Operating System: What It Is, Functions, and Types

In this tutorial, we will learn what is an operating system, its basic functions, and its types. By Amit Shukla Last updated : May 05, 2023

What is an Operating System?

An operating system (OS) is the interface between user and computer hardware. It manages the hardware attached to the computer system. An operating system is a system software. Operating system perform various task regarding computer system like memory management,controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers,handling input and output,file management etc.

Some popular operating systems are Linux, windows operating system, Android, Macintosh, chrome OS, iOS etc.

Functions of Operating System

functions of an OS (operating system)

The following are the functions of an operating system:

1. Memory Management

It manages the allocation of memory of system for different processes. It manages both the primary memory and secondary memory.

2. Processor Management

It manages all the running processes in computer system. A process is simply a program that is run by a user on computer system.

3. Security Management

It ensures the security of computer system from the various threats and viruses attacks. An operating system uses various techniques such as authentication, authorization, cryptography etc. for ensuring security of compute system.

4. Device Management

This function of operating system is used to manage different devices that are connected with the computer system. An operating system interact with hardware device through specified device drivers.

5. File Management

An operating system manages the files and directories of computer system. A file can be defined as a collection of information or data that is store in the memory of computer system. An operating system allow us to create, delete, save, edit files in a computer system.

Types of operating system:

Many different types of operating systems are involved till date. The operating systems are improved in terms of their capabilities. The modern days operating systems allows multiple user to carry out multiple tasks simultaneously. Based on their capabilities and the types of application supported, the operating systems can be divided into following six major categories.

  1. Batch processing operating systems
  2. Multi user operating systems
  3. Multitasking operating systems
  4. Real time operating systems
  5. Multi processors operating systems
  6. Embedded operating systems

1. Batch processing operating system

The batch processing operating system is capable of executing one job at a time. In batch processing operating system the jobs are combined in form of batch and then these batches are given to system as an input data. The job in batches are processed on first com first serve basis. After execution of one job operating system fetches another job from input data. There is no need of human interaction before fetching the next job after completion of any job.

2. Multi user operating system

The multi user operating system uses to use a system by multiple users. In other word multi user operating system allows a number of users to work simultaneously on a single computer system. These types of operating systems are specially designed for the multi user system.

Examples of multi user operating systems includes Unix, Linux, Windows 2000 and VM - 386.

3. Multitasking operating system

The multitasking operating system allow a user to give multitask at a same time on a single computer system multitasking operating system are also known as multiprocessing operating system and multiprogramming operating system. The first multitasking operating system is created in 1960s. The number of tasks processed simultaneously by this operating system is depending upon speed of CPU, the capacity of memory and size of programs.

Examples of multitasking operating systems are Linux, Unix, windows 2000, windows XP, windows 10.

4. Real time operating system

The real time operating system is similar as multitasking operating system. However, these operating systems are specially designed to handle real time applications. Real time applications are those applications which have to execute within a specific period of time. Therefore, time is major constraint for these applications. The different examples of real time applications are robots, machine learning etc.

There are mainly two types of real time operating system. Hard real time operating system and soft real time operating system.

Examples of real time operating systems are MTOS, Lynx, RTX etc.

5. Multiprocessor operating system

The multiprocessor operating system allows the computer system to use more than one CPU in a single system for executing more than one or multiple processes at a time. A computer system having multiple CPU process faster than a system which contains a single CPU.

Examples of multiprocessor operating systems are Linux, Unix, windows 2000 etc.

6. Embedded operating system

The embedded operating system is similar to real time operating system. This operating system is installed on an embedded computer system which is primary used to perform computational tasks in electronic devices.

Examples of embedded operating systems are palm operating system, windows CE.

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