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An operating system (OS), in its most general sense, is software that allows a user to run other applications on a computing device. While it is possible for a software application to interface directly with hardware, the vast majority of applications are written for an OS, which allows them to take advantage of common libraries and not worry about specific hardware details.
The operating system manages a computer’s hardware resources, including:
- Input devices such as a keyboard and mouse
- Output devices such as display monitors, printers and scanners
- Network devices such as modems, routers and network connections
- Storage devices such as internal and external drives
The OS also provides services to facilitate the efficient execution and management of, and memory allocations for, any additional installed software application programs.
The Operating System is a program with the following features −
- An operating system is a program that acts as an interface between the software and the computer hardware.
- It is an integrated set of specialized programs used to manage overall resources and operations of the computer.
- It is a specialized software that controls and monitors the execution of all other programs that reside in the computer, including application programs and other system software.
Objectives of Operating System
The objectives of the operating system are −
- To make the computer system convenient to use in an efficient manner.
- To hide the details of the hardware resources from the users.
- To provide users a convenient interface to use the computer system.
- To act as an intermediary between the hardware and its users, making it easier for the users to access and use other resources.
- To manage the resources of a computer system.
- To keep track of who is using which resource, granting resource requests, and mediating conflicting requests from different programs and users.
- To provide efficient and fair sharing of resources among users and programs.
Characteristics of Operating System
Here is a list of some of the most prominent characteristic features of Operating Systems −
- Memory Management − Keeps track of the primary memory, i.e. what part of it is in use by whom, what part is not in use, etc. and allocates the memory when a process or program requests it.
- Processor Management − Allocates the processor (CPU) to a process and deallocates the processor when it is no longer required.
- Device Management − Keeps track of all the devices. This is also called I/O controller that decides which process gets the device, when, and for how much time.
- File Management − Allocates and de-allocates the resources and decides who gets the resources.
- Security − Prevents unauthorized access to programs and data by means of passwords and other similar techniques.
- Job Accounting − Keeps track of time and resources used by various jobs and/or users.
- Control Over System Performance − Records delays between the request for a service and from the system.
- Interaction with the Operators − Interaction may take place via the console of the computer in the form of instructions. The Operating System acknowledges the same, does the corresponding action, and informs the operation by a display screen.
- Error-detecting Aids − Production of dumps, traces, error messages, and other debugging and error-detecting methods.
- Coordination Between Other Software and Users − Coordination and assignment of compilers, interpreters, assemblers, and other software to the various users of the computer systems.
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