About Operating Systems

 Computer Operating System (OS). What is an Operating System?

"Operating system not found”. What is a computer operating system? You may wonder… Just after you built your computer and powered it on. Computers need of an operating system in order to work. When you build a custom computer you have to select and buy also an OS. Except that you already own one from a previous purchase or it just happened to have an OS installation CD or DVD in your home.

When you buy your computer part by part from different sellers, obviously you don’t have the possibility to get your computer already built and with a fresh installation of an OS. These are tasks that you have to perform and I will show you how. But let’s see first what an operating system is and what it does.
The computer operating system is installed in the hard drive. The operating system’s location is used every time the computer boots up and loads the necessary OS files to memory. When loading is completed the computer is ready for use.

What an Operating System Does ?

A computer operating system is just a program. It is not so simple though. The operating system is responsible to use the hardware components of the computer so to create a working environment for the user. This working environment is a user interface where the user can give tasks to the computer. These tasks may be specific instructions, programs, services and more.
To put it simpler the working environment of the computer OS is what you see when you power on your PC after the OS loading screen. If your OS is-Windows then the working environment is the desktop screen.
The OS manages the computer resources and shares them to the running tasks and services. When the computer operating system starts it actually loads hundreds of tasks and services. These are loaded to the computer memory and stay there as long as the OS is running. All these tasks are used for supporting the user intentions.
An OS is considered good when it can manage the computer resources efficiently. Windows XP is considered the best operating system from Microsoft up to now because of its efficient memory management. From the other hand Windows Vista was a total failure from the same perspective. That’s why Windows 7 came up so early after Vista. Windows 7 have a decent memory management and they are very promising.
Computer OS is a ground for running other programs. Every program is designed to run to a specific OS or more computer operating systems of the same company though. For example some programs may be compatible with some Windows series but not compatible with MAC OS or Linux operating systems.
The user’s running programs cooperate with the operating system. They ask for resources and the OS manages to cover their demand.
If you run too many programs then the available computer resources decrease dramatically and the computer will be sluggish, even crash in some cases. As the computer OS try to serve all the programs it runs out of resources (e.g. memory) being unable to support all these tasks closing them violently.
The computer OS try also to prevent unstable situations by deciding to perform specific tasks without the user’s consent in some cases. It even crashes the whole system with a Blue Screen of Death to prevent hardware damage.
Let’s see now some popular operating systems:

Microsoft Operating Systems

Microsoft is the most popular developer of computer operating systems. It has the greater share of the pie as their operating systems are greatly promoted throughout the world. This fact combined with their user-friendliness makes them the first choice of every new user.
Microsoft has many times criticized for adopting monopoly tactics and releasing incomplete operating systems that are vulnerable and unstable. This is the reason of the daily release of security patches, updates and service packs. Some of the most popular Microsoft operating systems are listed below:

•        Ms-DOS
•        Windows 95
•        Windows 98
•        Windows XP
•        Windows 2000
•        Windows Vista
•        Windows 7

Linux Operating Systems

Linux is an open source operating system that it was developed by Linus Torvalds and developers from all over the world. It began as a hobby but now it is a very strong opponent to the commercial companies. Linux gains popularity every year and as a result hundreds of Linux editions have come out from many developers.
Although, Linux distributions are not so user-friendly as Windows or MAC, they are free. This is because Linux is an open source operating system. Another advantage of an open source OS is that every program that is designed for this computer OS is also free. Some popular Linux distributions for the mainstream users are the following:
•        Debian GNU/Linux
•        Gentoo Linux
•        Mandriva
•        SUSE Linux
•        Fedora
•        Ubuntu Linux

Apple or MAC Operating Systems

Apple wanted to differentiate from Microsoft’s approach to computer OS and it was the first company that designed a fully graphical interface for their computer operating systems. When MS-DOS had just a command line waiting the user to start writing, the MAC operating system offered only a graphical environment without a command line support. Apple designed two families of MAC operating systems, the MAC OS and the MAC OS X.
Apple’s operating systems are characterized from the easiness of use and the beautiful visuals. They offer a very nice and easy to use environment. Some versions of MAC OS X are listed below:
•             10  “Cheetah”
•             10.1 “Puma”
•             10.2 “Jaguar”
•             10.3 “Panther”
•             10.4 “Tiger”
•             10.5 “Leopard”
•             10.6 “Snow Leopard”
We saw what a computer operating system is; we described what it does and how it works and we saw some of the most popular computer operating systems. Now that you know some basics it is now time to install your operating system.

Posted by Gurneet Singh on 12:54


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