ARTICLE: Operating System: Definition and Functions

The interface that makes the proper functionality of the computer for the user is called an operating system. The computer user experiences all the necessary tasks more accessible with the help of operating system. The tasks which become accessible are memory management, file management, handling input-output, security, error detecting aids, job accounting, coordination between other software and users, process management, control of peripheral devices such as printers and disk drives. These are the set of codes which aids the control, execution, of all the kinds of programs.

It is a part of the software. The term includes system software and application software. We all are aware of the examples of the operating system. These are windows, Linux, Unix, FORTRAN, VMS, OS/400, AIX, z/OS, and many more.

Number of users

We all know that there is no personalized operating system for all the computer users. They are available only in minuscule number. This implies that we have a few operating systems for the massive. N number of users can use a particular OS. Its examples are the proof in this context. These are just available in the fistful number.

Memory Management

In this both the types of memories, i.e. Primary Memory, and Main Memory comes under the function of memory management. The broad array of bytes or words has their address which we call as main memory. It is the memory which is responsible for the fast access to the storage which the central processing unit of the computer uses. Until the codes do not reach the main memory, its execution is not possible. Let us look at the following activities for memory management:

  1. It has to keep an eye on the functionality and the usage of primary memory.
  2. OS is the boss. When you have multiple programs to execute, it decides that which process will get memory at what priority level and how much.
  3. When it is the turn of a process for its execution, it needs memory. OS is the one to allocate it.
  4. Revoking or we can say de-allocation of the memory is also one of the tasks of the OS.

Processor Management

As we have seen that the OS manage the memory and allocate it to the process when it requests to do so, same goes here with the processor management function. The process of deciding the allocation of the processor to a method is called process scheduling. Also, it determines how much time every process should get the processor. In the processor management, OS performs the following activities-

  1. It acts as a traffic controller for the processors. It shows red and green light to them as per the priority. It keeps the tracks of the processor and their status.
  2. Responsible for the allocation of CPU to a process.
  3. When the processor has served its purpose for a process, OS de-allocates them.

Device Management

It is one of the myriads of functions of the OS. When there is the need of managing the device communication via their respective drivers, then the OS comes into the picture again. Also, it acts as an Input/ Output controller. It tracks all the devices. Along with this, it decides the process which will get the device, when and for how long.

When it comes to the allocation of the device efficiently, then also OS do its work. After the processes are done with their task, OS de-allocates the devices.

File Management

There is a substantial number of files available on the computer. They need proper organization. For this, OS manages the file system and divide the files into directories. This eases the navigation, and their usage becomes accessible. Also, along with the file management, it does the following activities to achieve the level of perfection.

  1. The location, user, and the status and their information are kept tracked by the OS of the system. These are known as a file system.
  2. Determines which file will get the resources.
  3. Resource allocation.
  4. Resource de-allocation.

What else the operating system does?

There are several other activities which the operating system performs. We will have a lookat them briefly.

  1. Secures the programs- It is the security guard of all the programs. It does this using passwords and the other techniques. Also, it keeps the computer away from the unauthorized access to the data and the programs.
  2. Accounts all the jobs- It accounts for the job activities and keep a timing track of the resources. Here, the resources are the ones which the various users of the programs are using.
  3. Have control over the system performance- Delays the time between the requested service and the response for the system.
  4. Aids in detecting errors- It has another essential feature of tracing, and production of dump messages. Also, it debugs and helps in identifying the faults.
  5. It is a coordinator as well- It coordinates the software and the users, one of the essential functions of the operating system. It does this with the help of the assessment of the compilers, interpreters, assemblers and much other software to the various users of the computer systems.

I have kept the language of the blog very simple. It is so that the students who find it difficult to learn the basics of the topic from the vast field of computer science can grasp the things by giving just a single read to the blog. I hope the content has served its purpose.

It was about the Operating System and the tasks which it performs. In the next blog, we will look at the types of the operating system.

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