Classification of Operating Systems

Classification of OS
Functions of OS
Key components
OS Architecture
Family of OS
Useful Links



Operating systems can be divided broadly into four types, based on the computers they control and applications they support.

Real time O S :

       This type of operating systems are used to control Scientific devices and similar small instruments where memory and resources are crucial. These type of devices have very limited or no end user utilities , so more effort should go into making the OS really memory efficient and fast (less coding), so as to minimize the execution time ,in turn saving on power as well.

E x : VHDL, 8086 etc.

   Image of Xilinx processor for which VHDL code is extensively used as operating system. Ref for the figure.

Single User single Task:

       This type of OS is just better version of Real time OS ,where one User can use the computer to do one thing at a time, which means that doing thing more than one thing at a time is difficult in this type of OS. The handhelds or the palmtop computers are good examples of this type of systems.

E x : Windows mobile etc.

  The look of windows mobile being decorated in a mobile Phone cum PDA. Ref

Single User Multi Task:

      This is the most common type of operating system used today. Microsoft windows and Apple Macintosh are the living examples of this Genre. These can perform Multi tasking operations, like for example playing a multimedia file, downloading a file from the internet and editing a Text file simultaneously.

E x: Windows vista, Mac X tiger etc.

       Typical look of windows screen. Ref

  Typical look of a MAC OS screen. Ref


Multi User :

         This type of operating systems allow multiple users to use the system resources simultaneously. This should not be confused with the multi user accounts in windows  or similar, the main difference being, the network administrator is the only actual user in Windows or Macs and one more difference being that in OS like Unix more than one user can simultaneously login while this is not possible in windows.

   E x: Unix, Linux, Solaris etc..

The look of a linux screen . Ref

Picture of a typical Solaris screen Ref

     The above being the main criterion for classification of operating systems, there will be other criterion as well, like basing on whether it is open code or not and whether it is available for free and similar.


Picture representing wisely used operating systems in the market Ref


Schematic showing the Usage of Different Operating systems Ref

     Other than these, we need to know that there will be separate operating systems when a bunch of computers are to be connected like windows NT which have few distinct features to make the networking of the computers simplified.

     We also have different operating systems for sever based applications where the security and versatility to modify the operating system to suit the given application weighs high over the user interface and efficient usage of the resources which are highlighted for the other applications.



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