Operating system

An operating system is a program that manages a computer’s hardware. It also provides a basis for application programs and acts as an intermediary between the computer user and the computer hardware.

Abstract view of the components of a computer system
Abstract view of the components of a computer system

What Operating Systems Do ?

The hardware—the central processing unit (CPU), the memory, and the input/output (I/O) devices—provides the basic computing resources for the system. The application programs—such as word processors, spreadsheets, compilers, and Web browsers—define the ways in which these resources are used to solve users’ computing problems. The operating system controls the hardware and coordinates its use among the various application programs for the various users

User View

The user’s view of the computer varies according to the interface being used. Most computer users sit in front of a PC, consisting of a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and system unit. Such a system is designed for one user to monopolize its resources.

The goal is to maximize the work (or play) that the user is performing. In this case, the operating system is designed mostly for ease of use, with some attention paid to performance and none paid to resource utilization—how various hardware and software resources are shared. Performance is, of course, important to the user; but such systems are optimized for the single-user experience rather than the requirements of multiple users

System View

From the computer’s point of view, the operating system is the program most intimately involved with the hardware. In this context, we can view an operating system as a resource allocator.

A computer system has many resources that may be required to solve a problem: CPU time, memory space, file-storage space, I/O devices, and so on. The operating system acts as the manager of these resources.

Facing numerous and possibly conflicting requests for resources, the operating system must decide how to allocate them to specific programs and users so that it can operate the computer system efficiently and fairly. As we have seen, resource allocation is especially important where many users access the same mainframe or minicomputer

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