We have all heard about operating systems like Windows, Linux, Android, MAC etc. But, the question is What is operating system? What does it do? Why do we need it?
“An operating system is an interface between the user and the hardware.“
The hardware understands only binary language(0 and 1), so all the instructions must be passed in binary form but a normal user do not know this language. Then how can one interact with the system? Think of it like you know English and you want to interact with a person who knows French. Then, how is this possible? you need a Translator. Thus, OS acts as a translator which converts your commands that it receives via Applications (like MSWord or a web browser etc.) into binary language understood by the hardware and vice-versa.
Let’s suppose you want to add two numbers: c=a+b;
If you are working on MC6800 hardware then the instructions will be:
LDAA $80 – Loading the number at memory location 80
LDAB $81 – Loading the number at memory location 81
ADDB – Adding these two numbers
STAA $55 – Storing the sum to memory location 55
But the moment you hardware changes, for example, say to 8086 or 8088, all the above instructions will change, a problem!
Use any High Level Language like C.
The underlying hardware does not matter because OS takes care of convertion. Infact this is what we always do. Have we ever bothered what hardware are we using. Our focus is just writing the code correctly in C, C++, Python etc.
Can we use the system without installing an Operating System?
The use of operating system depends upon who is using it and what is the need in that particular scenario. Hence, there are different views. Broadly you can categorize them into
1. User view
2. System view
From a user’s point of view, the operating system should offer ease of use and performance. For example, Windows is very popular because it is very easy to use as it is having a graphical user interface. Similarly, Android became very popular and it became one of the reasons that Nokia’s Symbian OS lost its market value.
But from the system’s point of view, the OS should act as a Resource Manager, which means that the OS should be able to manage all the hardware resources in the system. Hence, all hardware should be used in the most efficient manner and the process should be kept waiting for a minimum amount of time if they require any resource.
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