prasannatsm prasannatsm - 2 months ago 5x
Linux Question

Does linux schedule a process or a thread?

After reading this SO question got few doubts please help in understanding.

Scheduling involves deciding when to run a process and for what quantum of time.
1. Does linux kernel schedule a thread or a process? As process and thread are not differentiated inside kernel how a scheduler treats them?
2. How quantum for each thread is decided?
a. If a quantum of time (say 100us) is decided for a process is that getting shared between all the threads of the process? or
b. A quantum for each thread is decided by the scheduler?

Note: Questions 1 and 2 are related and may look the same but just wanted to be clear on how things are working posted them both here.


The Linux scheduler (on recent Linux kernels, e.g. 3.0 at least) is scheduling schedulable tasks or simply tasks.

A task may be :

  • a single-threaded process (e.g. created by fork without any thread library)
  • any thread inside a multi-threaded process (including its main thread), in particular Posix threads (pthreads)
  • kernel tasks, which are started internally in the kernel and stay in kernel land (e.g. kworker, nfsiod, kjournald , kauditd, kswapd etc etc...)

In other words, threads inside application multi-threaded processes are scheduled like non-threaded -i.e. single threaded- processes.

The low-level clone(2) syscall creates user-land schedulable tasks (and can be used both for creating fork-ed process or for implementation of thread libraries, like pthread). Unless you are a low-level thread library implementor, you don't want to use clone directly.

AFAIK, for multi-threaded processes, the kernel is (almost) not scheduling the process, but each individual thread inside (including the main thread).

Actually, there is some notion of thread groups and affinity in the scheduling, but I don't know them well

These days, processors have generally more than one core, and each core is running a task (at some given instant) so you do have several tasks running in parallel.

CPU quantum times are given to tasks, not to processes