Operating System

Topics: Operating system, Unix, Microsoft Windows Pages: 28 (8616 words) Published: November 10, 2009
(operating system )

Operating system 

An operating system (OS) is an interface between hardware and user which is responsible for the management and coordination of activities and the sharing of the resources of the computer that acts as a host for computing applications run on the machine. As a host, one of the purposes of an operating system is to handle the details of the operation of the hardware. This relieves application programs from having to manage these details and makes it easier to write applications. Almost all computers (including handheld computers,desktop computers, supercomputers, video game consoles) as well as some robots, domestic appliances (dishwashers, washing machines), and portable media players use an operating system of some type.[1]Some of the oldest models may, however, use an embedded operating system that may be contained on a compact disk data storage device.


Operating systems offer a number of services to application programs and users. Applications access these services through application programming interfaces (APIs) or system calls. By invoking these interfaces, the application can request a service from the operating system, pass parameters, and receive the results of the operation. Users may also interact with the operating system with some kind of software user interface (SUI) like typing commands by using command line interface (CLI) or using a graphical user interface (GUI, commonly pronounced “gooey”). For hand-held and desktop computers, the user interface is generally considered part of the operating system. On large multi-user systems like Unix and Unix-like systems, the user interface is generally implemented as an application program that runs outside the operating system. (Whether the user interface should be included as part of the operating system is a point of contention.)

Common contemporary operating systems include BSD, Darwin (Mac OS X), Linux, SunOS (Solaris/OpenSolaris), and Windows NT (XP/Vista/7). While servers generally run Unix or some Unix-likeoperating system, embedded system markets are split amongst several operating systems,although the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems has almost 90% of the client PC market.



Through the 1950s, many major features were pioneered in the field of operating systems. The development of the IBM System/360 produced a family of mainframe computers available in widely differing capacities and price points, for which a single operating system OS/360 was planned (rather than developing ad-hoc programs for every individual model). This concept of a single OS spanning an entire product line was crucial for the success of System/360 and, in fact, IBM`s current mainframe operating systems are distant descendants of this original system; applications written for the OS/360can still be run on modern machines. In the mid-70's, the MVS, the descendant of OS/360 offered the first[citation needed] implementation of using RAM as a transparent cache for data.

OS/360 also pioneered a number of concepts that, in some cases, are still not seen outside of the mainframe arena. For instance, in OS/360, when a program is started, the operating system keeps track of all of the system resources that are used including storage, locks, data files, and so on. When the process is terminated for any reason, all of these resources are re-claimed by the operating system. An alternative CP-67 system started a whole line of operating systems focused on the concept of virtual machines.

Control Data Corporation developed the SCOPE operating system in the 1960s, for batch processing. In cooperation with the University of Minnesota, the KRONOS and later the NOS operating systems were developed during the 1970s, which supported simultaneous batch and timesharing use. Like many commercial timesharing systems, its interface was an extension of the Dartmouth BASIC...
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