Saturday, 16 June 2012

Definition of Operating System

Definition:
An Operating System is a computer program that manages the resources of a computer. It accepts keyboard or mouse inputs from users and displays the results of the actions and allows the user to run applications, or communicate with other computers via networked connections.
An Operating System is a software program or set of programs that mediate access between physical devices (such as a keyboard, mouse, monitor, disk drive or network connection) and application programs (such as a word processor, World-Wide Web browser or electronic mail client).
Some characteristics of an Operating System are:
  • Whether multiple programs can run on it simultaneously: multi-tasking
  • Whether it can take advantage of multiple processors: multi-processing
  • Whether multiple users can run programs on it simultaneously: multi-user
  • Whether it can reliably prevent application programs from directly accessing hardware devices: protected
  • Whether it has built-in support for graphics.
  • Whether it has built-in support for networks.
Some popular Operating System's are:
  • Unix: multi-tasking, multi-processing, multi-user, protected, with built-in support for networking but not graphics.
  • Windows NT: multi-tasking, multi-processing, single-user, protected, with built-in support for networking and graphics.
  • Windows 95/98: multi-tasking, multi-processing, single-user, unprotected, with built-in support for networking and graphics.
  • Windows 3.x: single-tasking, single-processing, single-user, unprotected, with built-in support for graphics but not networking.
  • DOS: single-tasking, single-processing, single-user, unprotected with no built-in support for graphics or networking.
  • NetWare: multi-tasking, multi-processing, single-user, unprotected, with built-in support for networking but not graphics.

Types of Operating Systems

There are several types of operating systems, with Windows, Linux and Macintosh suites being the most widely used. Here is an overview on each system:
Windows: Windows is the popular Microsoft brand preferred by most personal users. This system has come a long way from version 1.0 all the way up to the new Vista and soon to be released Windows 7. Although Windows has made strides in regard to security, it has a reputation for being one of the most vulnerable systems.
Unix/Linux: The Unix operating system has been around for years, and it is well known for its stability. Unix is often used more as a server than a workstation. Linux was based on the Unix system, with the source code being a part of GNU open-source project. Both systems are very secure yet far more complex than Windows.
Macintosh: Recent versions of the Macintosh operating system, including the Mac OS X, follow the secure architecture of Unix. Systems developed by Apple are efficient and easy to use, but can only function on Apple branded hardware.
GUI - Short for Graphical User Interface, a GUI Operating System contains graphics and icons and is commonly navigated by using a computer mouse. See the GUI definition for a complete definition. Below are some examples of GUI Operating Systems.
System 7.x
Windows 98
Windows CE
Multi-user - A multi-user operating system allows for multiple users to use the same computer at the same time and different times. See the multi-user definition for a complete definition for a complete definition. Below are some examples of multi-user operating systems.
Linux
Unix
Windows 2000
Multiprocessing - An operating system capable of supporting and utilizing more than one computer processor. Below are some examples of multiprocessing operating systems.
Linux
Unix
Windows 2000
Multitasking - An operating system that is capable of allowing multiple software processes to run at the same time. Below are some examples of multitasking operating systems.
Unix
Windows 2000
Multithreading - Operating systems that allow different parts of a software program to run concurrently. Operating systems that would fall into this category are:
Linux
Unix
Windows 2000
Troubleshooting
Common questions and answers to operating systems in general can be found on the below operating system question and answers. All other questions relating to an operating system in particular can be found through the operating system page.
Linux / Variants
MacOSMS-DOS
IBM OS/2 Warp
Unix / Variants
Windows CE
Windows 3.x
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows 98 SE
Windows ME
Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Windows 7

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