ps or similar tools you will only get the amount of memory pages allocated by that process. This number is correct, but:
does not reflect the actual amount of memory used by the application, only the amount of memory reserved for it
can be misleading if pages are shared, for example by several threads or by using dynamically linked libraries
If you really want to know what amount of memory your application actually uses, you need to run it within a profiler. For example, Valgrind can give you insights about the amount of memory used, and, more importantly, about possible memory leaks in your program. The heap profiler tool of Valgrind is called 'massif':
Massif is a heap profiler. It performs detailed heap profiling by taking regular snapshots of a program's heap. It produces a graph showing heap usage over time, including information about which parts of the program are responsible for the most memory allocations. The graph is supplemented by a text or HTML file that includes more information for determining where the most memory is being allocated. Massif runs programs about 20x slower than normal.
As explained in the Valgrind documentation, you need to run the program through Valgrind:
valgrind --tool=massif <executable> <arguments>
Massif writes a dump of memory usage snapshots (e.g.
massif.out.12345). These provide, (1) a timeline of memory usage, (2) for each snapshot, a record of where in your program memory was allocated. A great graphical tool for analyzing these files is massif-visualizer. But I found
ms_print, a simple text-based tool shipped with Valgrind, to be of great help already.
To find memory leaks, use the (default)
memcheck tool of valgrind.
Both processes and threads are independent sequences of execution. The typical difference is that threads (of the same process) run in a shared memory space, while processes run in separate memory spaces.
I'm not sure what "hardware" vs "software" threads you might be referring to. Threads are an operating environment feature, rather than a CPU feature (though the CPU typically has operations that make threads efficient).
Erlang uses the term "process" because it does not expose a shared-memory multiprogramming model. Calling them "threads" would imply that they have shared memory.
How much management do you need? Just fork/exec? IPC? Resource management? Security contexts and process isolation?
I haven't used the Boost.Process library. However, I do know that getting included in Boost is a rather difficult affair. Boost recently accepted a futures library that had already been approved as part of the standard. However, getting into Boost wasn't a forgone conclusion. Another library recently did not make the cut. And although I think the criticisms are valid, I personally would be willing to use that library.