dcsimg
Main » TERM » O »

operating system - OS

The operating system (OS) is the most important program that runs on a computer. Every general-purpose computer must have an operating system to run other programs and applications. Computer operating systems perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the storage drives, and controlling peripheral devices, such as printers. 

For large systems, the operating system has even greater responsibilities and powers. It is like a traffic cop it makes sure that different programs and users running at the same time do not interfere with each other. The operating system is also responsible for security, ensuring that unauthorized users do not access the system.

A Software Platform for Applications

Operating systems provide a software platform on top of which other programs, called application programs, can run. The application programs must be written to run on top of a particular operating system. Your choice of operating system, therefore, determines to a great extent the applications you can run. For PCs, the most popular operating systems are DOS, OS/2, and Windows, but others are available, such as Linux.

Operating System (OS) Diagram
              Image: Operating System Diagram

Classification of Operating systems

  • Multi-user: Allows two or more users to run programs at the same time. Some operating systems permit hundreds or even thousands of concurrent users.
  • Multiprocessing : Supports running a program on more than one CPU.
  • Multitasking : Allows more than one program to run concurrently.
  • Multithreading : Allows different parts of a single program to run concurrently.
  • Real time: Responds to input instantly. General-purpose operating systems, such as DOS and UNIX, are not real-time.
  • User Interaction With the OS

    As a user, you normally interact with the operating system through a set of commands. For example, the DOS operating system contains commands such as COPY and RENAME for copying files and changing the names of files, respectively. The commands are accepted and executed by a part of the operating system called the command processor or command line interpreter. Graphical user interfaces allow you to enter commands by pointing and clicking at objects that appear on the screen.

    Operating System Recommended Reading: The History of Windows Operating Systems (Windows OS) from 1985 to present day.

    Most Popular Desktop Operating Systems

    The three most popular types of operating systems for personal and business computing include Linux, Windows and Mac.

    Windows

    Microsoft Windows is a family of operating systems for personal and business computers. Windows dominates the personal computer world, offering a graphical user interface (GUI), virtual memory management, multitasking, and support for many peripheral devices.

    Mac

    Mac OS is the official name of the Apple Macintosh operating system. Mac OS features a graphical user interface (GUI) that utilizes windows, icons, and all applications that run on a Macintosh computer have a similar user interface.

    Linux

    Linux is a freely distributed open source operating system that runs on a number of hardware platforms. The Linux kernel was developed mainly by Linus Torvalds and it is based on Unix.

    According to Netmarketshare.com, the most used desktop operating system and versions used on PCs in July 2017 are:

    • Windows 7 (48.91%)
    • Windows 10 (27.63%)
    • Windows 8.1 (6.48%)
    • Windows XP (6.10%)
    • Mac OS X 10.12 (3.52%)
    • Linux (2.53%)
    • Windows 8 (1.42%)
    • Mac OS X 10.11 (1.17%)
    • Macc OS X 10.10 (0.76%)

    Desktop Operating System Market Share

    Image Source: Desktop Operating System Market Share (Net Applications.com, July 2017)

    Mobile Operating Systems

    In the same way that a desktop OS controls your desktop or laptop computer, a mobile operating system is the software platform on top of which other programs can run on mobile devices, however, these systems are designed specifically to run on mobile devices such as mobile phones, smartphones, PDAs, tablet computers and other handhelds. The mobile OS is responsible for determining the functions and features available on your device, such as thumb wheel, keyboards, WAP, synchronization with applications, email, text messaging and more. The mobile OS will also determine which third-party applications (mobile apps) can be used on your device.

    Operating System Recommended Reading: Mobile Operating Systems (Mobile OS) Explained.










    LATEST ARTICLES
    Facts about IT & Coding Boot Camps

    The following coding and IT boot camp facts and statistics provide an introduction to the changing trends in education and training programs. Read More »

    Top Cloud Computing Facts

    The following facts and statistics capture the changing landscape of cloud computing and how service providers and customers are keeping up with... Read More »

    Texting & Chat Abbreviations

    From A3 to ZZZ this guide lists 1,500 text message and online chat abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting lingo. Read More »

    STUDY GUIDES
    Java Basics, Part 1

    Java is a high-level programming language. This guide describes the basics of Java, providing an overview of syntax, variables, data types and... Read More »

    Java Basics, Part 2

    This second Study Guide describes the basics of Java, providing an overview of operators, modifiers and control Structures. Read More »

    Network Fundamentals Study Guide

    Networking fundamentals teaches the building blocks of modern network design. Learn different types of networks, concepts, architecture and... Read More »