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Computer Operating Systems

Computer operating systems have evolved over the years to become one of the most integral software components of a computer system.  Without the operating system, being able to use a personal computer would be much more difficult.  The operating system allows the user to easily and more successfully navigate the computer system without having to know complicated commands and requests.

In the early days of computers, operating systems weren't part of the overall system configuration.  They came about after the super computers had already been invented.  Before operating systems, information was input into the computer with punch cards.  The system wasn't very efficient and required knowledge of punch card machines just to get the desired information from the computer.

The Concept of an Operating System

In the early days of computers, the concept of an operating system wasn't really thought of.  When users needed to input information into the computer, they fed it into the system on punched pieces of paper.  The computer would go to work on the information until it finished, or more often than not, it crashed.
 
Then, some savvy programmers decided that it would be a good idea to make computers easier to use and the concept of the operating system was born.  A small corporation on the West Coast called Microsoft set to work at making computers more user-friendly for the general public.  They had a vision that would put computers in everyone's home and business.

Definition of Operating System

While an operating system is a central part of your computer system, knowing the definition of an operating system is not integral to knowing how to use one.  However, when you do know the definition of an operating system, you can better understand what it is doing inside your computer to make it run and to make using it easier for you.
 
In its basic form, the definition of an operating system is as follows:  a set of computer programs that manage the hardware and software resources of a computer system.  We can add to that definition to say that an operating system rationally processes electronic devices in response to approved commands.

Functions of Operating Systems

The operating system on your computer has many functions.  While you may not be aware of what many of them are or actually do, the operating system helps you navigate your computer more easily and allows you to manage programs and functions with the computer system itself.
 
One function of your operating system is process management.  Every program running on a computer - whether it is in the background or the foreground - is a process.  Generally, only one process per CPU can run at one time.  However, multiple processes can run through multi-tasking which entails switching processes very quickly.  The operating system makes this type of multi-tasking possible.

History of Operating Systems

The history of computer operating systems is relatively new.  Early versions of computers didn't run on any kind of operating system which made them difficult to operate for the general user.  The user had sole use of the machine and would arrive armed with programs and data usually on punched paper tape.  The program would be loaded into the machine and the machine would set to work until it was completed or the computer crashed.
 
Over the years, operating systems have evolved to more user-friendly software programs that make it easier for anyone to use a computer in a more efficient way.  As machines became more powerful, the necessity for some type of program to manage the data and the processes became more and more important.

Operating System Design

With the popularity of free software, computer geeks all over the world have begun to think about operating system design.  Because the free operating systems that are currently online allow changes and redistribution, some enterprising individuals to begin thinking about designing their own operating system based on the freeware.  So, how do you go about coming up with your own operating system design?  First, you need to understand the components of an operating system.

Most operating system designs involve a software component called the kernel, which is responsible for hardware abstraction and resource management. The kernel is present at all times to all applications running on the system, and defines a special mechanism, known as a system call, by which applications can make requests of it.

Operating System Download

With the advent of free software, it is possible to download a new operating system for you to install on your computer.  The idea behind free software is that you won't have to pay for something that could quite possibly be new and better than what you are already using.  This freeware is available for download at no charge and then you can install it right away.
 
When you are downloading a new operating system, you need to find a place in your file system to store it to.  You will not want to run the software before you save it.  Once you click on the 'download' link, let your current system work and store it in a place that is easily accessible.  It could take quite some time to download an operating system, so be patient.

Understanding Your Operating System

It's really not difficult to understand the concept of your operating system.  When you consider that it is an integral part of your computer that makes it easier for you to use your system, understanding an operating system can be a simple thing.
 
Basically, your operating system is the main program on your computer.  It is installed with the intent to make operating your computer easier and more user-friendly.  Operating systems were developed with you, the user in mind, and make navigating a computer as well as all the programs on it possible for almost everyone ? even small children.

Operating System Implementation

Implementation is the realization, application, or execution of a plan, idea, model, design, specification, standard, algorithm, or policy.  In computer science, an implementation is a realization of a technical specification or algorithm for the computer system.  When we speak of an operating system implementation, we are referring to the end result of years of design and dreams as that operating system becomes a reality and is released to the general public.
 
In the world of computers, products are implemented all of the time.  Operating system implementation is not alone as various software products, hardware products, and languages are implemented all of the time.  That means that they are developed, tested, and then released for use.

Operating System Requirements

Depending on what operating system you choose to use on your computer, the system requirements will be different.  Obviously, larger operating systems will require more system resources than smaller ones.  It is important to know what the system requirements are of your chosen operating system.  Here's a brief overview of what you need to know.
 
Windows is the most popular operating system in the world today.  There are many versions of Windows that have been distributed over the years, and some people are still using some of the older versions rather than upgrading to the newer ones.  The system requirements tell the story why.

Operating System Security

When you are a computer user, security is a big issue.  The developers of operating systems know that system security is important too.  That's why all operating systems have built-in security features that make it safe to both navigate the Internet as well as keep unauthorized users from using your computer.
 
Operating system security is based on two principles:
 
1.  The operating system provides access to a number of resources, directly or indirectly such as files on a local disk, privileged system calls, personal information about users, and the services offered by the programs running on the system.

Upgrading Your Operating System

When you are using an outdated operating system on your computer, you may want to upgrade it to a newer version or even a different one.  With all of the emerging technologies that are being developed, you may want to consider upgrading your operating system so you have new features and a more efficient computer.

Every time one of the big computer companies comes out with a new operating system, users always wonder if they should upgrade.  Answering "yes" could make productive new operating-system tools available to you, or it could create headaches if your existing programs or devices aren't compatible with it. Answering "no" could save you money and avoid hassles, or it could prevent you from upgrading your other programs.

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