What is an Operating System?

An operating system is software that sits between a user and the computer’s hardware, allowing two-way communication. Its fundamental function is to provide users with a reliable environment to run the software.

Undoubtedly, the computer’s operating system plays a significant part in connecting the two most essential components of a computer system.

In this post, we will learn about operating systems, the benefits of operating systems, and the drawbacks of operating systems.

Before proceeding, it is crucial to have a basic knowledge of operating systems, after which we will discuss their benefits and drawbacks.

What is an Operating System?

An operating system (OS) is a piece of software that runs permanently in the background of a computer and facilitates the interaction between the hardware and software. Without an operating system, computer software and hardware would be worthless. 

The operating system facilitates interaction with a computer even if you do not understand its native language. Without this, it is impossible for a user to access data or do other tasks on a computer or mobile device.

The software applications interact with the operating system by requesting services through a predefined application program interface or API. Furthermore, users may connect directly with the operating system via a user interface, such as a command-line interface (CLI) or a graphical user interface (UI) (GUI).

In this article lets us know more about the operating system, its important features, and advantages that may help businesses.

How does the Operating System Work? 

The operating system is responsible for a wide variety of operations and responsibilities; some examples are included below:

  • It processes data from and goes to physical devices, including disk drives, printers, and modems.
  • Configure all of your computer’s internal hardware as well as all of its accessories. In some instances, the operating system may need the support of extra device drivers.
  • Numerous programs may run in parallel, and the OS chooses which programs to execute and in what sequence. It also enables the time to give to each program before moving on to the next.
  • Provides the current state of the operation and any faults that might have occurred to the various applications or interactive users and a system administrator, if necessary.
  • It is capable of delegating the operation of tasks, such as printing. Therefore, the application that originated the job is removed from the responsibility of doing this activity.
  • An OS can determine how to partition a program so it can be executed in parallel on computers with parallel processing capabilities.

Why should you use an operating system?

Both software and programmers may greatly benefit from using an operating system. Every program without an OS must implement its user interface and create extensive code to manage the computer’s low-level hardware and software.

With so many kinds of hardware, writing programs that work on any of them would be impossible. Many simple operations can transfer to system software, such as transmitting data packets or displaying text on an output device.

Due to the system software, programs may interface with the hardware consistently and repeatedly without being vulnerable to hardware specifics.

Types of operating systems

Every computer you purchase will likely have an operating system installed. However, if you’re unhappy with the operating system that came with your computer, you can always install anything else.

Here are the most common operating systems for personal computers and devices: 

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows is the best operating system and widely used on desktop and laptop computers. Windows 11 is the most current version of Windows to be made available to consumers. The operating system is used by computers and devices compatible with IBM.

macOS

Apple’s series of proprietary operating systems are referred to as macOS. It is automatically installed on all Macintosh computers, also known as Macs. 

Linux

Linux is a group of operating systems that everyone is free to use, change, and share. Compared to other software like Windows, which its developer can only update, it allows for more flexibility and innovation. Linux’s numerous benefits include its zero cost and a wide variety of available editions.

Android

Android is an operating system that can see inside mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Since many smartphones run some flavor of the Android operating system, it is safe to say that Android is the most common computer software in use worldwide.

Mobile operating systems

A mobile operating system is a software that runs on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This system is also often referred to as a portable operating system.

What are the Features of an Operating System?

Following are the essential features of the Operating System;

Process Management

The operating system efficiently handles the execution of the programs so that there is no overlapping or delay in the process. The management of the system helps the operating system to build and remove processes, and it also offers a method for communication and synchronization among many processes.

Storage and Memory Management

Operating systems deal with memory management and multitasking in virtual memory. It needs memory management to allocate and free up memory for running processes as and when necessary, preventing the occurrence of memory, exhaustion, and the subsequent triggering of warnings that system software or disk is full.

That’s why it’s wise to check up on your storage devices and refresh your memory frequently. The system uses many storage levels, including primary, secondary, and cache. In the event of an error, the running process may resort to the cached pseudocode and data. The OS can manage resource allocation and keep the machine from being overloaded.

Security management

The operating system protects the information and private data contained in the system. It blocks the system by providing the user with strongly approved keys, protecting it from malware infection.

The operating system provides a secure firewall, which also serves as supervisor mode. Operating Systems (OS) handle and correct mistakes as quickly and efficiently as feasible.

Handling I/O Operations

Input/output device management is a crucial part of every OS. It includes the likes of the mouse, keyboards, touchpads, disc drives, display adapters, USB devices, Bit-mapped displays, LEDs, A/D converters, On/Off switches, network connections, audio I/O, printers, and more. An I/O system’s job is to take an application’s I/O request, forward it to the relevant hardware, and then provide the device’s response.

Resource Allocation

The Operating System distributes available resources as needed by installed programs. After a program has run its course, any remaining funds are reallocated to new initiatives with higher priorities.

The term “resources” refers to the limited quantities of hardware or software that an operating system can use. In multi-user or multitasking environments, resources like main memory, CPU cycles, and file storage need to partition across the many users or tasks.

Device Management

An operating system manages the device and the printer by allowing proper flow. Disk management keeps tabs on all the devices attached to the computer and the number of system resources used by each user and task. It’s one of the things the I/O controller is in charge of.

Handling errors

In the operating system, errors can occur at any time and location. A CPU, I/O device, or memory hardware bug can cause problems. An operating system’s critical error-handling activities are as follows:

  1. OS continually looks for problems such as power failure, connection failure, lack of paper in printers, etc.
  2. In the worst-case situation, the application’s error handling procedures compel the user to log out and the system to shut down.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Operating System

Advantages

User Friendly 

OS have been more user-friendly with the introduction of the GUI (Graphical User Interface). It facilitates the user’s comprehension, communication, and interaction with the system.

Multitasking 

An operating system to help you manage your time is useful when you need to do a lot at once.

Versatile 

An OS is a versatile piece of software since it can install on several distinct computers simultaneously.

Enables the operation of the software

Users of contemporary operating systems may run the software of their choosing without learning how to develop the program. Users must enter instructions to complete their work or launch applications manually than operating systems such as DOS or UNIX.

Blocks unauthorized access

Since the OS requires a password to get access, this prevents unwanted access and, as a result, protects user data.

Resource Sharing 

OS assists in managing resources like RAM, ROM, hard drives, and so on. In addition, it assists users in carrying out direct tasks such as mathematical computations, the processing of data, and a great many other activities.

Easy to Upgrade

The OS is readily upgradeable, satisfying the needs of modern computer users. Regardless of the nature of the problem, the programmers are eager to remedy it, and a new version is produced that can be downloaded quickly and simply to bring the OS up to date.

Disadvantages

High Price 

All other operating systems are seen as expensive unless they are open source. The closed-source operating system already has a lot of valuable features built in. i.e., Operating system for Microsoft Windows.

Training is required.

Despite being simple to use, the user still has to have computer and OS skills and understanding in case of a crash or troubleshooting.

Difficult to install 

OS installation involves several stages and configurations. Therefore, only those familiar with computers and operating systems should do it.

Virus Threats

Due to consumers downloading viruses from the internet without enough information, operating systems are particularly vulnerable to attacks.

Intricacy

The language used to develop operating systems is neither simple nor well-defined, and the systems themselves are generally difficult to understand. A simple user cannot understand the language, making it tough to solve problems.

Authenticity

One of the most important features of every computer is its OS. A computer is merely a bunch of parts without an OS. It means that the whole computer is vulnerable to any problems with the operating system.

Non-Transferable

Operating systems can not switch out for another one. It indicates that the OS cannot be copied onto a hard drive and transferred to a different machine. It is necessary to remove the OS from the prior computer.

Decentralization

Having storage memory divided into little pieces that go unused is annoying. And if additional space is needed for a process or job, it may be allotted, leading to a lack of storage.

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