What is an Operating System and Why is it Important



 

 


This section is an update of the similar section from the old DataBook for OS/2. It has been extensively rewritten to reflect today’s technology and the use of Linux rather than OS/2.

The operating system you use on your computer is as important—or more so—than the hardware you run it on. This section of the DataBook discusses operating systems, why they are important, and why Linux now is the best choice for an operating system—despite the fact that you cannot just go to the computer store and purchase a computer with Linux installed.

This chapter starts with a brief introduction to the concepts, functions, and purposes of operating systems. It covers the basic tasks which an operating system performs.

This section also shows why the operating system of your computer is important to you. The importance of multitasking is covered and how multitasking enables you to use your computer more effectively. The different operating systems on the market today are discussed along with brief comparisons.

Scalability is extremely important; running the same operating system from phones (‘Droid), to laptops, to servers, and even the most powerful supercomputers on the planet can make life much simpler for the network administrator or the IT manager. Linux is the only operating system on the market today which can provide that level of scalability.

The most important single choice you will make concerning your computer is that of the operating system which will create a useful tool out of it. Computers have no ability to do anything without software. If you turn on a computer which has no software program, it simply generates revenue for the electric company in return for adding a little heat to the room. There are far less expensive ways to heat a room.

The operating system is the first level of software which allows your computer to perform useful work.

Understanding the role of the operating system is key to making informed decisions about your computer.



 

 


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