Operating Systems: An Introduction to Operating Systems


Introduction to Operating Systems

Discover the fundamentals of Operating Systems in this comprehensive introduction. Learn how these essential software systems manage computer resources, handle tasks, and facilitate user interactions. Explore the key types of Operating Systems, their unique functionalities, and their relevance in various computing environments. Ultimately, this article provides a solid foundation in understanding Operating Systems’ crucial role in modern computing.

Also, let’s read: An Introduction to Deep Learning

Table of Contents

Operating System

An Operating System is a special program or software that works as a bridge between the user and computer by providing an interface to the user and computer. The Operating System is mainly responsible for handling the execution of all programs and applications in the computer. 

Microsoft Windows, Mac OS (including Darwin), UNIX, and Linux are examples of Operating Systems.

E.g.: An operating system is responsible for the allocation of resources (memory, process, network, storage) when a task is being performed such as surfing on Chrome.

In simple words,

An operating system is a soul of the computer just like a real-life soul for a body. A soul is the lifeline of the body and in this same way, until an operating system is corrupted in a computer, it works the same as a body works with the soul.

An operating system is the main root of the computer just like a seed root for a tree. How a root grows and manages the whole tree while growing flowers simultaneously in this same way an operating system is responsible for handling the execution of multiple tasks simultaneously along with the distribution of memory, process, network, storage, etc, among applications/resources.

An operating system is a path to provide an interface between the user and computer to allow a user to control the computer to execute the task while maintaining the allocation of resources among multiple tasks.

Introduction to OS

An operating system is an important factor in computer systems. A computer system can be  divided roughly into four components:  

Hardware – Hardware is the necessary tool in computers which includes the central processing  unit (CPU), memory, and input/output devices.  

Operating system – The operating system manages and coordinates the use of hardware by  multiple application applications for different users.

Application programs –  Application programmes, such as word processors,  spreadsheets, compilers, and web browsers, define how these resources are used to solve users’  computing problems. 

Users –  A user is the operator or person passing the command to the computer to work on it.

Types of Operating Systems 

Batch Operating System – A batch operating system is a type of operating system where tasks or jobs are executed in batches without the need for user interaction during their execution. It allows multiple users to use a computer at the same time but without direct communication between them. This is done by having the users submit their jobs to the operating system, which then processes them one at a time.

Time-sharing Operating System – A time-sharing operating system (TSO) is a type of operating system that allows multiple users to interact with the computer system at the same time. This is done by dividing the CPU time among the users so that each user gets a small amount of time to run their programs.

TSOs are typically used for interactive tasks, such as word processing, email, and web browsing. They are also often used in education and research, where multiple users need to access the same computer system.

Distributed Operating Systems – A distributed operating system (DOS) is an operating system that runs on multiple interconnected computers and allows them to work together as a unified computing system. In a distributed operating system, resources and tasks are distributed across the network, and the individual computers, often referred to as nodes, collaborate to provide a cohesive computing environment. These systems are designed to improve performance, scalability, reliability, and resource utilization in large-scale computing environments. 

Real-Time Operating System – A real-time operating system (RTOS) is a specialized operating system designed to manage and prioritize tasks in real-time systems, where tasks have strict timing constraints. It differs from traditional OSes in that it can guarantee a timely response to events and tasks, making it suitable for mission-critical applications.

Main Features of Type of Operating Systems

1. Batch Operating System

Jobs: A job is a unit of work that is submitted to the operating system. A job typically consists of a program, some data, and instructions on how to run the program.

Job queue: The job queue is a list of jobs that are waiting to be processed by the operating system. Jobs are typically added to the job queue in the order in which they are submitted.

Job scheduler: The job scheduler is responsible for selecting jobs from the job queue and processing them. The job scheduler typically uses a first-come, first-served approach, but other scheduling algorithms can also be used.

Job control language: A job control language (JCL) is a language that is used to submit jobs to the operating system. JCL statements typically specify the program to be run, the data to be used, and any other instructions that are needed to run the job.

2. Time-sharing Operating System

Multiuser Support: TSOS supports multiple users logging in and running their programs concurrently on the same computer system.

Time Slicing: The CPU time is divided into small time intervals, typically ranging from a few milliseconds to a few seconds. Each user’s program is allocated a time slice, and the CPU switches between tasks rapidly.

Context Switching: The operating system performs context switching, which involves saving the current state of a running task, loading the state of the next task, and resuming execution. This process happens during each time slice to switch between different user programs.

Interactive Response: Time-sharing systems aim to provide quick response times to user inputs, making them suitable for interactive tasks and terminals.

3. Distributed Operating Systems

Resource Sharing: Distributed operating systems enable resource sharing across the network, allowing users to access and utilize resources (such as files, printers, and computational power) from any connected node.

Transparency: One of the primary goals of distributed operating systems is transparency, which means that users and applications should be unaware of the distributed nature of the system. This transparency may include location transparency, access transparency, and migration transparency.

Scalability: Distributed operating systems should be scalable, allowing the system to grow and adapt to accommodate an increasing number of nodes and users.

Security: Ensuring the security and integrity of data and resources in a distributed environment is a critical aspect of distributed operating systems. Authentication, access control, and encryption mechanisms are commonly employed.

4. Real-Time Operating system

Industrial control systems: These systems control machines and processes in factories, power plants, and other industrial settings. The timing of events in these systems is critical, as even a small delay could lead to a safety hazard or loss of production.

Telecommunications: RTOSs are used in telecommunications networks to control the flow of data. The timing of events in these networks is critical, as even a small delay could lead to dropped calls or data corruption.

Medical devices: RTOSs are used in medical devices to control the delivery of drugs or therapy. The timing of events in these devices is critical, as even a small delay could lead to a patient’s death.

Function of OS

The operating system is the most important piece of software in a computer. It has numerous  purposes and, at its most basic, serves as an interface between your computer and the outside world.  A computer is described under the hardware section as having various component elements,  including a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other equipment. The operating system interfaces with  these components via what are known as “drivers.” This is why, when you install a new printer or  other piece of hardware, the system may prompt you to install additional software known as a driver.

A driver is a specially created programme that understands how the device it interacts with works,  such as a printer, video card, sound card, or CD ROM drive. It converts commands from the operating  system or the user into commands that the component computer part with which it communicates  understands. It also converts responses from the component computer element into responses that  the operating system, application programme, or user can understand.

Main functions of an OS

Resource management: The OS manages the computer’s hardware resources, such as the CPU, memory, and storage devices. It allocates these resources to programs as needed, and it ensures that no program uses more resources than it is entitled to.

Task management: The OS manages the execution of programs. It creates and terminates tasks, and it schedules tasks to run on the CPU.

I/O management: The OS manages the input and output (I/O) devices of the computer. It sends data to and receives data from I/O devices, and it ensures that I/O devices are used efficiently.

File management: The OS manages the files on the computer’s storage devices. It creates, opens, closes, reads, and writes files, and it provides a way for programs to access files.

Security: The OS provides security for the computer system. It enforces access control to files and other resources, and it protects the computer from unauthorized access.

User interface: The OS provides a user interface (UI) for the computer system. The UI allows users to interact with the computer system, and it provides a way for users to run programs and access files.


In this article, we provided a comprehensive introduction to Operating Systems, shedding light on their vital role in the world of computing. We have explored how Operating Systems efficiently manage hardware and software resources, enabling seamless interaction between users and machines.

Furthermore, we learned about the evolution of Operating Systems, from early batch processing systems to today’s sophisticated time-sharing and virtualization-based platforms. As technology continues to evolve, Operating Systems will remain at the heart of computing infrastructure, enabling seamless interactions between users and machines while driving innovations across various industries.

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