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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
What is Network Operating System?
3.
Functions of the Network Operating System
4.
Features of Network Operating System
5.
Examples of Network Operating Systems
6.
Types of Network Operating System
6.1.
1. Peer To Peer Network Operating System
6.1.1.
Advantages of Peer To Peer Network Operating System
6.1.2.
Disadvantages of Peer To Peer Network Operating System
6.2.
2. Client-Server Network Operating System
6.2.1.
Advantages of Client-Server Network Operating System
6.2.2.
Disadvantages of Client-Server Network Operating System
7.
Advantages of Network Operating Systems
8.
Disadvantages of Network Operating Systems
9.
Frequently Asked Questions
9.1.
What is network operating system with example?
9.2.
Is Linux a network operating system?
9.3.
What are 3 network operating systems?
10.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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What is a Network Operating System?

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Introduction

A computer has multiple components, such as input/output devices and a CPU. A computer understands machine language only, because of this, it is difficult for the user to interact with the computer directly. Therefore we use an operating system to make the interaction with the computer user-friendly. A network operating system is an operating system for computers that facilitates to connection and communication of various autonomous computers over a network. Network operating systems(NOS) mainly run on powerful computers that usually run the server program.

network operating system

What is Network Operating System?

An operating system that contains software and associated protocols to communicate with other autonomous computers is known as Network Operating System. An independent computer that has its own local memory, hardware, and operating system is referred to as an autonomous computer. The operating system allows devices such as disks, printers, etc., to be shared between computers. The individual computers that are a part of the network need to have their own operating system. The Network Operating System resides on the top of each machine. It provides security as it has authentication and access control functionality and is capable of managing the data, application, and other network functionalities. The major advantage of using a network operating system is that it facilitates sharing of resources and memory among the autonomous computers in the network. The Network OS allows one workstation to connect and securely communicate with another workstation. 

network operating system diagram

Functions of the Network Operating System

The functions of the Network Operating System are-

  1. Network Operating System provides protocol and processor support.
     
  2. It holds hardware detection.
     
  3. Network OS equips security features like authorizations, authentication, restrictions, and access control.
     
  4. In addition to that, it also has traits for file, printing, web service, and duplication.
     
  5. It has remote access.
     
  6. It provides provisions for system administration.
     
  7. WAN ports are also present.
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Features of Network Operating System

  • Network operating system offers file systems and database sharing
     
  • It uses user authentication and access control to provide security
     
  • It automatically creates a backup of data, so nothing gets lost
     
  • It supports inter-networking
     
  • It offers tools for network monitoring, performance analysis, and reporting to help administrators identify and resolve issues proactively
     
  • It is designed to work seamlessly with various hardware and software components, ensuring compatibility across the network infrastructure

Examples of Network Operating Systems

There are several network operating systems available. The examples are mentioned below:

  1. Windows Server: Microsoft's NOS is designed for Windows environments, offering features like Active Directory, file sharing, and DNS services
     
  2. Linux: While primarily a general-purpose OS, Linux can function as a network operating system when configured with networking packages and configurations
     
  3. Novell NetWare: A legacy NOS known for its robust networking capabilities, although it has become less prevalent in recent years
     
  4. macOS Server: Apple's NOS is designed for macOS environments, providing services like file sharing, user authentication, and remote access
     
  5. FreeBSD: An open-source NOS known for its stability and security features, often used in web server and network appliance setups
     

Also see, Difference Between Bit and Byte

Types of Network Operating System

Network Operating Systems are of two types, which are as follows:

1. Peer To Peer Network Operating System

In a peer-to-peer network, each system has the same capabilities and responsibilities, i.e., none of the systems in the network is superior to the other in terms of functionality. In simpler words, there is no master-slave relationship. All the nodes have an equal relationship and have a similar type of software that enables them to share resources. Thus, a peer-to-peer Network Operating System allows two or more computers to share their resources, such as printers, scanners, etc., to be accessible from each computer on the network. In this, each computer is like a workstation that is, they keep track of user accounts and security settings. There is no single computer that is in charge of the workgroup. Since there is no central login process, any user can use any shared resources once logged into a peer on the network. 

Advantages of Peer To Peer Network Operating System

  • No dedicated hardware is required
  • It does not require a dedicated network administrator to set up network policies.
  • It can be easily set up using a twisted pair cable
  • It is cost effective
     

Disadvantages of Peer To Peer Network Operating System

  • They are not much secure because they use share-level security 
  • Whole systems gets affected by the failure of any node in the system
  • There is no central control over the network
  • Each resource has its own password, which the user must remember to use that resource. Therefore the user needs to remember multiple passwords.

2. Client-Server Network Operating System

In the client-server network operating system, there is a single server known as the backend and multiple clients known as the frontend in the network. The Network Operating System is installed on the server machine, whereas the Client Operating System runs on the client machine. In this, the server machine acts as a centralized hub for all the client machines. The client machines generate requests for information or resources from the server, and the server machine, in turn, replies to the client machine by providing the required services in a secured manner. The server machine is capable of handling large calculations/operations and can administer the entire network and its resources. The Network Operating System can enhance the reach of client machines by providing remote access to the other nodes securely.
 

client server network operating system


One of the most common client-server applications is accessing a database from multiple computer systems on a network. In this, the database is stored on the server, and the queries are sent from the client machines and processed by the server. The query's result is sent across the network by the server back to the client.

Advantages of Client-Server Network Operating System

  • It has centralized data security; hence it's more secure.
  • It reduces the traffic as the work is divided among clients and server
  • It has the capability to cover large areas.
  • The server can be accessed remotely and from multiple platforms too.
     

Disadvantages of Client-Server Network Operating System

  • There is a requirement for a trained network administrator because security and performance are important issues in client-server networks.
  • Setting up a client-server network is costly.

Advantages of Network Operating Systems

There are several advantages of network operating systems:

  • They provide centralized control over network resources, simplifying administration and ensuring efficient resource utilization
     
  • They offer user authentication mechanisms, enhancing network security by controlling access to resources
     
  • They facilitate seamless file and print sharing among networked devices, enhancing collaboration
     
  • They can scale to accommodate growing networks and increased resource demands
     
  • They optimize resource allocation, ensuring efficient use of hardware and software

Disadvantages of Network Operating Systems

Along with the advantages, there are some disadvantages of network operating systems:

  • Their setups can be complex to configure and maintain, demanding specialized knowledge and skills
     
  • Licensing and support costs for proprietary NOS can be substantial for organizations
     
  • Their vulnerabilities can be exploited, posing security risks if not adequately protected
     
  • Compatibility issues may arise when integrating different NOS or network protocols
     
  • Their functionality can consume system resources, affecting overall performance if not appropriately managed

Frequently Asked Questions

What is network operating system with example?

A network operating system is software designed to manage and facilitate network operations. It provides essential functions like file and print sharing, user authentication, and network management. An example is Windows Server, which offers robust network services and is widely used in enterprise environments.

Is Linux a network operating system?

While Linux is primarily known as a general-purpose operating system, it can be configured to function as a network operating system. This is achieved by adding networking services and protocols, such as Samba for file and print sharing or configuring it as a server with network management tools.

What are 3 network operating systems?

Windows Server is Microsoft's network operating system, tailored for Windows environments, offering Active Directory, file sharing, and DNS services. Linux, a versatile general-purpose OS, can function as a network operating system with networking configurations. Novell NetWare, a legacy NOS with robust networking capabilities, has seen reduced usage in recent years.

Conclusion

In this article, we have extensively discussed the Network Operating System, its types, and its advantages & disadvantages.

Recommended Readings: 

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Happy Learning!

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