Operating Systems | Types of OS

on 06 August 2011

According to Wikipedia:

An operating system (OS) is software, consisting of programs and data, which manages computer hardware resources, and provides basic interface for execution of various application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system.

In simple language its a software that manages all of the hardware and all of the software.

Various managers of operating system are used to manage computer resources.

Operating Systems are basically designed with three goals:

  1. To efficiently manage resources of computer system like Input/Output device, memory, processor, process, files etc.
  2. To provide convenient environment to user so that they can interact with resources available with the computer system easily.
  3. To provide secure environment to users so that they can share resources and interact with other users of the system or on the network.

Types of Operating Systems:

There are generally seven types of OS, categorized based on the types of computers they control, response time, the sort of applications they support and how data is entered into the system. The categories are:

Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS)
Real time operating systems are fastest OS which are used in time-critical environments where data must be processed very quickly because the output influences immediate decisions. RTOS are used to control machinery, scientific instruments, industrial systems, sophisticated medical equipment, airport traffic, space flights and high speed aircraft. In general the users do not have much control over the functions performed by the RTOS.

Single User - Single Tasking OS
As the name implies, this operating system is designed to manage the computer so that one user can effectively do one thing at a time. This OS are also know as Embedded operating systems. This type of OS is used in personal digital assistants (PDAs) and advanced mobile phones.

symbian os

Single User - Multi-Tasking OS
This OS allows a single user to simultaneously run multiple applications on their computer. This is the type of operating system found on most personal desktop and laptop computers. The Windows (Microsoft) and Macintosh (Apple) platforms are the most popular single-user, multi-tasking OS.


Multi-User OS
A multi-user operating system simultaneously allows many different users to take advantage of the computer's resources. Unix, MVS, VMS are examples of a multi-user operating system.

Batch Processing OS
Batch systems date from the earliest computers, which relied on tape or punched cards for input. Data and programs that need to be processed were bundled and collected as a batch and executed together. Today batch systems aren't limited to cards or tapes, but the jobs are still processed serially, without user interaction.

Interactive OS
Interactive systems also called time-sharing systems give a faster turn-around than batch systems but are slower than the RTOS. They were introduced to satisfy the demands of users who needed fast turnaround when debugging their programs.

Hybrid OS
This type of systems are combination of both interactive and batch systems. They appear to be interactive because individual users can access the system via terminals and get fast response, but such system actually accepts and run batch programs in the background when the interactive load is light. Many large computer systems are hybrid.


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