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Operating System: Definition, Functions, Types, & Examples

Last updated: Jun 23, 2024

Operating System (OS)
Cover image: Illustration of operating system (OS).

What Is OS (Operating System)?

Have you ever wondered what is an operating system? In general, it is a software system that is created to help the communication between a computer's hardware and the various applications installed on it. 

Without system operations, computer users cannot run the hardware and must create their own programs. In addition, the operating system usually comes with the hardware of a new computer. 

In essence, the OS is the system that connects the hardware with the software and the user.


Operating System Functions

If you want to know what is OS, you need to first understand some of its functions. The system operations on a computer have various functions, such as:


1. Storing Applications and Programs

The first function of OS is to store applications and programs on the computer. Specifically, applications and programs have been installed on the operating system and will not be able to run if the system operations are not running.


2. Running Basic Programming

The next function of OS is to run basic programming on the computer. The system operations manage existing processes on the device, such as scheduling, creating, and stopping processes.


3. Displaying Pages on the Computer Screen

Apart from running programming, OS can also display pages on the screen in graphics, video, text, or audio according to what is available on the page. 


4. Controlling Device Functions

Now that you understand what is OS, you must understand that this system also works as a resource manager. 

In other words, it manages the performance of hardware devices, such as the CPU, hard disk, and memory card. 

Moreover, it is also designed to be a liaison between applications and hardware.


5. Organizing Files

Aside from controlling device functions, OS can also manage files on the computer, such as storing, managing, and accessing data. 

The following are the functions of the system operations as a file organizer:

  • File creation: Users can create new files and give them names and types. Users can use the user interface or a set of commands on the command line. 
  • File storage: After the user creates a file, the system operation stores the file on the hard drive or solid-state drive (SSD) according to the file system. 
  • File organization: Besides storing, the system operation also organizes files according to their respective structures and folders so that users can organize data by function, type, or other aspects. 


6. Maintain Program Security

The last function of OS is to keep the device safe from cyber threats, such as malware and external cybercrime. 

Types of OS

After learning about what is OS and its function, let's explore the following types of OS listed below:


1. Batch OS

The first type of system operation is Batch OS or Batch Processing System. This system does a lot of work automatically and in a predetermined order.

Additionally, it works alone in the background without any interaction from the user and usually works to process tasks with a long processing time.


2. Distributed OS

A distributed OS is a system that manages computer resources. In addition to understanding what is OS, you should know that distributed OS is spread across several networked computers.


3. Multitasking OS

This system operation allows users to run multiple applications simultaneously without having to close other applications when running a new application. This system can divide CPU time for running applications efficiently and smoothly.

4. Real-Time OS

Real-time OS is in charge of responding to events that occur in real-time to process applications quickly and scalably. 

In addition, this system prioritizes important work so that it can be done briefly and based on the user's preferences. 


5. Mobile OS

Apart from computers, system operations can also be designed for mobile phones, tablets, and other wearable devices. 

This system operation allows users to carry out several activities, such as sending messages, making calls, and more. Additionally, the examples of mobile OS commonly used on cell phones are iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.


Examples of Operating Systems

Below are examples of operating systems that are often found on computers.

1. Microsoft Windows

An example of an operating system is Microsoft Windows which was created in the mid-1980s.

There have been many versions of the Windows operating system since it was first launched, with the latest being Windows 11 which was released in 2021 and now has a Windows 11 update version 23H2 in 2023. 

Additionally, Windows stands out as the operating system with the broadest usage worldwide. The characteristics of Windows are as follows:

  • Easy-to-use user interface graphics. 
  • Supports many applications and software, such as work, business, and game programs. 
  • Flexible and can be used on a variety of hardware, such as computers, devices, and servers. 
  • Has a file management system that is easy for new users to use. 

2. Linux

This system operation is an open-source system whose program code can be modified by anyone, unlike Windows which can only be modified by the Windows company itself. 

In addition, Linux is available for free and has many variants to suit your needs. Linux has the following characteristics:

  • The code is accessible and can be modified by the user. 
  • Supports multitasking and multiuser.
  • Collaborates with many developer communities around the world. 
  • Has good security and stability so it is often used for server computers. 


3. macOS

Apple has its own OS commonly called macOS for their computer devices, such as Macintosh. 

Since its launch in 2001, macOS has had various updates the most recent one is macOS Sonoma in 2023. macOS has characteristics such as:

  • A clean and elegant visual user interface. 
  • Can integrate with other Apple products, such as iPad, Apple Watch, and iPhone. 
  • Has its own App Store that provides apps and software and can be downloaded directly for Mac devices. 
  • Has automatic backups.
  • Has its own browser called Safari. 
  • Has a good security system, such as Gatekeeper and FileVault. 
  • Has a virtual assistant called Siri.
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