You are reading this post, using your device, but do you know what made it possible? It’s the operating system that acts as an interface between the software and the hardware. We have come a long way from writing codes to performing functions to simply using the drag-and-drop facility. All these are made possible with the operating system. We cannot speak the computer’s language, so we need an operating system that allows us to interact with our devices. If it were not for operating systems, our devices would have been of no use to us.
Why the operating system is important?
Our devices are more complex than they seem to be. You are simply using your device, but are you aware of the complex programs that run side by side? And, these complex programs are in constant need of access to the CPU, memory, and storage of the machine.
It’s the operating system that ensures these programs get access to what they need. The tedious task of coordinating is performed well by the operating system, making it an essential component.
What are the types of operating systems?
Each device you purchase comes with an OS. In fact, OS is one of the factors that some people consider before making purchasing decisions related to devices. Here, is a list of different types of OS:
1. Batch operating system
The batch OS includes payroll systems, daily reports, transaction processes, and bank statements. So, what happens in this OS, is that all the programs and data are grouped in the form of batches. Then, these batches are processed.
The best part about this OS is that all the similar jobs are given for processing at the same time, which saves time in execution. Hence, reducing idle time. The drawback of this OS is that it can be costly and if, for some reason, the job fails, then the waiting time for execution of other jobs is unpredictable.
Overview of Batch OS
- Batch OS processes tasks in a group or “batch” without any manual intervention.
- It does not require user interaction, and the outcomes are known beforehand.
- Efficient for repetitive tasks and executed with minimum human efforts.
- Often used in mainframe computers.
- Jobs with similar needs are batched together.
2. Distributed operating system
The distributed OS includes LOCUS, IRIX, Mach, and MICROS. In this OS, there is a single communication channel, where various devices are connected. This makes it possible for users to access files available in the connected system, irrespective of whether the files are available or not on their system.
The applications of the distributed OS are internet technology, airline reservation control systems, and telecommunications networks. The good part about this OS is that it reduces the load on the host system, but on the other hand, if the main network fails, the whole system suffers.
Overview of Distributed OS
- It spreads tasks across multiple machines in a network.
- Several systems on a network work concurrently on jobs.
- Enable high communication speed between processes.
- Provides improved scalability, reliability, and performance.
- Each machine operates independently.
3. Time-sharing operating system
The time-sharing OS includes Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, 2000, Linux, and UNIX. In this OS, all the tasks work efficiently as they are allocated with time, eliminating the waiting time for the CPU. The advantage of this OS is that it maintains the system’s performance despite handling multiple users. And, it ensures that programs run smoothly. But on the flip side, the CPU heats up as multiple processors are used for executing tasks.
Overview of Time-sharing OS
- Allows multiple users or programs to use the computer resources simultaneously.
- Resources are allocated to each user or program for a short time slice or “quantum”.
- It will create a perception of simultaneous execution.
- Generally used on large-scale computers.
- Enhances productivity by reducing wait times.
4. Network operating system
The network OS includes Sun Solaris, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, 2008, and Mac OS X. In this OS, LAN(local area network) or inter-network systems are used to connect computers and terminals. It is also called a tightly coupled system, as the users in the same network know the configurations of the other users.
The benefit of network OS is that it provides remote access to servers, and protects the data from unauthorized access. And, the drawback of this OS is that it is quite expensive, and requires regular updates and maintenance.
Overview of Network OS
- Primarily designed to manage and coordinate network activities.
- Can serve multiple users who are working on the same network.
- Has features like security rules, user administration, and data backups.
- Supports data sharing among network users.
- Examples – Novell NetWare, Microsoft Windows Server, and Linux.
5. Real-time operating system
The real-time OS is also known as embedded OS and serves real-time systems. Following are the types of real-time OS.
1. Hard real-time operating system
The hard real-time OS includes diagnosis control systems and automobile control systems. In these systems, delays are not at all acceptable because of their serious nature. The scheduling time is predefined, and the tasks must be completed in the allocated time itself.
2. Soft real-time operating system
The soft real-time OS includes smartphones and data management. Here, delays are acceptable to a certain extent. The deadline for tasks is assigned, and important tasks are prioritized over less important tasks.
3. Firm real-time operating system
The firm real-time OS includes robotic assembly lines and financial forecast systems. Here, the missed deadlines can result in unpredictable outputs, directly impacting the quality of service.
The advantage of the real-time OS is that it makes the most of the resources and produces accurate results. And, the tasks are performed in a predefined time frame using priority-based scheduling. The disadvantage of this OS is that it cannot switch tasks easily, making it impossible to set thread priority. Furthermore, there are complexities in the used algorithms.
Overview of Real-time OS
- Designed to process data within a specific time frame.
- Prioritizes tasks based on their urgency.
- Used in real-time applications like embedded systems, medical imaging, industrial control systems.
- Must be highly reliable and predictable in nature.
6. Mobile operating system
You run various applications on your smartphones. Have you ever wondered how you are able to run these applications on your devices? The credit goes to the mobile OS that makes this possible. It allows you to download your favorite applications that are compatible with it.
A few of the available OS are Android by Google, iOS by Apple, Windows OS by Microsoft, Blackberry OS by Research in Motion, Tizen and Bada by Samsung, and Symbian OS by Nokia. Maybe, some of these names are new for you, but everyone must have heard about Android and iOS as they are the biggest mobile OS.
Overview of Mobile OS
- Designed specifically for mobile devices.
- Wireless communication, mobile applications, and touch-screen input are supported.
- Built to manage power efficiently and offer a user-friendly interface.
- Provides features like synchronization with PCs, web browsing, and media playbacks.
- Examples – Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.
Comparison of different OS types
|Operating System Type||User Interaction||Resource Management||Scalability||Task Prioritization||Application Area|
|Batch Operating System||Low||Batches Jobs||Limited||Non-interactive||Large Data Processing|
|Distributed Operating System||High||Across Network Machines||High||Depends on Requirement||Networked Environments|
|Time-sharing Operating System||High||Time Slices||Moderate||First-Come, First-Serve||Large Scale Computers|
|Network Operating System||Moderate||Network-based||High||Depends on Network Needs||Networking Tasks|
|Real-time Operating System||Varies||Time Critical||Moderate||Urgency Based||Critical Systems|
|Mobile Operating System||High||Device Specific||Limited||User-Focused||Mobile Devices|
When the operating system comes to mind, by default, most of them think about Android, iOS, Windows, and Linux. In this discussion, we saw OS is more than that. Depending on the functionality of the devices, the OS is designed. Earlier, we had computers that ran without operating systems.
It was only after the mid-20th century that the first operating system was made. And, since then, many operating systems have been developed and will keep developing. There are quite a lot of tasks that OS performs, right from processor management to error detection, which is why it will always be at the core of devices.