What is an Operating System?

An operating system is an interface between the user and hardware of a computer, which is why it belongs to the system software category. The applications on your PC, such as any kind of browser or games, require an environment to run effectively.

The operating system design lets it manage all operations of your PC. The OS is basically an integrated set of programs that lets you communicate with your computer.

Since it monitors and controls all programs that are executed inside a PC,  it’s not possible for anyone to operate a device without an OS.

Not only does the operating system manage the performance of computer hardware and software, but it also protects the system by preventing users from interfering with its functions.

A Brief History of the OS

The very first development of an operating system took place back in the 1950s. The reason behind this development was to manage tape storage. Operating systems didn’t start using disks until the late 1960s because, earlier, the primary OS was used by General Motors Research Lab for their IBM 701.

After the first version of Unix in the 1960s, Microsoft developed its first operating system called DOS. The development took place after the purchase of 86-DOS from a company in Seattle. Today, Windows is the most popular operating system on PCs and laptops. Windows OS was built back in 1985 after pairing MS-DOS with a GUI.

Functions of the Operating Systems

  • Security: 

The operating system of a device uses password protection to limit unauthorized access and protect programs and additional user data.

  • Controlling System Performance: 

The operating system monitors how well the overall system is functioning by recording the delays in service requests. It also records system responses to get a complete review of system health. This helps the user locate information that is mandatory to troubleshoot computer problems.

  • Error Detection: 

To save the system from malfunctioning, the OS utilizes its error detection feature to produce messages, dumps, debugging methods, and traces through which it monitors the entire system.

  • Memory Management: 

The main and primary memory of a PC is managed through its operating system. Any program operating inside the system has to primarily load into the main memory of the PC. The OS monitors each memory byte used by different programs. It keeps track of all the allocated memory addresses.

  • Processor Management:

The processing time of each process that occurs within the system and out of those processes which have access to the system processor are all managed by the operating system.

  • File Management:

The operating system organizes files for easy user navigation. The file system comprises

  1. Complete tracking of data storage.
  2. Status of each file within the system.
  3. User access settings.
  • Device Management:

The OS uses drivers to keep track of device communication. For instance, if the PC no longer requires a specific device, it deallocates it.

  • Management of Input/Output Operations: 

The nature of each device connected to the PC, such as a keyboard or a mouse, is different from all other connected devices. Hence, there’s a difference in data between them which is managed by the operating system. These appropriate interfaces keep the system running efficiently.

  • Program Execution: 

All types of programs running within the system are handled by the operating system of a device.

  • Resource Allocation: 

All resources available within the device are monitored by the operating system for the time they remain in use.

  • Data Protection: 

The OS secures all data within the system, preventing any external source from hampering the protected information.

  • Accounting: 

All functionalities performed within a device are recorded by the operating system for potential errors.

Types of Operating Systems

Following are the types of operating systems.

  1. Batch Operating System 

Sometimes processes can be extremely lengthy. To make the job easier, the batch operating system creates batches of processes that have the same requirements. With this operating system, the user of the device and the operating system do not directly interact.

  1. Time-Sharing OS 

Time-sharing operating systems allow multiple users to use a single computer system from different terminals. A good example of a time-sharing operating system is the Central Processing Unit (CPU).

  1. Distributed Operating System

Loosely coupled or distributed systems have various processors communicating to serve multiple users in real-time. These processors provide fast computation due to different locations.

  1. Network Operating System

This operating system operates on a single server and allows the server to manage all networking functionalities of a device.  

  1. Real-Time Operating System 

These operating systems take relatively shorter intervals to process and respond to data. For instance, space and military software systems are generally real-time operating systems due to their time restrictions.

How to Install an Operating System

The version of an operating system is a primary aspect that determines its step for installation. Each OS has unique requirements that don’t go with any other operating system. But below you’ll find the general steps for installing an operating system on your device.

  • Either go to a retail store or visit an online store to purchase the ideal operating system for your computer. Multiple CDs, USBs, or even DVDs can be used for installing the operating system. Although direct downloading is the best way to install an OS.
  • If you’re using a CD or a DVD, change the boot sequence and put the respective CD as the primary booting device to configure your PC for OS installation. The same method applies to the USB.
  • After the computer loads the data within the external device, it will navigate you through the installation process of the operating system.
  • After installing the operating system, you can update settings and install the software you want on your device.

Advantages of Using an OS

  • You get a user-friendly interface that makes navigation and user-device interaction accessible.
  • OS acts as a computing source.
  • It allows resource sharing with other users using external devices such as printers.
  • You can access hardware without coding lines.
  • It secures all the data within the system and allows you to update software to meet your demands.
  • Operating systems have the capacity to multitask.

Now that you know what an operating system is and how to install it, download an operating system for your device and enjoy software updates, easy navigation, and much more.

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