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Thursday, March 4, 2010

types of OS

The computer industry, complicated and ever changing as it is, can boast of quite a number of Operating systems (OS), system software that enables communication between computer hardware and any other software that might be installed on the computer system. An OS type is defined by how it relates to the time factor, functionality (tasking), number of simultaneous users and level of manipulation. The above noted, we could speak of OS types such as
• Real-time Operating Systems
• Multi-user and Single user Operating systems
• Multi-tasking and single-tasking Operating systems
• Distributed Operated systems
• Embedded Operating system
It should however be noted that a particular OS may employ characteristics of two or more types of OS to maximise functionality and portability. At this point I would opt to write about multi-user operating systems.
A multi-user operating system ensures that more than one user operates the computer system at any one particular time. Resources of the computer system are so managed in a way that allows for speedy execution of operations by any one user in a way that gives an individual user the impression that he/she is the only one using the computer system at that particular time.
From the above, one is correct to bear in mind that for such an OS to work properly, the system must have good computing speed to ensure maximum computer time for each individual user, possess enough system memory to store the operations of each user, proper networking of the workstations involved (though some systems have done away with the use of workstations and instead operates using user accounts existing on the same system).
Use of a multi-user OS comes with a number of advantages such as reduction in hardware and software cost through shared resources, better system control through use of usernames and passwords that improves system security, though system breach becomes far more costly.
To end, it is worth mentioning that many of the popular operating systems available today are examples of multi-user OS. These include the Apple’s Mac OS, Microsoft’s Windows and almost all the UNIX distributions including Linux, Sun’s Solaris, etc.

Slater, Robert, Portraits in Silicon, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1992., 11-02-2010, 11-02-2010, 11-02-2010

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