What is an Operating System and what are it’s functions

What is an Operating System(OS)?

The Operating System(OS) acts as an interface between the user and the computer hardware and controls the execution of programs, managing Input/Output and communication resources. It allows the user to communicate without having to know the computer language.

operating system

Source: Google Image Search

Functions of OS

Memory Management 

It is a process of controlling and co-ordinating computer memory. It assigns portions called blocks to various running programs to optimize overall system performance.

  • Keeps track of primary memory.
  • Decides which process will get memory when and for how much time.
  • Allocates/De-allocates the memory when a process requests it to do so.

Processor Management 

In a multiprogramming environment, which process gets the processor when and for how much time.

  • Keeps track of processor and the status of processes.
  • Allocates/De-allocates the processor to a process.

Device Management 

An OS manages various devices attached through drivers.

  • Keeps track of all the devices.
  • Decides which process gets the device when and for how much time.
  • Allocates/De-allocates the devices.

File Management 

A file system is organized into directories for easy navigation and usage. These directories may contain files and other directions.

  • Keeps track of information, location, uses, status etc.
  • Decides who gets the resources.
  • Allocates/De-allocates the resources.

The other important functions include Security, Control over system performance, Job accounting, Error detecting raids and Co-ordination between other software and users.

Examples of OS

Well, our laptops, desktops and tablets all have OS that you might have heard of. The examples of computer related OS includes Microsoft’s Windows ( Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 etc).  Apple’s MacOS (OS10) for apple based computers and desktops. There is also an open source OS by the name linux which is free. While the windows based OS might cost you significant money, Linux is a cheap alternative. Below is the interface of linux based OS.

operating system

Source: Google Image Search


While most of the OS provides GUI(Graphical User Interface) that includes a desktop and the ability to manage files and folders. OS based on Windows and Linux can be installed on standard PC hardware while OS X is designed to run only on Apple Systems.

Apart from Computers, Mobile Phones have also got OS installed in them. Well, the most common used OS for smartphones today is Android followed by Apple’s iOS and windows etc. Android, iOS are mainly for touchscreen smartphones and tablets.

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