Operating Systems – “A computer’s operating system is one of the most important “parts” of the computer. Almost every type of computer—including mobile telephones, video game systems, E-book readers, and DVRs—needs an operating system in order to operate properly.
When one turns on a computer, the operating system tells the computer what to do by controlling the system resources such as the processor, memory, disk space, etc. The operating system allows the user to work on the computer without having to know all the details about how the hardware works”
Operating systems must accomplish the following tasks:
1. Processor management. The operating system needs to allocate enough of the processor’s time to each process and application so that they can run as efficiently as possible. This is particularly important for multitasking. When the user has multiple applications and processes running, it is up to the operating system to ensure that they have enough resources to run properly.
2. Memory storage and management. The operating system needs to ensure that each process has enough memory to execute the process, while also ensuring that one process does not use the memory allocated to another process. This must also be done in the most efficient manner. A computer has four general types of memory. In order of speed, they are: high-speed cache, main memory, secondary memory, and disk storage. The operating system must balance the needs of each process with the different types of memory available.
3. Device management. Most computers have additional hardware, such as printers and scanners, connected to them. These devices require drivers, or special programs that translate the electrical signals sent from the operating system or application program to the hardware device. The operating system manages the input to and output from the computer.
4. Application interface. Programmers use application program interfaces (APIs) to control the computer and operating system. As software developers write applications, they can insert these API functions in their programs. As the operating system encounters these API functions, it takes the desired action, so the programmer does not need to know the details of controlling the hardware.
5. User interface. The user interface sits as a layer above the operating system. It is the part of the application through which the user interacts with the application. Some operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh, use graphical user interfaces. Other operating systems, such as Unix, use shells.
Modern operating systems use a graphical user interface, or GUI (pronounced gooey). A GUI lets you use your mouse to click icons, buttons, and menus, and everything is clearly displayed on the screen using a combination of graphics and text.
Each operating system’s GUI has a different look and feel, so if you switch to a different operating system it may seem unfamiliar at first. However, modern operating systems are designed to be easy to use, and most of the basic principles are the same.