Operating System and Its Components

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The hardware itself cannot perform specific calculations or manipulations without instruction on what to do and in what order to do them. Therefore, these instructions are just as important if not more important than the hardware, and they are referred to as software. Between the computer and the user, software acts as an interface. Composed by a programmer, it is a complete set of written instructions that allows, with or without data, the computer to solve a problem. To describe a single program or cluster of programs is what the term software is used for. Application and system software are the two main types of software. The programs that are used to manage your computer are referred to as system software; like for example, the operating system, which is the absolute most crucial software that is on your computer. The managing of your both your computers software and hardware resources is what operating system software executes.

Of all the programs that reside on a computer, the operating system covers the most indispensable set. While managing every single device that is connected to the PC it is also regulating the operations of the internal hardware. Keeping the software and hardware connected and offering other general services for computer programs. Without you needing to know how to speak the computers language it allows you to communicate with the computer. It monitors and records the execution of all other programs on your computer, including all other system software along with the application software. The most popular operating systems include iOS, MacOS, Linux and Windows. All of these operating systems are similar in some ways and incredibly different in other ways. You are required to have some sort of operating system on your device due to the fact that the lack of an operating system would make your computer pretty useless.

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The kernel is the piece of the OS that controls the most critical range of capabilities. It controls the way data and instructions are retrieved by the CPU and loaded from the memory (Reed, 2011). It remains within the main memory and is the first part of the OS to load when you are booting up your computer. While the kernel is providing the essential features required for the rest of the applications and operating system; it is important that it remains very small in size due to the fact that it does reside within the memory. To keep it from being overridden by other pieces of the OS or another program, it is usually put into a sector of memory that is highly protected. Multiple programs can be in the main memory simultaneously on multitasking machines thanks to the kernel; however really it is just giving the appearance of it being executed at the same time by switching back and forth at an incredibly fast rate. Besides the CPU and memory, controlling the data and flow of programs the kernel also deals with other hardware components including interaction with input/output devices and memory access for software applications. Every operating system has a kernel and a computer user will never directly interact with it.

Organizing storage into files and directories and just general management of the computers memory is accomplished by the file system. Keeping track of where each specific file is located in order to be accessed whenever they are needed (Gaddis, 2013). Without the file system, the data on the storage medium would be a large block of data and there would be no way to see where one part of the data stops and when the other begins. By dividing the data into parts and giving each part a name, the data can be easily separated and identified. A file is an accumulation of connected information that is stored in secondary storage or, a collection of logically related entities. The file is the smallest probable secondary storage allocation from the user’s perspective. The thing that makes retrieval easier for the user is a directory. This is when there are files that are labeled and organized together under a common name. They are hierarchical, which means that files and other directories can be stored inside a directory, this would be called a subdirectory or subfolder. An example of a directory/subdirectory would be having a folder label ‘school’ then within that folder having more folders labeled for each individual class where you could then continue to break it down further inside the class folder with specific lesson folders and that could just keep on going. The file system is an organizational tool that makes saving, storing, and accessing data simple for us and the computer.

A GUI (graphical user interface) is included in most operating systems to make interacting uncomplicated for the average computer user. Simplifying the ability to view files and executing programs a GUI uses intuitive visual elements (Reed, 2011). Most current GUIs are similar in behaviors and features though their appearance and organization may be different. In order for commands such as opening, moving, and deleting programs to be executed; the graphical interface utilizes windows, menus, and icons. Although the GUI operating system is mainly maneuvered by using the mouse, you can also use the keyboard by operating keyboard shortcuts or arrow keys. Icons, small pictures that symbolize what it will do when opened, are used to represent files, programs, and directories. For example, double-clicking over the program icon with the mouse cursor directly over it is how, in a GUI system, you would open the program. This is made even simpler on an iPhone, or any other touchscreen device, by just pressing your finger against the icon to open it. Graphical user interface operating systems are much more effortless to grasp over textual interfaces; due to the fact that you do not need to know a programming language and the memorization of commands is unnecessary. GUI operating systems dominate the current market due to their user-friendliness and modern appearance.

The operating system is without a doubt the most important part of system software. The operating system connects the software with the hardware and offers general services for computer programs. The kernel does a various number of important tasks including giving the computer multitasking abilities. The file system manages and stores memory making it possible for us to save and access files whenever we need to. Of course, the graphic user interface that allows the computer user to intuitively interact with the PC and is a key role of the operating system that we should not take for granted. The hardware of a computer would be unable to function without software therefore, the lack of an operating system would make your computer useless and that is what makes the operating system the most important part of software.

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