Operating Systems 1 – Introduction

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Hello my name is Shaun. Today I am going to explain the basics of an operating system so that you have an understanding of its desired purpose. We will be covering key concepts and definitions whilst briefly touching upon the essentials of operating systems.

So what is an operating system? In simple terms it is the chief program that manages all of the hardware and software. It has control of every process, file, section of memory and device. It is very important as it works as a middle man, making sure both hardware and software interact correctly.

Windows, Mac OS, Linux and UNIX are the big operating system contenders and all have their own advantages/disadvantages, but they are all based off the same concept.

There are 4 essential managers of every operating system and they all work together like a team to get jobs completed. The operating system works as their boss and makes sure they are all working in harmony.

  • The Memory Manager is in charge of the main memory. It scans every request for memory space and checks if it is valid. It allows allocation of memory spaces that are not taken up already. Memory spaces may need to be de-allocated to free up space for other requests.
  • The Process Manager decides how to allocate the brain of the computer (known as the central processing unit). It is necessary that the process manager keeps track of the status of each process. It has to handle jobs as they enter the system and manage each process that is associated with those jobs.
  • The Device Manager monitors every device, channel and control unit. It has to choose the most efficient way to allocate all of the system devices that are connected to the computer. USB sticks, printers and external hard drives are examples of this.
  • The File Manager checks every type of file that is on the system. This means data files, program files, compilers and installed applications. It sets permissions so that certain users can only see certain files. So when you log into your guest account you cannot browse through the administrator’s files as you do not have the permission to do so.

Another manager worth mentioning is the network manager. This provides a way for users to share hardware and software resources while also controlling the user’s access to them.

So we now understand how it works under the hood how do we (the user) interact with the operating system? We rely on the use of a user interface; this gives us a visual understanding of what we are trying to do when we interact with the system. So when you click and hold a file to move into a folder you’re making the managers work to carry out the request.

In the next few tutorials we will be digging deeper into managers and looking at how they work together. I have been Shaun and do not forget to subscribe to the SMKS channel.

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