Understanding Operating Systems (OS) and Types of Operating System

Understanding Different Types of Operating System

We have covered here details pertaining to the topic “Understanding Operating Systems” what is an operating system (OS), types of operating systems (OS), Why we need OS, founder of OS, Objective of operating systems, the function of OS, how to install OS, etc.

What is an Operating System?

An Operating System (OS) is the most important software that serves as an interface between end-user and computer hardware.

To run other programs every machine must have at least one OS.

An operating system is the core collection of software that keeps everything together on a computer.

They handle everything from your mouse and keyboard to the Wi-Fi router, storage tools, and monitor.

To put it another way, an operating system manages the device’s input and output.

There is also a lot of functionality involved in the operating system – like common system services, libraries, and application programming interfaces (APIs) that developers can use to write programs running on the operating system.

Why do we need an Operating System (OS)?

The operating system sits between the programs that you are running and the hardware, using the drivers as the interface between the two.

If an application needs to print something, for example, it hands the function over to the operating system.

The operating system sends the instructions to the printer, transmitting the right signals using the printer drivers.

The program that’s printing doesn’t have to think about what kind of printer you have or how it works.

This is done by the OS. A computer is useless without an operating system in it.

What is a Kernel?

The major part of an operating system is a kernel.

It serves as a bridge between applications and the data processing performed at the hardware level, using inter-process communication and device calls.

Low-level functions such as disk management, task management, and memory management are the responsibility of the kernel.

Different types of operating systems with examples

Operating systems are typically pre-loaded into any device you buy.

Most people use the operating system that comes with their device but operating systems can be upgraded or even changed.

Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, and Linux are the three most popular operating systems used by personal computers.

Understanding Operating Systems

Current operating systems are using a graphical user interface, called GUI.

A GUI allows you to use your mouse to select icons, buttons, and menus, and with a variation of graphics and text, it will be clearly shown on the screen.

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft developed the Mid-1980s Windows operating system.

Many different versions of Windows have been available, but the latest ones are Windows 10 (released in 2015), Windows 8 (2012), Windows 7 (2009), and Windows Vista (2007).

Windows comes pre-loaded on most new PCs, helping to make it the world’s most common operating system.


The MacOS is a line of Apple-created operating systems. It comes preloaded on all Macintosh, or Macs computers.

They include Mojave (released in 2018), High Sierra (2017), and Sierra (2016).


Linux Operating System

Linux is a family of open-source operating systems which means anyone around the world can modify and share them.

This differs from proprietary software such as Windows, which can be changed only by the corporation that owns it.

The benefits of Linux are that it’s free, so you can pick from several different distributions.


Unix is a multiuser operating system designed to be versatile and adaptable.

Unix was initially developed in the 1970s as one of the first C-language operating systems.

Objectives of an Operating System (OS)

Following are some of the objectives of the Operating system –

  • Convenience: With an operating system, the computer is easy to use.
  • Efficiency: An OS makes effective use of computer device resources.
  • Ability to evolve: An OS should be designed so as to enable the successful development, testing, and implementation, without interfering with the operation, of new system functions.

The Operating system in Mobile devices

Mobile devices such as phones, tablets and MP3 players vary from desktop and laptop computers, because they run operating systems specifically designed for mobile devices.

Mobile operating systems include Apple iOS and Google Android.

Mobile device operating systems are usually not as fully featured as those designed for desktop and laptop computers, so they cannot run the same kind of applications.

You can also do other things with them, though, such as watching movies, surfing the Internet, controlling your calendar and playing games.

Founder of the Operating System (OS)

In 1964, IBM invented the first operating system to run the mainframe computer. The was named as IBM Systems/360.

Functions of the Operating system

Every operating system provides the below functionalities. They are –

  • Security – The OS uses password protection to secure user knowledge and related techniques. Unauthorized access to applications and user data is often stopped.
  • System performance is controlled – Monitors system safety overall in order to enhance efficiency. This can improve efficiency by providing critical knowledge required to overcome problems.
  • Coordination – OS coordinates with interpreters, assemblers, compilers and other software in the system.
  • Managing the Memory – Primary memory or main memory is handled by the operating system. The main memory consists of a wide range of bytes or words, with a certain address assigned to each byte or word. This can be easily accessed by the CPU. It should be loaded first in the main memory to execute a program.

The following operations for memory management are carried out by an operating system:

  • Primary memory is tracked by OS ie, which user programs use which bytes of memory ie. The memory addresses that are already used, and the memory addresses of the memory that have not been used yet.
  • The OS determines in multi-programming, the order in which process access to the memory is given, and for how long.
  • It allocates the memory to a process when it is needed and manages to de-allocate the memory when the process is done.

Processor Management

In a multi-programming environment, the OS defines the order in which processes have access to the processor, and how much time each process has to process. This operating system feature is called process scheduling.

The following Processor Control operations are carried out by an operating system.

  • Tracks the status of the processes. The program performing this function is known as the traffic controller.
  • Allocates and de-allocates processor, when no more process is required.

Device management

An OS handles the communication with devices through their respective drivers.

It executes the following device-management tasks:-

  • All the devices that are connected to the system would be tracked.
  • It identifies the program that is responsible for each device known as the input/output controller.
  • Decides which process should have access to a given device and for how long.
  • Allocates the devices quickly and effectively. De-allocates when they no longer need to be connected.

File management

For easy or quick navigation and usage, a file system is organized into folders. Such directories can include other directories, as well as other files.

The following file management operations are carried out by an Operating System.

  • It keeps track of where information is stored, the user access settings and the status of each file and more. These facilities are known collectively as the file system.
  • An operating system can manage to divide the program on computers that provide parallel processing, so it is running on more than one processor at a time.

How do I install the Operating system?

The steps that are taken to install an operating system, such as Linux or Microsoft Windows, depend on the version of the operating system you are installing.

Each version has various steps and options specific to that operating system.

Some of the guidelines to install an operating system on your computer are as follows: –

  • Purchase the operating system that you want to install. You can either purchase the OS from a retail store or an online store.
  • When the computer is configured to boot appropriately(either through CD/DVD/USB Device), the computer will load the installation software for the operating system and direct you through the installation process. When you configure basic settings, such as date and time, user account name and if you want to allow automatic operating system updates, you will be asked questions. Go through the steps of installation, answer all the questions and pick the choices you want.
  • The computer will load the operating system after the operating system has been installed. You can then install the software programs you want on your computer, and upgrade any settings you want.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Operating system

Some of the advantages of the Operating system are –

  • The Operating System provides the user-hardware interface.
  • It is easy to use because it has a graphical user interface, so novice users can quickly use it to operate the computer.
  • The Operating system allows us to access hardware without having to write programs.
  • An Operating system can perform several tasks at a time. This also helps users to perform multiple tasks at the same time.
  • Updating the Operating system is easy.
  • It’s secure which means windows have the protection that detects and prevents any kind of unsafe files.
  • We can install any software and run it.
  • Every system component is independent so that a system failure does not affect other system components
  • Open-source operating systems like LINUX are free of cost and we can run it on our computers.

Some of the disadvantages of Operating system are –

  • Some operating systems are expensive compared to the open-source OS such as Linux. Although users are allowed to use a free OS, they are usually a little hard to run than others. In addition, operating systems with GUI applications like Microsoft Windows and other features are costly to pay
  • If the central system fails, the entire system will be affected and the machine will not operate.
  • Operating systems are very complex, and the language used to create these operating systems is not simple and well established. Besides, if there is a problem with OS users can’t grasp it explicitly, so it can’t be easily solved.
  • Threats to the operating systems are greater as they are vulnerable to such attacks from viruses. Most users download malicious software packages into their devices that interrupt and slow down the running of the OS.

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