronization and cleanup mechanisms are in place to handle thread termination gracefully.

Signal Handling

Signal handling in multithreaded environments refer some complexities as compared to signal handling in single-threaded processes. In a multithreaded application, every thread has its own execution context; and signals can be directed to a certain thread otherwise delivered to all threads within the process.

Also Read: What is Process in OS? Types of Process in Operating System!!

Handling signals in threads involves careful consideration of synchronization and the potential impact on the entire process. Here are some of key points regarding signal handling in threads as following them:

Signal Delivery to Threads: Signals can be delivered to a certain thread otherwise to all threads in the process. POSIX threads (pthread) allow you to set the signal disposition for each individual thread within a process. A signal can be directed to a specific thread using pthread_kill() function, passing the target thread’s thread ID (TID). Alternatively, signals can be sent to the whole process using kill() or raise() functions.

Default Signal Handling: Threads can choose to inherit the signal disposition from the process level or use the default action for specific signals if no handler is registered. Inherited signal disposition means that each thread will use the same signal handlers as the process.

Signal Safety: Signal handlers should be written with care, as they run asynchronously and interrupt the thread’s regular execution. Signal handlers should be designed to be signal-safe, avoiding unsafe functions and operations that could cause data corruption or deadlocks.

Thread Cancellation and Signals: If a thread is canceled, it can use signal handling to perform cleanup operations before termination. However, the cancellation mechanism itself can be implemented using signals, and there is a possibility of signal conflicts or unintended handling of signals during thread cancellation.

Signal Delivery Guarantees: Signal delivery to threads may not be perfectly deterministic, as it depends on the thread scheduling and OS implementation. Signals may be delivered to a particular thread at any point during its execution, potentially causing race conditions or unexpected behavior.

Thread Pool

A thread pool is a software design pattern used to manage and reuse a fixed number of threads efficiently in multithreaded applications. It provides a pool of worker threads ready to execute tasks concurrently, rather than creating and destroying threads for each task. The thread pool is managed by a thread pool manager, which assigns tasks to available threads.

Once the task is completed, then a thread returns to the pool, and getting to become available for the further task. This mechanism reduces the overhead of creating and destroying threads, resulting in improved performance and reduced resource consumption.

Thread pools offer several benefits, including efficient resource management, scalability, load balancing, and enhanced responsiveness. They help prevent resource overutilization by controlling the number of active threads, making it easier to scale applications based on workload and system capacity.

Load balancing ensures that tasks are evenly distributed among threads, preventing thread starvation and ensuring optimal utilization of resources. Thread pools are commonly used in server applications, web servers, database systems, and other scenarios with a large number of short-lived tasks or tasks with varying execution times.

However, developers must carefully configure the thread pool size, manage synchronization, and handle long-running or blocking tasks to avoid potential issues like thread starvation, deadlocks, or resource oversubscription.

Thread Specific Data

Thread-specific data (TSD) is also known as the thread-local storage (TLS); it is a mechanism that allows each thread in a multithreaded application to have its own master copy of a variable. TSD is useful when a variable’s value should be specific to each thread, preventing data interference and race conditions.

However, working with thread-specific data can introduce challenges:

Memory Overhead: Each thread has its own copy of the TSD variable, leading to increased memory consumption. If a large amount of data is marked as thread-specific, it can significantly impact the application’s memory usage.

Initialization and Cleanup: Proper initialization and cleanup of thread-specific data become crucial. If not handled correctly, it may lead to resource leaks or inconsistent data states.

Data Sharing: While thread-specific data avoids data interference between threads, it also hinders direct communication between threads using shared data.

Portability: Implementing thread-specific data might have platform-specific nuances and can be less portable across different operating systems and thread libraries.

Debugging Complexity: Debugging issues related to thread-specific data can be challenging, as the variables’ values may vary between threads, making it harder to identify the source of the problem.

Thread Termination: When a thread is terminated, its thread-specific data must be appropriately cleaned up to avoid resource leaks or dangling pointers.

To mitigate TSD issues, developers should carefully identify which variables truly need to be thread-specific and ensure proper initialization and clean-up routines. Libraries or language features that encapsulate TSD functionality can help with portability and simplify management.

Thorough testing and debugging practices are essential to identify and resolve any thread-specific data-related problems effectively.

Scheduler Activation

Scheduler activation is a technique used to improve the performance of multithreaded applications in certain operating systems, particularly those with user-level threading (ULT) libraries.

The concept of scheduler activation is closely associated with the execution model known as the “two-level” or “M:1” threading model, where multiple user-level threads are managed by a single kernel-level thread.

In a system using scheduler activation, the ULT library collaborates with the operating system’s kernel to handle thread management efficiently. When a user-level thread blocks on a blocking system call or I/O operation, instead of remaining passive, the ULT library triggers a scheduler activation.

This means that the ULT library requests the kernel to create or activate another kernel-level thread to ensure that there are sufficient available threads to continue executing other user-level threads in the ULT library’s pool.

The purpose of scheduler activation is to avoid thread-level blocking and make better use of available processing resources. By employing scheduler activation, ULT libraries can efficiently handle I/O-bound tasks, improve system responsiveness, and enhance overall throughput in multithreaded applications.

However, it requires coordination and support between the ULT library and the operating system’s kernel, making its effectiveness highly dependent on the specific threading model and implementation used in the system.

Final Thoughts

Now, we can hope that you have been fully aware about various threading issues in OS and their solutions with ease. If this article is valuable for you, then please share it along with your friends, family members or relatives over social media platforms like as Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, Twitter, and more.

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