An operating system (or 'OS') controls the general operation of a computer, and provides an easy way for us to interact with computers and run applications.
On some computers it is possible to run a choice of operating systems. Games consoles have their own unique operating systems.
There are a few common operating systems available:
- Mac OS X
- Android (based on Linux)
The operating system performs several key functions:
- interface - provides a user interface so it is easy to interact with the computer
- manages the CPU - runs applications and executes and cancels processes
- multi-tasks - allows multiple applications to run at the same time
- manages memory - transfers programs into and out of memory, allocates free space between programs, and keeps track of memory usage
- manages peripherals - opens, closes and writes to peripheral devices such as storage attached to the computer
- organises - creates a file system to organise files and directories
- security - provides security through user accounts and passwords
- utilities - provides tools for managing and organising hardware