“No one cares what operating system you run as long as it stays up” — Bruce Perens.
Well, this quote sums up the working of the operating system. If it’s working fine, you don’t even notice it. But if it stops working, your whole system collapses, and the computer becomes nothing more than a junk piece. Today, in this blog, we will show you the importance of operating systems and which one is the best option for you. Along the way, we will unwrap the features and other perks of using different types of operating systems.
What is an Operating System’s Task?
An operating system is considered to be essential software running on your computer. It controls the hardware and takes charge of various processes. Without an operating system, you won’t be able to communicate with your computer as the software and hardware work in the computer’s language. As a result, you can say an operating system is the communication medium between software and the hardware of your system.
It is common to have more than one software program installed on your computer. It could be video games, video editing applications, and other software programs. Sometimes you will be running these applications alongside each other. In that case, the operating system is the one responsible for managing and distributing various resources of your hardware to these programs in an efficient way. So that none of the applications goes on crashing.
Need for an Operating System
The main objective of any operating system is to perform the execution of user programs and make processing of the task much easier. An operating system acts as a medium of communication between hardware and applications. In addition, we have highlighted some more reasons as to why operating systems are important.
1. OS is a Platform
We install every other software after installing the operating system on the computer. This shows how the OS is the base platform for all the applications that you need. Without an OS, you cannot install multimedia applications like games, video editing software, video players, and much more. The OS is designed to operate, control, and execute many applications on computers.
2. Manages Input and Output
An operating system makes it possible for the computer to manage resources like memory, monitor, keyboard, printer, and other peripherals. The management of these resources is essential for effective utilization. It also allocates different input operations to a specific application. For example, if the user is working with a computer pen pad, then it’s up to the operating system to provide the input from the peripheral to the application.
3. User Interface
Yes, you can operate a computer using non-graphical user interface operating systems like MS-DOS. But in 2021, most of the applications require the user to have a graphical interface on which the application can be presented. The operating system provides the GUI for your computer. Apart from this, the operating system also provides consistency in the UI. If you are using one operating system such as Windows, then you know how to control and perform tasks in other systems as well that are running Windows OS.
Before the operating system was a thing, computers couldn’t run two applications or software simultaneously. With OS, the memory present in computers gets distributed according to the requirement. Likewise, multitasking also helps in enhancing the user experience as it allows the functioning of several tasks on the computer at the same time.
Functions of an Operating System
Let’s move to the next part and find out the various functions performed by an operating system installed on your computer.
Giving Out Instructions
All the instructions given to the user are first understood by the operating system and then converted into binary code, which is sent to the various hardware. This is the most critical function of an operating system.
What will be the output of the given input, and which application needs to access that input? All these different operations of input and output are taken care of by the operating system. In addition to this, the OS also coordinates with other input and output devices.
The OS makes it possible for the user to make changes to stored files and shift them from one location to the other. Likewise, it is also helpful in transferring files from one location to the other.
Your processor, no matter how many cores it has, still can’t handle multiple tasks altogether and needs an operating system to manage different processes. Besides this, a processor is also said to be an execution unit in which any program runs; thus, how much processing power needs to be given to a specific task is also defined by the OS.
The first line of defense of your computer is the operating system. Having an operating system that prioritizes security over anything else has become a necessity in the world of the Internet. Latest OSs use firewall protection to keep the user’s data and system safe from online web attacks. A firewall is a system that keeps a hawk-eye on every single activity that is taking place on the computer. When some threat has been seen from the activity, the firewall blocks it instantly and alerts the user.
Different Types of Operating Systems
Moving on to various types of operating systems which you can choose right now for your computer, mobile, and other devices as well.
1. Batch OS
Batch OS is the first-ever operating system that was developed to be used in second-generation computers. Being such an old-school OS, this software does not interact with the computer components. So to fill up the space, an operator takes up the job of interacting with components and grouping them into a batch. After that, these batches will be executed one by one according to their first-come, first-serve principle.
Benefits of Batch OS
- With the implementation of Batch OS, the time taken to perform similar tasks became lower.
- More than one user can share the batch systems.
- With batch operating, working with large files has now become more accessible.
- Lastly, the idle time for a single batch file is significantly less. Thus, systems were able to complete the tasks in a short time.
Problems with Batch OS
- The Batch systems are hard to debug in the first place.
- If one of the jobs fails during the processing, the other jobs have to wait for an unprecedented amount of time till the issue gets resolved.
- Sometimes the Batch systems on which this OS will work are costly to configure.
For example, bank’s payroll systems, data entry systems, and more.
2. Distributed OS
Distributed OS is relatively new in the field of computer technology. Besides, it is being used all over the world right now. In this software, many computers are connected via a single communication channel. Each of these computers has its memory, CPU, and other necessary parts of a computer. Also, in this configuration, the computers are known as loosely coupled systems.
The size of the computers can be different, meaning you can have a laptop in there, alongside a server and a gaming system as well. The main advantage of this type of setup is that one can access the file even if it is not present in their system but connected with the machine which has it. Apart from this, remote access is also present in this network.
Benefits of Distributed OS
- In case one of the systems suffers a failure, it will not affect the others that are present in the network as all the systems are independent of each other.
- With the distribution OS, the work is also divided into many systems. As a result, the workload on the host system is also reduced.
- Furthermore, a user can scale up the network when needed as many computers can be added to the network.
- Due to the sharing of the workload, more processors are used, resulting in faster calculations in a much shorter time.
- Lastly, it uses electronic mail, which causes a massive increase in data exchange speeds.
- Setting the distributed OS is quite expensive.
- The applications and programs that can use the maximum potential of distributed OS are expensive and come with complex working.
- If the primary network faces trouble, the whole network will experience issues.
For example, LOCUS.
3. Multitasking OS
A multitasking OS provides users with the interface to perform multiple executions at the same time. For example, one can edit a video while the music player is playing songs in the background. There are two types of OS, and the first is a true multitasking OS that executes multiple programs without any delays.
On the other hand, there is preemptive multitasking that is assigned specifically for the computer operating system. In this, the OS decides how much time needs to be spent on a single task before assigning the other functions.
Benefits of Multitasking OS
- First is the time-sharing, all the tasks are given specific pieces of time, so there is no waiting time for the CPU in any case.
- This OS is developed for multiple users at the same time, and the number of programs will be run smoothly without decreasing the performance of the system.
- One of the best features of multitasking OS is its secured memory, and the OS does not give any permission to the unwanted programs to waste out the memory present in the system.
- Multitasking OS comes with the best virtual memory system. In addition to this, with the help of virtual memory, no program has to spend a long waiting time for the completion of their tasks. If some problems come in, those programs will be sent to the virtual memory to deal with.
- It provides great flexibility for various users, and the system has all the components to satisfy the needs of the users. Thus, a user can operate single or multiple programs on it with ease.
Problems with Multitasking OS
- Processes that are of higher priority will not be executed in the first place because they will be given the same priority as the other processes.
- In some cases, the data communication was found to have some bugs.
Examples: all the latest operating systems, from Windows 2000 to Windows 11, come under multitasking OS. Even UNIX, macOS is considered to be a multitasking OS.
4. Network OS
These operating systems are specifically made to run only on servers and to manage all the networking functions. This will allow sharing of files all over the network and can be sent to the printers and other computers via LAN connection. In this OS, all the users know the configurations of every other user which is present in the network. As a result, this OS is also known as a tightly coupled system.
Benefits of Network OS
- The Network OS gives users the basic OS features to work with that could support processors, protocols, automatic hardware detection, along with the support of applications that demands multi-processing.
- Besides, Network OS is the most secure operating system currently. It will require authentication, login restrictions, and even access control to the owner.
- Users get directory services, backup services, and printing capabilities built in the OS along with routing, WAN ports, and clustering capabilities.
Disadvantages of Using Network OS
- To configure a server system, one has to pour in lots of money.
- All the users have to rely on a central location for most of the operations.
- Lastly, maintenance and regular updates are required.
For example, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008.
5. Real-Time OS (RTOS)
RTOS is used when a system has to perform a large number of processes in a short time which is mostly external before the deadline. Some of these applications are related to industrial control, telephone switching equipment, flight control, and even real-time simulations.
The processing time of RTOS is measured in a tenth of a second, and the systems are time-bound, so they have a fixed deadline. As a result, the processing of a task is done with specified constraints, and if these constraints are not there. Then the machine will have a system failure. There are three types of RTOS, hard RTOS, soft RTOS, and firm RTOS.
Advantages of RTOS
- It uses the maximum number of devices and other systems which are present in the network. Thus, it can create more output from the connected resources.
- The time for shifting tasks in RTOS is quite low. In older systems, it used to take 10 microseconds, now it has come down to 3 microseconds.
- It is developed in such a way that the main focus is on running the applications that are performing some tasks.
- RTOS are considered to be error-free systems, and they have the best memory allocation system in comparison to other operating systems.
Disadvantages of RTOS
- The system resources for RTOS are pretty expensive and are not suitable for performing regular tasks.
- The algorithms which are used in these systems are quite complex and hard to understand.
- A limited number of tasks can run at a given time.
- As we said earlier, the system is not built to switch the tasks easily, so shifting the thread priority is not possible.
Example: Time OS, medical imaging systems, robotic machines, etc.
6. Mobile OS
Modern mobiles have become mini-computers that allow users to play video games, send emails, video call their friends and family, and many more. During the pandemic, smartphones were working as a laptop for conducting online classes and meetings. The mobile OS is much lighter and simple. In the 2010s, there were many operating systems, and each mobile company had its OS along with the UI. But now, most of the smartphones are running Android OS, which is developed and owned by Google. Apart from this, iPhones come with iOS developed by Apple.
Benefits of Mobile OS
- This OS is specifically designed for mobile use. Thus, it gives ease of access.
Disadvantages of Mobile OS
- You cannot perform heavy tasks on these OS. Also, they can’t be installed on other devices. What company provides you, you have to be satisfied with that only and wait for the updates to come.
For example, Apple’s iOS, Android’s Marshmallow, 11, 10, etc.
So these were the different types of available operating systems and the difference between them. You can select them as per your need and purchase them separately. On the other hand, some systems come with a pre-installed OS. In that case, we suggest you should stick with that operating system only as it is optimal for that hardware configuration.