An Operating System is one of the most important software interfaces between user and the hardware components that runs on a computer. The Operating system is responsible for managing the computer hardware components, software resources and for providing common services to all the computer programs and utilities. It can perform many other tasks such as memory management, file management, process management, input and output handling to controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers. Some of the most popular operating systems include Windows Operating System, Linux Operating System, VMS, Ubuntu, AIX, z/OS, OS/400, Apple macOS, Google’s Android OS, Apple’s IOS, Fedora, etc.

What is the need of an Operating System?

An operating System is a software program that after being fed into the computer system manages all the application programs in a computer. This is actually done by the application programs by making request for the services through the application program interface (APIs).  Had an operating system not been there, then each application program would have had to include its own UI and a comprehensive code that is required to handle all the functionalities of the computer. In such case, the vast array of underlying hardware would have bloated the size of all the application programs manifold thus making software development almost impractical. 

So, in order to ease the process, many common tasks such as displaying texts, images, etc. on a standard output device, sending a network packet, etc. can all be shifted to the system software which serves as a bridgeway between the application programs and the hardware. This system software acts as a platform that provides the applications with a consistent and repeatable way for interacting with the hardware. Here no more detailing is required from the hardware side and all the common tasks are performed in an easy and fast manner. The applications can now with the help of the system software access the same services and resources almost any number of times and this actually reduces the time consumed and the coding required for the development and debugging of the applications. The use of the system software also ensures that the users can now control, manage and configure the system hardware through a single well-built, easy to understand interface.

Functions of Operating System

An Operating System is a communication bridge between the users and the hardware components which provides the users with a method to execute the program in a very efficient manner. The main tasks that are carried out by the Operating System are allocation of resources and services and also includes the programs for managing, configuring and controlling these resources and services such as a scheduler, a traffic controller, memory management module, file system, I/O programs. The important functions of an Operating System include: 
  1. System Performance Control
    The Operating System keeps a track of the overall system health to better the system performance. It even records the response time between the service requests and the system response thus monitoring the health of the system. This greatly improves the performance of the system by providing important information needed to trouble shoot the programs.

  2. Security

    The Operating System makes use of many security techniques such as password protection, biometrics detection, etc. to protect user data and similar other information by preventing unauthorized access to the programs and the user relating information and data.
  3. Error Detection

    The function of the Operating System also is to constantly monitor the system and report for any errors occurring in the system. It even is tasked with providing aid for the errors occurring in the system thus avoiding malfunctioning of the computer system.
  4. Software and User Coordination
    Operating System also act as a bridgeway between the software and the user and helps in the coordination and assigning interpreters, assemblers, compilers and other software to the users.
  5. Job Accounting
    It does keep track of the time, resources and services used by various tasks and users. This information can be used to manage the resources and for tracking the resource usage for the particular user.
  6. Memory Management
    The Operating System also is assigned the management of the Main Memory of the system. This main memory comprises of a large array of the bytes where each byte is assigned a certain address. This Main memory is a very reliable, convenient and fast storage that ca directly be accessed by the Central Processing Unit. For any program to be executed, it first needs to be fed into the main memory after which the Operating System performs several other tasks of the memory management. This tasks generally include keeping track of the main memory and using it for the further reference of the system. It is the Operating System which decides the order in which the processes are granted access to the memory and also the time duration for which the memory can be accessed by the process. It is the function of the Operating System to allocate the memory to the system process when it requests for the memory and then also to deallocate the memory when the system process requests for the termination of the memory. 
  7. Process Management
    It is the Operating System which decides the order in which the processes have access to the processor and how much time can it have access to. The operating system performs the function of process scheduling by keeping track of the status of processes. The program which performs this tracking of the processes is known as Traffic Controller.
  8. File Management
    A file management is a process that is performed for efficient and easy navigation of the file system directories. An Operating System in there is tasked with the file managing activities such as keeping track of the information stored, user access settings and status management of each and every file stored. All these tasks performed are collectively referred as file system.
  9. Device Management
    An Operating System manages device communication while performing device management. This is usually done using the device drivers that keeps track of the devices connected to a system. It designates a program responsible for every device known as Input/Output controller which decides the process allocation to any device and for what time duration will it be allocated. It also allocates devices in an easy and efficient manner.

An Operating System in all controls the execution of the application programs and manages the link between the hardware and the user by acting as an interface for the two. The Operating System is a set of special programs that allows the computer to function properly. Their can be many types of operating System depending on the factors that are considered while making use of the software program. To know more about all such types, do log into the DockLearn website and improve your knowledge about the software.

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