Objective category: Operating systems

Computers.OS (C.OS.*)


iEssential functions of operating systems

Related course materials

Objective group FUNC: Essential functions of operating systems

Objective group Objective ID Objective text
FUNC: Essential functions of operating systems C.OS.FUNC.1: System utilities Researching tools as needed, classify nearly every system utility program included in both a MS Windows or Linux under one or more of the core group of OS functions and justify your placements by explaining a use case for each.
C.OS.FUNC.2: System status assessment Interpret data from an operating system resource monitor utility to declare a system's resource use status and potential in terms of memory, CPU horsepower, disk I/O, and network bandwidth.
C.OS.FUNC.3: File essentials Access information about a given file's type, size, owner/permissions, associated programs, and compression status. Interpret that file's metadata to correctly and safely carry out routine file-related tasks (e.g. open/execute, move, rename, compress, etc.)


Video overview

Part of the Crash Course video course set, this series is hosted by Carrie Anne Philbin (Cambridge) ext

Diagram-rich slide deck

Created by Prof Jonathan Walpole at Portland State University, this Class 2 slide deck ext provides OS fundamentals with just enough description to be useful. You can also browse the whole course listing (but sadly without descriptive file titles)

Complete OS Course lecture notes!

Wikipedia: The Source of Sources

extension Locating the OS among other computer components

The operating system (OS) is often called the "platform" of a computer because it provides the resources that all software applications require to do their particular jobs. For example, a media player like VLC Player requires an operating system to retrieve sound files from the hard drive, send sound signals to the speakers, and receive instructions from the user.

The following diagram shows the relationship between a computer's hardware components, its operating system, and the application packages that run "on top of" that operating system.

Operating systems connect applications (programs) with system hardware resources, such as disk drives, networks, and user input/output components. Because all applications rely on the operating system, it is often called the "platform". Common operating systems include Linux, the Microsoft Corporation's Windows, and the Apple Corporations OSX.

How are programs and operating systems connected?

Every operation we perform on a computer interacts with the computer's operating system because the programs we use rely on the OS to interface with the hardware components. This feature of computer architecture is critically important because it allows application programmers (folks who write software, such as an Internet browser) to "not worry" about how the computer carries out very basic tasks, like retrieving a file from the hard drive, and instead focus on making the program's core functions work correctly.

Why would I need to know about the operating system?

The operating system manages many computer resources and settings that matter to every computer user ranging from controlling who can access the computer's resources and files, starting and shutting down the system, configuring "look-and-feel" settings such as the desktop background, the color of the icons, and more.

The OS of a computer also manages which software is installed, where its files are located, and coordinates how the various programs which run on a computer can share resources such as the processor, the RAM, disk drives, and more.


Core functions of operating systems

Breakdown of operating system core functions

core functions of an operating system
To simplify the diagram, many interrelationships between OS functions were not drawn. For example, the security-related operations of an OS are seen in file access restrictions which are actually implemented by the File System managers. Yet another: device drivers are pieces of software that connect applications to hardware. They are both part of an OS's role as I/O device manager and processes manager.

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