Complete Definition of Operating System and the Types

Operating systems have an important role today in supporting the development of information technology. This is because almost all applications developed currently run on top of the operating system. The operating system is a program that controls all the functions that exist on a computer. The operating system becomes the basis of application development for users. In general, all operating systems have the following four functions.
  • Control of access to various hardware devices connected to the computer. (Hardware management)
  • File and folder management
  • Provision of user interface as a bridge between users and computer hardware (Management of user interaction)
  • User application management
Hardware Control
Access to various hardware connected to the computer is provided by the operating system through an application known as a driver. Each driver is made to control one hardware device.

This driver application installation is carried out by the operating system itself during installation or when the hardware is connected to the computer. The installation mechanism automatically when the device is connected is known as the Plug and Play (PnP).

File and Folder Management

This is made possible by the operating system because during the installation of the operating system there is a format for the hard disk. Through this process the hard disk space will be arranged in such a way that it has certain blocks for storing files. This process is similar to placing shelves in an empty room for later books. A file is a collection of blocks that are interrelated and have a name. Folder is a container that can contain files or other sub-folders. Each file associated with a computer program is placed in a separate folder to facilitate file searching.

Interaction Management

Users can use the computer through an application (installed) on the computer. Each application provides an interface to receive possible interactions from the user. There are two types of interfaces that can be used to interact with users, namely:

Command Line Interface (CLI)

User interaction with the system is done by typing a series of command sentences to be done by the computer.

CLI on Linux Ubuntu

Figure 1. Appearance of Applications with CLI on Linux Ubuntu

CLI on Windows

Figure 2. Appearance of Applications with CLI on Windows

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Here the user interaction is done through a set of menus and icons that can be chosen by the user to give various commands to the computer.

Windows Operating System GUI

Figure 3. Display the Windows Operating System GUI

GUI on Linux Ubuntu

Figure 4. Display the GUI on Linux Ubuntu

Application Management

Each application is run by the operating system by finding the location of the program file and moving its contents into memory to then send each command in the file to be run by a computer. The user application here is an application used by the user to accomplish a specific purpose. Management functions in this user application can include:
  • Install, the process of placing program files on a computer system including the configuration of the program.
  • Uninstall, the process for removing program files and configurations from a computer.
  • Update / Upgrade, the process of updating files from installed programs.
Besides having the management functions above, modern operating systems can also have the following capabilities:
  • Multi-user - two or more users can work together to share use of applications and resources such as printers at the same time.
  • Multi-tasking - the operating system can run more than one user application.
  • Multi-processing - the operating system can use more than one CPU (Central Processing Unit).
  • Multi-threading - each program can be broken down into threads which can then be run separately (parallel) by the operating system. This capability also includes part of multitasking in the application.

32-bit and 64-bit Operating Systems

There are two differences between 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.
  • 32-bit operating systems can only accept a maximum of 4 GB of RAM, while 64-bit operating systems can use more than 128 GB of RAM.
  • Memory management of 64-bit systems is also better, so it can run applications faster.
Windows, Ubuntu and OpenSuSE are some examples of operating systems that support 32-bit architecture.

Judging from its use the operating system can be divided into two major groups, namely:
  • Desktop operating systems, which are widely used in offices, Small Office / Home Office (SOHO), with a small number of users.
  • The network operating system, Network Operating System (NOS), is designed to be able to serve users in large numbers for various purposes and is widely used in large-scale companies.


Desktop operating systems have the following characteristics:
  • - Supports use by one user
  • - Share files and folders in a small network with minimal security
Currently on the market, the most widely used desktop operating system is divided into three major groups, namely Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac Os, and UNIX / Linux.

Microsoft Windows

It is a proprietary desktop operating system developed by Microsoft company with its founder Bill Gates. The first version of this operating system is Windows

1.01 was released in 1985. Windows 8.1 is the latest product from Microsoft's operating system, which was released in October 2013.

Apple Mac Os

Apple Mac Os is the same as Microsoft Windows, which is a proprietary operating system developed by Apple. This system is designed as a user-friendly operating system. The latest version of this system is a development of the UNIX operating system.

UNIX / Linux

UNIX, introduced in the late 1960s, is one of the oldest operating systems. The program code for this operating system is opened so that it can be adopted by various companies. From this UNIX now many new operating systems are born which are its derivatives. Linux is also a UNIX-derived operating system that both opens its program code to the public. Linux was first developed by Linus Torvalds and later versions

0.0.1 was released in 1991. Debian is a Linux distribution developed by the Debian community company. Debian 7 Wheezy, is the latest version of this Linux operating system. In addition to Debian there are many other Linux distributions such as Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenSuSE, and Slackware. Android as a mobile operating system also includes derivatives of the Linux operating system.


The network operating system has the following characteristics:
  • Supports use by more than one user
  • Running applications that can be used by more than one user
  • Stable (robust), which is unlikely to have an error in the program. Robustness is a term to indicate the ability of a computer system to handle problems that occur during use by the user.
  • Has a higher level of data security than desktop operating systems.
The following is a network operating system that is widely used today.
  • UNIX / Linux, this is the operating system most widely used as a server at this time, examples of network operating systems with linux include Red Hat, Caldera, SuSE, Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu and Slackware.
  • Novell Netware, in the 1980s, was the first operating system that met all the requirements for building a local computer network.
  • Microsoft Windows, still from the same company, Microsoft also released Windows Server as its network operating system, starting from the initial version of Windows Server 2000, to the last Windows Server 2012.
Close Source (Proprietary) Operating System Proprietary operating system is an operating system that is developed internally by a person, association or company. The proprietary operating systems are Windows and Mac Os.

Open Source Operating System (Open) Open Operating System is an operating system whose program code is open to the public so that it can be developed by others. Operating systems that are open include UNIX, Linux and its derivatives. Linux itself has many variants, such as Debian, Slackware, Redhat and SuSE. This variant is better known as a distro.

At the beginning of operating system development there were only a few. However, now there are very many in circulation. The following graph displays the development of the UNIX operating system and its derivatives from year to year.

Figure 5. History of the development of the UNIX operating system and its derivatives

From this history it can be seen that the two popular operating systems today, namely Linux and Mac Os are derivatives of the UNIX operating system. Until now the UNIX operating system continues to grow spawn new generations.


The existence of the operating system plays a very important role in the development of information technology. This is because almost all applications are currently running and require an operating system. There are many types of operating systems such as open operating systems (open source) and closed (proprietary).

Because there are no restrictions in the use of open operating systems can be developed and modified by many people or organizations. Variety of operating systems also currently very much, including those popular today are Windows, Mac Os, and Linux.