Last updated on November 12th, 2018
An operating system is the core software program that runs on hardware and makes it usable for the user to interact with the hardware so that they can send commands (input) and receive results (output). Therefore providing a consistent environment for other software to execute commands. It acts as a center through which the system hardware, other software’s, and the user can communicate.
The operating system can be categorized into four types:
- Single-user & multi-tasking: This system allows multiple programs to run at the same time as and is commonly used in today’s desktop and laptop computers. A good example is the UNIX operating system
- Multi-user operating system: This is a system that allows different users to take advantage of computer resources simultaneously.
- Single-user, single task: Found in personal computers this system only one user can access the system at a time.
- Real-time operating system (RTOS): This system uses very little user-interface capability since the system will be a “sealed box” when delivered for use thus assurances a certain capability within a specified time limitation and it’s designed to handle tasks. Basically, these systems are used to control devices, scientific instruments, and industrial systems.
The following are functions of operating systems:
- Hardware management: Operating systems control all peripheral and hardware devices attached, controlling operations and interactions.
- Loading and Execution: Operating systems provide facility to load programs in the memory and then execute them applicable.
- Data management: The operating system manages access, storage and retrieving of data on the computer’s hard drive. It is thus responsible for keeping and tracking the location of every piece of every file on the disk.
- System health monitoring: Operating system tracks the system’s hardware and provides a detailed analysis of the system.
- Process management: Through the central processing unit (CPU) the operating system performs tasks. It enables the booting i.e. the starting or re-starting the computer thus enabling an environment for a computer to boot to desktop after power on self.
- Allocation of system resources: The operating system allocates resources to which a process requires giving depending on order, priority and processing power it needs.
- Network Communication: The facilitation of communication within a network, therefore, enabling devices to interact, share or run within a network through the enabling of the connected Network cards.
- Data security: Operating system protects data stored from modification or deletion through different threats or unauthorized access. It also protects computer system resources such as a disk, software programs, central processing unit, memory, and most importantly data stored in the computer system
- Providing interface: The operations system controls how one inputs data and executables, how information is displayed on a monitor using interfaces. The operating systems interfaces are as below:
- Graphical-line interface: This is an interface that employs graphics and functions as the point of contact reference a computer and its user.
- Command-line interface: In this interface, a user responds to a visual prompt by typing in a command on a specified line which is related to an intended course of action.