Characteristics of Operating System And Its Functions
An Operating System (OS) is a programming framework that works as the bridge between your hardware and any software a user wants to run on its machine. It provides the interface and environment for the user to communicate with the computer system.
And on their many functions, we will give you an introduction to the main ones, their features, different types of operating systems, and where to search when we need to choose the best for our hardware components.
Main Operating System Characteristics
It provides the interface in different ways for the user to execute programs, applications, or any kind of software. That could be visual and interactable with the Graphical User Interface (GUI) or used in a Command Line Interface (CLI), where you can write lines of commands to tell the operating system to execute a task.
It ensures the connection between hardware and software, as it is one of the crucial functions that the operating system provides until the system is shut down. Every hardware and software component needs its operating software to coordinate and work optimally.
Resource and Work Management
The operating system processes many tasks at the same time, and it decides how and where to allocate “the power” of your computer system to perform it.
The operating system also will know which software is running and interconnect them. It tracks all the activity, so you can execute your work systematically and be processed when needed. It will work on storage and memory management too for better performance.
An operating system coordinates all the hardware components and every device that you connect to your PC. It provides the Input and Output control (known as I/O controller, too), and communication with them through drivers without which any of the Input and Output instructions couldn’t be executed.
Data and File Management
The operating system provides the structure for you to make changes to files and manipulate them, such as moving them to any specific folders, deleting the file, renaming it, or something more specific. Also, it manages memory space for the system for better resource allocation.
Security and Computer System Health
It will protect your data and personal information. It is the first barrier against hackers, malware, or any malicious threat that could infect your computer systems. But it not only takes care of external problems.
The operating system also controls how well the CPU performs all the activities. We can see how busy the CPU is operating, how fast our hard drives are retrieving data, and many things so we can monitor if everything is working properly internally and how it handles multiple tasks.
Kernel is a software program that provides communication between the computer hardware and software. It is the heart of every operating system and is responsible for making it work. Every operating system has one and the most known could be Linux Kernel, which was on the latest updates on Windows 10 in 2020.
It manages all the resources that any accessing software element requires from the hardware. It acts as an intermediary for executing any program, creating and establishing the parameters of when and how it will open up, avoiding overloading, useless resources, and blocking any unauthorized access that could otherwise reach the core of your system. It also provides access to any of our peripheral devices and interacts with their corresponding software.
The License, Compatibility, and Structure of the Operating Systems
We checked the functions and some of the internal body to get key knowledge of our machine. But we shouldn’t miss other features of the main operating system characteristics: Is your computer system convenient for that OS? Will it work with your hardware? And how could you get it?
There are three kinds of OS on this topic.
The first one is the Open Source operating system, which anyone can download for free and even modify its functionality as you like. A perfect example of this is Linux with Ubuntu. The only thing one shouldn’t do is create a new operating system from an Open Source and commercialize it. You can modify it freely and even let access for people to do more things on top of your work and improve it.
The second one is Free Operating Systems. The main difference between Open Source System is that you can’t modify them. They are free to download and install, but users can’t touch them beyond that. An example of this kind is Chrome OS from Google.
The third and last one is Commercial Operating Systems. This comes from private companies that will charge you for their use, buying a proper license. This is where the most famous ones come: Windows (from Microsoft) followed by mac OS (Apple).
Complexity and Compatibility
Not every software and program is compatible with every operating system. Some may, but many more are just compatible with a specific OS. As many iPhone apps run only with iOS and are not available on Android, the same happens on PC. So, if you are looking to work with any specific software, you should check before if it runs on that operating system.
As for Complexity, we are talking about its architecture: 32-Bit and 64-Bit. A 32-Bit operating system processes, as the name implies, 32 bits of data on execution. It will only run 32-bit programs and is limited to 3.2 gigabytes of RAM. These were available from Windows XP to Windows 8 and Linux in all versions.
A 64-Bit OS is commonly used in modern operating systems. It processes 64 bits of data simultaneously. A 64-Bit application software can only work on 64-Bit OS, but 32-Bit programs can run there too. It also allows 17 billion gigabytes of RAM at maximum. This became available in systems like Windows XP Professional, Vista and 7 going forward, and also on Mac OS X.
Types of Operating Systems
This will be suitable for more specific situations as there will be some operating systems that will work better on a business model or on an industrial environment rather than the most commonly known computer operating systems. Let’s take a look at the details and characteristics of these ones.
Multitasking System / Time-sharing OS
Most of the well-known operating systems fall under this category. This operating system allows the user to run other programs simultaneously, like printing documents without the need to close MS Office or even the same program twice, as two or more Excel documents.
The micro processor only runs one, but the system can switch from one to another in milliseconds and gives the perspective to run multiple tasks at once. And if you run multi processors, each processor distributes the tasks to improve the performance. Also, many users can log on and perform tasks independently.
This operating system doesn’t interact with the computer directly. Many users prepare the same type of job on an offline device, and there is an Operator that sorts the jobs with similar needs. This is used on Payroll systems or Bank Statements programming, as their processes are lengthy, so all the jobs are accumulated on Batch and go together.
This is for a group of computers sharing space connected in the same environment through a communication network. As one of their main characteristics, it allows remote access to the files of any of the other computers connected.
There is one operating system above all of these machines that are independent and can work with each other, managing their resources more efficiently. Of course, if the OS fails, the whole system will be down and require a more complex setup.
The operating system is executing on a separate terminal as a server, where all the devices are connected. Not only a computer but also could be printers, mobile phones, etc. The server hosts the services while the clients use these computer applications. It provides the capability to manage various computer applications, security, data, files, memory, and other software networking functions.
Like the Distributed OS, it is costly, and if the server goes down, it will drag the rest.
These are specially designed for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
They also provide multitasking capabilities, but it doesn’t allow various users to work on the same device.
One of the main features is that the response time between input commands and action is very small, as responding close to real-time is the key. This operating system is used for military, scientific research, air traffic control, etc. Other characteristics are that it can run limited tasks, is very complex, and uses many resources. Still, it’s extremely fast regarding multitasking, focuses on the running applications and less on the queue, it is error-free and gets the most of all the hardware devices and system.
An Operating System is absolutely necessary for any machine to work. Without it, you can’t do anything. We even look at OS that are suitable for more specific tasks. But you are looking for an OS for your PC, you can’t go wrong with Windows, as every software is compatible with their OS, it is easy to use and is updated frequently, with their latest edition, Windows 11, released in 2021.