Role of operating system: The 1st program that runs when a typical computer is turned ON, and the last one to finish running when the computer is turned OFF.
It manages the hardware and software resources of the computer system, often invisibly. These include the Processor, memory, disk drives, etc.
It provides a simple, consistent way for applications to interact with the hardware without having to know all the details of the software.
Today most operating systems perform the following important functions:
Managing Resources: –
These programs coordinate the entire computer’s resources including keyboard, mouse, printer, monitor, storage devices and memory. An operating system creates a file structure on the computer hard drive where user data can be stored and retrieved.
File system: –
When a file is saved, the operating system saves it, attaches a name to it, and remembers where it put the file for future use. The way an operating system organizes information into files is called the files system.
Memory management: –
Memory management, that is, allocation of main memory and other storage areas to the system programs as well as user programs and data.
Providing a user interface: –
Users interact with application programs and computer hardware through a user interface. Almost all operating systems today provide a windows-like Graphical User Interface (GUI) in which graphic objects called icons are used to represent commonly used features.
Running applications: –
These programs load and run applications such as word processors and spreadsheets. Most operating systems support multitasking, or the ability to run more than one application at a time. When a user requests a program, the operating system locates the application and loads it into the primary memory or RAM of the computer. As more programs are loaded, the operating system must allocate the computer resources.
Support for built-in utility programs: –
The operating system uses utility programs for maintenance and repairs. Utility programs help identify problems, locate lost files, repair damaged files, and backup data. The figure here shows the progress of the Disk defragmenter, which is found in Programs > Accessories > System Tools.
Control to the computer hardware: –
The operating system sits between the programs and the Basic Input Output System (BIOS). The BIOS controls the hardware. All programs that need hardware resources must go through the operating system. The operating system can either access the hardware through the BIOS or through the device drivers.
Operating systems provide password protection to keep unauthorized users out of the system. Some operating systems also maintain activity logs and accounting of the user’s time for billing purposes. They also provide backup and recovery routines for starting over in the event of a system failure.
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