When you turn on your computer, a small “boot program” loads the operating system (OS), which is the primary control program of your device. While new system modules may be loaded as required, the central component of the OS, known as the kernel, always stays in memory (RAM).
The OS establishes the requirements for all computer application programs. Applications communicate with the OS to manage files and access user interfaces. Essentially, the operating system serves as a supervisor or executive in charge of several tasks, including:
- Managing hardware resources like processors, memory, and storage devices
- Providing a user experience through a graphical user interface (GUI) or command line
- Enforcing security protocols and managing access control
- Running applications and managing tasks and processes
The user interface of an operating system, whether GUI or command line, is the means by which users interact with their devices. While GUIs are more graphics-based and easier to navigate, command line interfaces are still in use and are preferred by programmers and power users who find them faster and more efficient for technical tasks.
What is an operating system?
An operating system is the primary control program of a computer that manages hardware resources, runs applications, provides a user interface, enforces security protocols, and manages tasks and processes.
What are the types of operating systems?
There are four main types of operating systems: desktop, server, mobile, and embedded. Desktop operating systems, such as Windows and macOS, are designed for personal computers. Server operating systems, like Linux and Windows Server, are designed to manage multiple users, data, and network resources. Mobile operating systems, such as iOS and Android, are designed for mobile devices. Embedded operating systems, such as those used in smart home devices or industrial machines, are designed for specific purposes and are integrated into the hardware.
What is the difference between a GUI and command line interface?
A graphical user interface (GUI) is a visual means by which users interact with their devices, while a command line interface is a text-based way of interacting with a device. GUIs are more graphics-based, visually pleasing, and easier to navigate, while command lines are faster and more efficient for technical tasks.
The operating system is the backbone of your computer. It is responsible for managing hardware resources, running applications, providing user interfaces, enforcing security, and managing tasks and processes. Understanding how your OS works will help you navigate your computer more efficiently and use its features to their full potential.