OS: Everything you need to know about operating systems

The OS is responsible for managing all the software on a computer, cell phone or other computing device. It requires continuous updates to correct possible problems and improve the performance of the device.

To run computers, Microsoft has Windows, just as Apple has macOS. When it comes to mobile devices, Google has Android, Apple has iOS and Samsung, One UI. These are operating systems or OS. It is the system that manages the applications within the device. The ones we have just mentioned are part of general purpose and mobile systems. But there are other types of systems that we will discover in this file. But first, we need to know how it works. What is its real role in computing?

Table of contents

OS : what is an operating system ?

The operating system is in fact the program that takes care of the management of all other software programs Of a computer. It can be said to be the backbone of the computer. However, it is not the only type of device that relies on such a system. In general, digital devices such as smartphones, routers and various connected devices run on the OS.

The operating system makes requests for services through a application program interface or API defined. Furthermore, the user interface allows users to interact directly with the operating system. It is, for example, through the OS that the user can access the command line interface (CLI) or the graphical user interface (GUI).

An operating system must be updated continuously. Indeed, developers or users detect bugs as they use an OS. It is also possible that malware breaks the security of the system, making it vulnerable.

What is an operating system for?

The operating system is actually software. It is organized with what is called System SW, such as compilers and editors, and SW Applications to run through the hardware. Nevertheless, let’s discover in detail the different functions of an operating system.

First of all, the OS takes care of the management of peripherals. To do this, it uses the drivers to communicate with them. The operating system also tracks devices by means of the I/O controller before allocating them to processes.

Next, the operating system manages the memory of the device by allocating the main memory and keeping track of it. In addition to this, the OS manages the processor via scheduled monitoring and files by controlling the file system as well as access to such control. It is also important to note that the OS has an authentication that blocks any unauthorized access. As far as the performance of the device is concerned, it is also the operating system that monitors it.

The main features of an OS

In terms of functionality, the OS has three in all: the user interface, launching and managing applications and managing devices via a standardized API. Let’s look at these essential features one by one:

User Interface (UI)

As we have seen above, the user interface serves as a means of of interaction between the OS and the users. This is mandatory from its installation, configuration and even during troubleshooting. There are two types of interfaces: the command line interface (CLI) and the graphical user interface (GUI).

The CLIalso called “terminal mode window” is the interface with which users can operate the traditional keyboard to enter commands. On the other hand, the GUIalso called “office”, accesses a visual interface that users can recognize by icons and symbols. It is on the gestures made by human interface devices like the touchpad, the touchscreen or the mouse that the user relies.

Application management

As soon as it is launched, the OS manages the application. Such a function implies many behaviors such as time sharing Of multiple processes or threads. In this way, the available processors can share the time for the various tasks and manage application interruptions.

It is also the responsibility of the operating system to ensure that there are sufficient memory to run an application and its related data without interference from other processes. Application management also involves the error handling and memory so that one application cannot disrupt others or the OS itself. In addition, the support of API may also be the responsibility of the SO.

Device management

For device management, the OS identifies, configures and provides software with a common access to various devices hardware. Once an application is recognized, the operating system installs the corresponding devices. Therefore, its execution and use do not require any specific knowledge of hardware or peripherals.

This is, for example, the case of a printer. Before using it, the corresponding drivers must be installed so that it does not require any specific code or command to operate. The same applies to graphics devices such as the GPU and storage devices.

OS and software

The majority of the software works not only with the OS of a single vendor such as Windows and macOS, but also indicate with which operating system specific they are compatible. For example, a video editing software supports Windows 10 and Windows 11 without being compatible with previous versions such as Vista and XP.

On the other hand, there are also a number of applications that are compatible with a larger number of operating systems. If we take the previous example, developers can design similar software but this time compatible with macOS. On the other hand, if you use Windows, you also need to know whether it is Windows 32-bit or 64-bit. Some applications work with one and not with the other. This allows you to download the version that matches your operating system.

Finally, note that today you can opt for virtual machines. These work like real computers and can run many operating systems.

The different types of OS

Hardware and user needs vary so much that operating systems must respond appropriately. Thus, there are 5 main types of OS:

General purpose operating system

The general purpose OS is intended to encompass all operating systems that are used to run a large number of software programs on a wide range of hardware. It must also be capable ofrun various tasks or applications simultaneously. In addition, it usually takes care of process and hardware management. Such a system can be installed on a large number of computer models (desktop or laptop).

The most common general purpose operating systems are:

  • Windows: this is Microsoft’s flagship OS.
  • MacOS: this is the exclusive operating system for PCs manufactured by Apple.
  • Unix: a multi-user OS that is both flexible and adaptable.
  • Linux: this is a Unix-like operating system, designed to be more efficient and fast while being low cost or even free.

Mobile operating system

This type of OS is specific to mobile communication devices such as smartphones and tablets. Compared to the general-purpose operating system, this one is of a small size and is more simple. This makes it easier to use. However, the mobile operating system can perform various tasks at the same time.

The best known mobile systems are theAndroid from Google and theiOS from Apple. Samsung also develops its own OS, One UI, designed for the brand’s devices.

Embedded operating system

The embedded operating system is the one found in connected home appliances, ATMs, various point-of-sale terminals as well as aircraft systems. It must be efficient and resilient to cope with the various tasks assigned to it. This type of SO must also be fast and robust because it is not allowed to crash or make mistakes. The OS is usually integrated on a chip that comes with the device.

This system is increasingly developed especially with the rise of IoT. Various connected appliances such as Mr. Smart Cuisine work with such a system.

Network Operating System (NOS)

The NOS is used to ensure communication between devices using a local area network (LAN). In the past, it had its glory days, but today this type of system is outdated by recent operating systems. Microsoft has, for example, incorporated this feature in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019. Nevertheless, it is still encountered in routers, firewalls and switches.

Real-time operating system

The real-time operating system is the system used in large manufacturing firms. It allows the device to interact with the real world within time constraints. The real time OS thus allows to control a sprawling system by sending signals that meet the needs of each branch.

Its specificity lies in the fact that it must be able to react quickly and to follow the evolution of the conditions of the real world. In this way, there is no latency or buffering.

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