In computing, an executable (file) causes a computer "to perform indicated tasks according to encoded instructions, as opposed to a file that only contains data. Files that contain instructions for an interpreter or virtual machine may be considered executables, but are more specifically called scripts or bytecode. Executables are also called "binaries" in contrast to the program's source code.

Interaction with operating systems

Some operating systems designate executable files by filename extension (such as .exe) or noted alongside the file in its metadata (such as by marking an "execute" permission in Unix-like operating systems). Most also check that the file has a valid executable file format to safeguard against random bit sequences from inadvertently being run as instructions. Modern operating systems retain control over the computer's resources, necessitating that individual programs make system calls to access privileged resources. Since each operating system family features its own system call architecture, executables are generally tied to specific operating systems. However, there many tools available that makes executables made for one operating system work on another one. Examples of these include Cygwin and Wine

See also


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