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The Function of an Operating System - A Brief Guide 04 October, 2020   

An OS (Operating System) is essential system software that manages both computer resources and hardware.  One of the functions of operating systems is that they provide useful services for every computer program. As well-known software, the operating system performs lots of other basic jobs as well.

It includes memory management, file management, handling output and input, process management, controlling man peripheral devices like printers and disk drivers, and much more.  People use different kinds of popular operating systems, including Windows, Linux, OS/400, z/OS, AIX, VMS, and more.

If you want to know further details regarding operating systems, you have to read this post. The following passage shares the functions of operating systems

Characteristics of the operating system 

Complexity, licensing, and software compatibility are three major characteristics of operating systems, which are explained below.

  • Complexity

In fact, operating systems are available in basic editions like 64-bit and 32-bit. When it comes to the 64-bit operating system, it effectively uses RAM, which is briefly known as random access memory. 

If you have a 64-bit central processing unit system, it can either run a 64-bit or 32-bit operating system. Computers with a 32-bit central processing unit can run just the 32-bit operating system.

  • Licensing

You can now find three different OS types: a commercial operating system, a free operating system, and an open-source operating system.

As the open-source OS, Linux allows you to both download as well as modify it. A well-known example of an open-source OS is Ubuntu.

There are a few free operating systems available. But, it is essential to know that the free operating systems cannot let users modify them. Chrome OS is a highly preferred and famous free operating system used by many system users.

Commercial OS is owned by private companies that charge amount for them. Apple macOS and Microsoft Windows operating systems are licensed operating systems, so you need to pay money to use them.

  • Software Compatibility

Every developer makes software that may be incompatible or compatible in various versions within a similar operating system. Still, they are never compatible with other types of operating systems. Every type of operating system has its own and unique software compatibility.

Operating system and its major functions  

There are numerous functions performed by the OS, but this software's primary objective is to bring a better interface between system hardware and user. If you want to know the functions of operating systems, you can look at the following list. 

1.Processor Management

The operating system decides which job gets processor for how much instant. It is performed in every multiprogramming environment. This process is named the process schedule. The operating system performs some activities which are given below.

  • Allocates the CPU to a task
  • De-allocates the process when a job is not required longer 

2.Memory Management

It is a process of managing the main memory or primary memory. The main memory has an array of bytes and words where every byte or word has its distinctive address. Additionally, the main memory offers a quick storage facility that is accessed by the central processing unit.   Here are the functions of operating systems for better memory management as follow:

  • Allocates memory while a job request them
  • De-allocates memory while a job no longer requires it
  • Keep the tracks of a primary memory 

3.File Management

The file systems are commonly organized into different directories of simple usage and navigation. It may include many files and useful directions. The operating systems do many activities for the management of system files.

  • Decides which gets the system resources
  • Keep track of location, information, status, uses, and much more
  • De-allocate the system resources
  • Allocate the system resources 

4.Device Management

The operating system generally manages system communication by using its respective device drivers.  Here are the functions of operating systems for your device management as follow:

  • Keep tracks of every device
  • Decides which task gets a device for exactly how much instant
  • Allocate the system efficiently
  • De-allocates your system  

5.Other Important Functions

Here are a few other essential functions performed by the operating systems:

  • Control over computer performanceOS - records the entire delays between both the response and service from the computer 
  • SecurityLike password and other techniques, operating systems prevents any unauthorized access to your system data and programs 
  • Error detecting support -  It covers the production of error messages, traces, dumps, and other error detecting and debugging aids 
  • Coordination between users and other usersAssignment and coordination of interpreters, compilers, assemblers, and more to different users of systems
  • Job accountingThe operating system keeps track of both resources and time used by different users and jobs.

Operating system types 

It is always helpful to know the different types of operating systems before knowing the functions of operating systems. Here are a few operating system types as follow:

  • Single user and multi-user operating system 

The single-user OS does not have an option to distinguish people but may let several files run simultaneously. The multi-user OS extends the fundamental multi-tasking concept with the facilities which identities resources and processes like disk space. 

The time-sharing OS schedule jobs for better use of a computer and may contain an accounting tool for amount allocation of mass storage, processor time, printing, etc.

  • Single-tasking and multitasking operating system 

It can just run a single program or software in an instant. The multi-tasking system runs many programs at an instant. Time-sharing features do it. These kinds of processes are constantly interrupted in the time slices by the task-scheduling subsystem of an OS.

  • Distributed operating system 

The distributed OS manages a set of unique systems and makes everyone appears as a solo system. The creation of these networked systems is linked to communicate effectively with other systems. It brings better rise to the distributed computing process. 

The distribution computation is carried out successfully on several machines.  If the systems work jointly in the group, they form an excellent distributed network.

  • Templated operating system 

In the operating system, cloud computing, and distributed context, the templating operating system refers to developing a unique virtual machine picture as the guest OS, then saving the OS as the tool for multiple running machines. 

It is a useful technique used in cloud computing management and virtualization and is common in big server warehouses.

  • Real-time operating system

It is a kind of operating system which promises to process data or events by a particular instant in time.  This kind of OS may be multi-tasking or single-tasking, but while multi-tasking processes, it uses specific scheduling algorithms. 

Hence, the deterministic nature of the behavior is easily achieved. When it comes to the event-driven systems, they switch between various tasks based on external events or priorities when time-sharing OS switch jobs based on its clock interrupts.

  • Library operating system 

It is a typical OS that offers different things like networking. It is offered in the libraries' form.  They are composed of configuration code and application to create a unikernel - a single, specialized machine image that addresses space deployed to embedded or cloud environments.

  • Embedded operating system 

They are created uniquely to be employed in embedded computers. These operating systems are developed to work on many small machines such as PDAs. They can work with few resources. 

Along with this, they are extremely compact the very efficient by its design. Many embedded operating systems available, but Minix 3 and Windows CE are common.

In short, the operating system brings you a backup facility when your system does not work properly. Additionally, it breaks the huge program into small programs known as threads for your convenience.

Operating systems IT and Development

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