What is the operating system?

What Does Operating system Mean

We explain what an operating system is, what are its types, uses and components. Also, its functions and some examples.

Windows is one of the most widely used operating systems.

What is the operating system?

The operating system is the software that coordinates and directs all the services and applications used by the user on a computer , which is why it is the most important and fundamental. These are programs that allow and regulate the most basic aspects of the system. The most widely used operating systems are Windows , Linux, OS / 2 and DOS.


Operating systems, also called cores or kernels, usually run in a privileged way compared to the rest of the software, without allowing any program to make important changes to it that could compromise its operation.

The operating system is the basic operating protocol of the computer , which coordinates all its other communication , processing, and user interface functions.

Operating systems consist of graphical interfaces, desktop environments, or window managers that provide the user with a graphical representation of running processes. It can also be a command line, that is, a set of instructions ordered according to their priority and that works based on commands entered by the user.

The first versions of computers did not have operating systems. In the 1960s computers used batch processing and it was during these years that operating systems began to develop.

Although from the eighties some well-known ones had already begun to emerge, from the nineties these programs began to be more flexible and strong. One of the big milestones was the release of Windows 95 .

It can help you: System software

What is an operating system for?

Operating systems allow other programs to use them as support in order to function. For this reason, certain programs can be installed from the system used and others cannot.

They are an essential part of the operation of computer systems and the central piece of software in the process chain , since they establish the minimum conditions for everything to work: the administration of resources, the method of communication with the user and with other systems, additional applications.

Components of an operating system

The operating system has three essential components or software packages that allow interaction with the hardware :

  • System files . It is the registry of files where they acquire a tree structure.
  • Command interpretation. It is achieved with those components that allow the interpretation of the commands, whose function is to communicate the orders given by the user in a language that the hardware can interpret (without the person giving the orders knowing that language).
  • Core. It allows operation on basic issues such as communication, input and output data , process management and memory , among others.

Functions of an operating system

  • Manage memory random access and run applications designating necessary resources.
  • Manage the CPU through an algorithm of programming .
  • Address the data inputs and outputs (through drivers ) through the input or output peripherals .
  • Manage the information for the proper functioning of the PC.
  • Direct use authorizations for users.
  • Manage files .

Characteristics of an operating system

  • It is the intermediary between the user and the hardware.
  • It is necessary for the operation of all computers, tablets and mobile phones.
  • It provides security and protects the programs and files of the computer.
  • It is designed to be user friendly and easy to use.
  • It allows to manage efficiently the resources of the computer.
  • Most require the payment of a license to use.
  • Allows you to interact with multiple devices.
  • It is progressive , since there are constantly new versions that are updated and adapted to the user's needs.

Operating system types

The types of operating system vary depending on the hardware and function of each device. There are some for computers and others for mobile devices.

  • Depending on the user, they can be: multi-user, operating system that allows several users to run their programs simultaneously; or single user, an operating system that only allows one user's programs to run at a time.
  • According to the task management, they can be: single task , an operating system that only allows one process to run at a time; or multitasking, an operating system that can run multiple processes at the same time.
  • According to resource management, they can be: centralized, an operating system that only allows the use of the resources of a single computer; or distributed, an operating system that allows the processes of more than one computer to run at the same time.

Examples of operating systems

MacOS is developed for Apple computers.
  • Microsoft Windows . Of the most popular that exist, initially it was a set of distributions or graphical operating environments, whose role was to provide other older operating systems such as MS-DOS with a visual representation of support and other software tools. It was first published in 1985 and has since been updated to new versions.
  • MS-DOS . This is the Operating System Disk MicroSoft (stands for MicroSoft Disk Operating System ), one of the most common operating systems for personal computers IBM during the 1980s and mid-90s had a number of internal commands and externally displayed on a dark screen sequentially.
  • UNIX. This operating system was developed in 1969 to be portable, multi-tasking and multi-user. It is really a whole family of similar OS, some of whose distributions have been offered commercially and others in free format, always based on the kernel called Linux.
  • MacOS. It is the operating system for Apple's Macintosh computers, also known as OSX or Mac OSX. Based on Unix and developed and sold on Apple computers since 2002, it is the fiercest competition from the popular Windows.
  • Ubuntu. This operating system is free and open source, that is, everyone can modify it without violating copyright. It takes its name from a certain ancient South African philosophy, focused on man's loyalty to his own species above all else. Based on GNU / Linux, Ubuntu is oriented towards ease of use and total freedom. The British company that distributes it, Canonical, subsists by providing technical service.
  • Android. This Linux kernel-based operating system runs on cell phones and tablets and other devices equipped with a touch screen. It was developed by Android Inc. and later purchased by Google, making it so popular that Android computer systems sales outperform IOS (for Macintosh cell phones) and Windows Phone (for MicroSoft cell phones).

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