An operating system (OS) is software that manages the computer’s resources. The operating system also runs application programs on a computer.
The operating system starts up during booting, which is the process that takes place when a computer is turned on. When the operating system is started up, it manages the computer’s software and hardware. All the programs running on the computer need access to its memory, storage, and central processing unit (CPU). The operating system helps coordinate the flow so that all the programs will function properly.
Most operating systems currently use a graphical user interface, a GUI (“gooey”). The GUI allows users to use a mouse and click on icons displayed on the screen with a combination of texts and graphics. Before GUIs was developed, users had to use command-line interface to communicate with the computer by typing in commands to computer and it only displayed text. DOS is a example of a command-line interface.
Popular operating systems include Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Unix, and Linux
Microsoft Windows is an operating system with a graphical user interface (GUI) developed by Microsoft. The first version, simply named Windows, was released on November 20, 1985 as a GUI to be used on top of the MS-DOS, Microsoft Disk Operating System. There have been many releases of Windows over the last few decades, with Windows 7 being the latest version. Windows usually comes pre-installed on most PCs, making it the most popular operating system worldwide.
The Mac OS is a line of GUI-based operating systems created by Apple Inc. for the Macintosh computers, Macs. Mac OS X is currently the newest OS that Apple has developed. It is a Unix-based system that runs on Macintosh computers since 2002. Eight versions of the Mac OS X have been released so far. The newest version is Mac OS X 10.7, codenamed Lion, was released in July 2011. Apple has announced that OS X 10.8 is to be released in late summer of 2012.
Unix is a multi-user platform developed by AT&T employees at Bell Labs in 1969. The software is the first open source OS developed. This means that anyone is able to modify and distribute the software, unlike proprietary software such as Windows and Mac OS, which can only be modified by the company that owns it. It is also the first software to be written in C language. Many companies, other than Microsoft, have used Unix as a standard base for their own operating systems.
Linux is a type of free open source operating system derived from Unix. There are many distributions, or versions, of Linux. Each one has a distinctive look and feel. The most popular distributions are Ubuntu, Fedora, and Mint.