Operating system – Types of OS – OS characteristics

An operating system is a software program that manages computer hardware and software resources. The operating system acts as an intermediary between computer hardware and software. OS can be found in all the devices that work like computer, for example desktop PC, smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. The dominant desktop operating system is Microsoft Windows. Second place is taken by Apple’s macOS and Linux is on third place. However Linux is dominant in servers and supercomputers. In smartphones Google’s Android and Second place is taken by apple iOS.

Characteristics of the operating systems

  1. Memory management – Keeping track of the primary memory of the system.
  2. File management – Distributing the resources among different processes.
  3. Device management – Keeping track of all the connected devices.
  4. Processor management – Managing the use of the processor by different applications.
  5. Security – Providing security and preventing unauthorized access to the data.
  6. User interface – Gives an interface to the user to interact with the software.
  7. Networking – OS also manages the networking tasks and prevents user data from bad networks.
  8. Os also acts as an intermediary between the Software hardware interactions.


Types of Operating Systems.

Single and Multitasking OS

As the name suggests Single task OS can perform only one task at a time while a multi task OS can perform multiple tasks at one time by dividing the available processor time to multiple processes. This is done by a task scheduling subsystem of an operating system.

Single and multi-user OS

Same as above, a single user OS allows one user at a time. But a multi-user OS can allows multiple users to use same PC at the same time. This is done by the OS by dividing the system resources for different users as per their needs.Multi user operating system extends the basic concept of multi-tasking with facilities that identify processes and resources, such as disk space, belonging to multiple users, and the system permits multiple users to interact with the system at the same time. Time-sharing operating systems schedule tasks for efficient use of the system and may also include accounting software for cost allocation of processor time, mass storage, printing, and other resources to multiple users.

Distributed OS

A distributed operating system manages a group of computers that need to work together as a single computer. The connection of many computers that work as one computer is called as distributed system. A distributed OS allows many computers to work together and make them look as a single computer.

Embedded Operating System

Embedded OS are the OS for the embedded computer systems. These OS requires very less computer resources. They are very reliable and are able to work efficiently on limited resources like lesser ROM and RAM, however, this costs the functionality of the OS. Embedded OS doesn’t have high level of functionality but they are very efficient and reliable for performing the function they are required for.

Real time Operating System

These types of operating systems are designed for the applications that need to process the data as it comes without any delay in the processing time or the system will fail. The time lag is measured in tenth of the second or may even be measured in the shorter increments of time. These types of systems are either event driven or time sharing. Event driven system schedule the tasks based on their priorities while the time sharing system schedule the tasks based on the clock interrupts. Most real time operating systems uses the pre-emptive scheduling algorithm.

Book on Operating System concepts

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