Author: -. Link to original: http://pastebin.com/v1Yxcnws (English).

Translations of this material:

into Ukrainian: Операційні системи. 8% translated in draft.
Submitted for translation by prorok19961 22.06.2016
into Russian: Операционные системы. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by Jokero 22.03.2015


The OS (operating system) is the set of computer programs that allow the user to perform basic tasks like copying, moving, saving and printing files. It also provides an interface between (i.e. provides communication between) applications programs (e.g. wordprocessors or spreadsheets) and the computer hardware. As a user interacts with an applications program on the screen, the applications program communicates with the operating system and the operating system communicates with the computer hardware. The work of the operating system takes place in the background and is not always obvious to the user.

The most important program in an OS is the supervisor program. It remains in memory all the time that the computer is operating, and manages the OS. It loads other parts of the OS into memory when they are needed. Programs that remain in memory while the computer is in use are known as resident programs. Programs that only stay in memory while they are being used are known as non-¬resident programs.

Some operating systems are command driven (i.e. the user runs a program by typing a command). The screen is usually blank except for a symbol (e.g. $) which acts as a command prompt. When the command is typed at the prompt and the Enter key is pressed, the command is processed and the output is displayed on the screen. OS commands are usually short words or abbreviations (e.g., date, logout, passwd, Is).

Unix is a command driven operating system used on all sizes of computers, but mostly large multi-user, multi-tasking mainframe computers. It is available in many versions, such as Linux, Minix, HP-UX, Xenix, Venix, Ultrix, A/UX, AIX, Solaris, and PowerOpen. Other command driven operating systems mentioned in this unit include: VAX/VMS, MVS VM OS/390, NetWare, MS-DOS and PC-DOS.

Some operating systems have a GUI (pronounced like 'goo-ey' - graphical user interface) that allows the user to use a mouse to click on icons on the screen or choose commands from a list of choices known as a menu. Operating systems with graphical interfaces mentioned in this unit include: MacOS, OS/2, Penpoint, Windows NT, Windows 3.x, Windows 9X and Windows 2000.

Operating Systems: Hidden Software

When a brand new computer comes off the factory assembly line, it can do nothing. The hardware needs software to make it work. Are we talking about applications software such as wordprocessing or spreadsheet software? Partly. But an applications software package does not communicate directly with the hardware. Between the applications software and the hardware is a software interface - an operating system. An operating system is a set of programs that lies between applications software and the computer hardware.

The most important program in the operating system, the program that manages the operating system, is the supervisor program, most of which remains in memory and is thus referred to as resident. The supervisor controls the entire operating system and loads into memory other operating system programs (called non-resident) from disk storage only as needed.

An operating system has three main functions: (1) manage the computer's resources, such as the central processing unit, memory, disk drives, and printers, (2) establish a user interface, and (3) execute and provide services for applications software. Keep in mind, however, that much of the work of an operating system is hidden from the user. In particular, the first listed function, managing the computer's resources, is taken care of without the user being aware of the details. Furthermore, all input and output operations, although invoked by an applications program, are actually carried out by the operating system.

General Features of Operating Systems

An operating system is a master control program which controls the functions of the computer system as a whole and the running of application programs. All computers do not use the same operating systems. Some software being only designed to run under the control of specific operating systems, it is important to assess the operating system used on a particular model before initial commitment. Some operating systems are adopted as “industry standards” and these are the ones which should be evaluated because they normally have a good software base. The reason for this is that software houses are willing to expand resources on the development of application packages for machines functioning under the control of an operating system which is widely used. The cost of software could be lower in such circumstances as the development costs are spread over a greater number of users, both actual and potential.

Mainframe computers usually process several application programs concurrently switching from one to the other for the purpose of increasing processing productivity. This is known as multiprogramming (multi-tasking in the context of microcomputers), which requires a powerful operating systems incorporating work scheduling facilities to control the switching between programs. This entails that data are read for one program while the processor is performing computations on another and printing out results on yet another.

In multi-user environments an operating system is required to control terminal operations on a shared access basis as only one user can access the system at any moment of time. The operating system allocates control to each terminal in turn. Such systems also require a system for record locking and unlocking, to prevent one user attempting to read a record whilst another user is updating it, for instance. The first user is allocated control to write to a record (or file in some instances) and other users are denied access until the record is updated and unlocked.

Some environments operate in concurrent batch and real-time mode. This means that a “background” job deals with routine batch processing whilst the “foreground” job deals with real-time operations such as airline seat reservations, on-line booking of hotel accommodation, or control of warehouse stocks, etc. The real-time operation has priority, and the operating system interrupts batch processing to deal with real-time inquiries or file updates. The stage of batch processing attained at the time of the interrupt is temporarily transferred to backing storage. After the real-time operation has been dealt with, the interrupted program is transferred back to internal memory from backing storage. And processing recommences from a “restart” point. The operating system also copies to disk backing storage the state of the real-time system every few minutes (periodic check points) to provide a means of recovering the system in the event of a malfunction.

An operating system is stored on disk and has to be booted into the internal memory (RAM) where it must reside throughout processing so that commands are instantly available. The operating system commands may exceed the internal memory capacity of the computer in which case only that portion of the OS which is frequently used is retained internally, other modules being read in from disk as required. Many microcomputers function under the control of a disk operating system known as DOS.