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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
History of Operating System
3.
Features of the Operating System
3.1.
1. Protected and Supervisor Mode
3.2.
2. Program Execution
3.3.
3. Manipulation of the File System
3.4.
4. Handling I/O Operations
3.5.
5. Error Handling
3.6.
6. Resource Allocation
3.7.
7. Information and Resource Protection
4.
Functions of the Operating System
4.1.
1. File Management
4.2.
2. Process Management
4.3.
3. Device Management
4.4.
4. Booting
4.5.
5. Error Detection
4.6.
6. Coordination Between Other Software and Users
5.
Characteristics of Operating System
6.
Frequently Asked Questions
6.1.
How operating systems are in use everywhere in our society?
6.2.
What are the four major types of operating systems?
6.3.
What is the main feature of Windows operating system?
6.4.
How is the operating system made?
7.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Features of Operating System

Author Yashesvinee V
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Anubhav Sinha
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Introduction

The use of an Operating System today is a well-known fact to all of us. Without Operating systems, we can not handle computers the way we do. It manages everything required to provide the user with a hassle-free experience in computing. The various features of the operating system make sure that the multiple tasks of the user do not conflict and also provide security from all kinds of unwanted or unauthorized access. It takes over the control of managing the memory, files, and process execution, all on its own. 

Features of Operating System

History of Operating System

GMOS, the first operating system (OS), was developed in the early 1950s. The second generation of operating systems was in use from 1955 until 1965. It has a single-stream batch processing system as its foundation. 

The DEC PDP-1, which appeared in 1961, marked a new step in the minicomputer industry's amazing rise throughout the third generation. Third-generation operating systems (OS) were often considered batch operating systems. The emergence of the personal computer is connected to the fourth generation of operating systems.

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Features of the Operating System

The following are the important features of the Operating System:

1. Protected and Supervisor Mode

User mode is limited, whereas supervisor mode or kernel mode is unrestricted mode. All hardware instructions are legitimate in this mode of execution. When operating in kernel mode, you have total and (nearly) unrestricted control over your OS's hardware and software components.

2. Program Execution

Several tasks must be completed in order for the program to be executed. The main memory must be loaded with both the data and the instructions. The Operating System is in charge of controlling a program's execution. The program is performed after being loaded into memory.

 Various scheduling algorithms, including FCFC, SJF, and others, determine the order in which programs are executed. Additionally, files and input-output devices must be initialized, and other resources must be set up. The operating structures carry out these kinds of tasks.

3. Manipulation of the File System

The file management system in operating systems handles all file-related tasks, such as creating new files in a computer system and placing them at specific locations. It also helps quickly locate these files in the computer system and makes the process of sharing files among different users very easy. It helps manage directories according to their types of uses.

4. Handling I/O Operations

Device and I/O management constitute one of the most essential features of the operating system, without which there would be no interaction at all. It is similar to device management but only focuses on input and output devices. 

There are synchronous I/O devices for which the CPU waits for the I/O device and asynchronous I/O devices for which CPU execution takes place parallelly. It helps handle Special instruction I/O, Memory-mapped I/O, I/O mapped I/O and Direct Memory Access.

5. Error Handling

The reaction and recovery processes from error situations that are present in a software application are referred to as an OS error handling feature. The operating system continuously scans for potential mistakes. 

The operating system keeps an eye out for faults and takes appropriate action to prevent them with the least amount of disruption to currently running applications. In other words, it is the procedure for anticipating, detecting, and correcting communication, programming, and application failures.

6. Resource Allocation

The process through which an operating system tries to fulfil the system requirements of an application or process is known as resource allocation. When a programme needs resources, the operating system allows them; when the programs ends, the resources are released. 

It works with different hardware, memory (RAM), and secondary memory (Disc), allowing different programmes access to these resources.

7. Information and Resource Protection

The operating system protects the information and resources saved on the system by providing strong authorised keys to the user, securing the system against malware attacks. 

The operating system runs in supervisor mode and provides a strong firewall for the system. The operating system handles and corrects faults as quickly as feasible.

Functions of the Operating System

Below are mentioned some of the most crucial and notable functions of operating system:

1. File Management

The file management system in operating systems handles all file-related tasks, such as creating new files in a computer system and placing them at specific locations. It also helps quickly locate these files in the computer system and makes the process of sharing files among different users very easy. It helps manage directories according to their types of uses.

2. Process Management

The operating system successfully manages program execution without overlapping or time delays. The process management system assists OS in developing and eliminating processes, as well as providing mechanisms for communication and synchronization among numerous processes. It keeps track of the status of processes with the help of traffic controllers. It also allocates and deallocates the CPU at appropriate times.

3. Device Management

An operating system manages the device and printer control by allowing a proper flow. Disk management is used to track all system hardware and the resources used by various processes and users. It is one of the controller's responsibilities. Device management involves keeping track of all devices connected to the system. A designated program is responsible for every device, called the Input/output controller. It decides which process gets access to which device and for how long. It also de-allocates the devices when they are not required.

4. Booting

The initial set of tasks the computer carries out when turned on is known as the boot sequence. Each and every computer has a boot sequence. A computer's operating system is launched during the booting process when it is turned on. 

In other words, the operating system is loaded by a process known as bootstrapping or, in simple terms, booting. In order for the computer system to perform future operations, it will install system hardware by testing them and loading the operating system.

5. Error Detection

Error detection is another important task that the operating system handles. Both at the hardware and software levels, errors are detected. 
Hardware level: Each data transfer must be examined to ensure that data hasn't been corrupted in route. Every fact on that medium should be double-checked to ensure they have not been altered since they were written to the media.

Software level: Data consistency on the media should be examined at the software level, including whether the total number of allocated and unallocated storage blocks on the device matches the number of allocated and unallocated storage blocks.

It regularly checks the system for errors to locate or detect them and shields the system from them.

6. Coordination Between Other Software and Users

The operating system handles the coordination between different software and users. Assemblers, interpreters, compilers, and other software are directed at and distributed to various computer system users via the operating system (OS), which also permits the coordination of hardware components. 

Characteristics of Operating System

Following are the characteristics of operating system:

  • User Interface: Provides a user interface for interaction, which can be command-line, graphical, or both, allowing users to communicate with the computer.
     
  • Concurrency: Manages multiple processes or tasks concurrently, ensuring efficient utilization of system resources.
     
  • Memory Management: Allocates and deallocates memory for processes, managing the organization of both main memory (RAM) and secondary storage (e.g., hard drives).
     
  • File System Management: Organizes and controls the file system, including file creation, deletion, and access, ensuring data integrity and security.
     
  • Device Management: Controls and coordinates peripheral devices, such as printers, keyboards, and storage devices, ensuring proper communication with the computer. 
     
  • Security and Protection: Implements security measures to protect the system and data from unauthorized access, viruses, and other threats.
     
  • Process Management: Manages processes, including process creation, scheduling, and termination, to ensure the efficient execution of tasks.

Frequently Asked Questions

How operating systems are in use everywhere in our society?

Today, the operating system is used everywhere, including banks, schools, hospitals, businesses, mobile devices, etc. Without an operating system, no device can function because it manages all user commands. The bank uses the LINUX/UNIX operating system because it is a very safe operating system.

What are the four major types of operating systems?

The four major types are single-user, multi-user, single-tasking, and multi-tasking operating systems, each designed for specific use cases and functionalities.

What is the main feature of Windows operating system?

Windows is known for its user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI), providing ease of navigation and interaction for a wide range of users.

How is the operating system made?

The operating system consists of a kernel and various system programs that communicate with other programs and hardware through system calls. System calls are interfaces or methods provided by the OS to allow user-level programs to request services and perform privileged tasks. 

Conclusion

This article extensively discussed the features of Operating System. The features of an operating system form the backbone of computer functionality, orchestrating a harmonious interaction between hardware and software. From memory management to user interface design, security protocols, and multitasking capabilities, these features collectively define the efficiency, reliability, and usability of the computing environment. 

Recommended Readings: 

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