Computer Operating Systems – Basic Functions

We all know the various types of computer operating systems such as Linux, Windows including Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows 10. Each operating system differs from each other and these systems are made to be efficient in providing the best in user experience.

An operating system has three main functions, it manages the computer’s resources, such as the central processing unit, memory, disk drives, and printers; it establishes a user interface, and executes and provides services for applications software. For the layman, the operating system provides the convenience to run a machine at their will without knowing the underlying coded language that the computer understands. Below are some of the basic features of an OS –

  • Computer operating systems must execute programs first loading it into memory and then running it.
  • Computer operating systems perform the required input output operations requested by the user.
  • It should be able to allow the user to create files, move files or copy files. In short it should allow the user to alter a file as per their requirement.
  • The OS has to make sure that processes have enough resources to communicate with each other or with processes of another computer. Sufficient arrangements should be made by the OS to ensure that information is shared between different processes as and when required.
  • Detecting errors is also one of the jobs that an OS has to carry out. It has to check error that may occur in any part of the system such as input output devices, in the hard disk or any external device connected to the system. In addition to checking the error it should be equipped to deal with the error and rectify it.
  • If multiple users share a computer system then the OS should allow different users to store their data in different parts of the system without allowing access to other users of the system. Password protection is one such function which should be provided by an OS.

Other Operating System Functions

The operating system provides several other functions including:

  • System tools (programs) used to monitor computer performance, debug problems, or maintain parts of the system.
  • A set of libraries or functions which programs may use to perform specific tasks especially relating to interfacing with computer system components.

There are different types of operating systems. The greatest problem with these operating systems is that not many programs are written for them. However if you can get the type of application programs you are looking for, one of the systems listed below may be a good choice.

  • Unix – A system that has been around for many years and it is very stable. It is primary used to be a server rather than a workstation and should not be used by anyone who does not understand the system. It can be difficult to learn. Unix must normally run an a computer made by the same company that produces the software.
  • Linux – Linux is similar to Unix in operation but it is free. It also should not be used by anyone who does not understand the system and can be difficult to learn.
  • Apple MacIntosh – Has a good graphical interface and is very stable and easy to learn. One drawback to this system is that it can only be run on Apple produced hardware.