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Functions of the Operating System

An operating system is a software component that acts as the core of a computer system. It performs various functions and is essentially the interface that connects your computer and its supported components. In this article, we will discuss the basic functions of the operating system, along with security concerns for the most popular types.  Also learn more about driver updates.

Basic Operation

Drivers play a major role in the operating system. A driver is a program designed to comprehend the functions of a particular device installed on the system. A driver enables the operation of numerous devices, including your mouse, keyboard printer, video card and CD-ROM drive by translating commands from the operating system or the user into commands understood by the associated component. It also translates responses from the component back to the operating system, software application or user.

The operating system performs other functions with system utilities that monitor performance,

debug errors and maintain the system. It also includes a set of libraries often used by applications to perform tasks to enable direct interaction with system components. These common functions run seamlessly and are transparent to most users.

Security Concerns

The fact that an operating system is computer software makes it prone to error just as any human creation. Programmers make mistakes, and inefficient code is often implemented into programs even after testing. Some developers perform more thorough testing and generally produce more efficient software. Therefore, some operating systems and more error prone while others are more secure.

Here are some common security issues that pose a threat to all operating systems:

Instabilities and Crashes - Both of these instances may be the result of software bugs in the operating system. Bugs in software applications on the computer may also cause problems, such as preventing the system from communicating with hardware devices. They can even cause the system to become unstable or crash. A system crash consists of freezing and becoming unresponsive to point where the machine needs to be rebooted. These issues vary depending on the type of operating system.

Flaws - Software bugs will not only make a system unstable, but also leave it wide open to unauthorized users. Once these vulnerabilities are discovered, attackers can exploit them and gain access to your system. From there, they can install malware, launch attacks on other machines or even take complete control of your system. Software developers usually distribute security patches rather quickly to update the operating system and fix the vulnerabilities.

Types of Operating Systems

There are several types of operating systems, with Windows, Linux and Macintosh suites being the most widely used. Here is an overview on each system:

Windows: Windows is the popular Microsoft brand preferred by most personal users. This system has come a long way from version 1.0 all the way up to the new Vista and soon to be released Windows 7. Although Windows has made strides in regard to security, it has a reputation for being one of the most vulnerable systems.

Unix/Linux: The Unix operating system has been around for years, and it is well known for its stability. Unix is often used more as a server than a workstation. Linux was based on the Unix system, with the source code being a part of GNU open-source project. Both systems are very secure yet far more complex than Windows.

Macintosh: Recent versions of the Macintosh operating system, including the Mac OS X, follow the secure architecture of Unix. Systems developed by Apple are efficient and easy to use, but can only function on Apple branded hardware.

 

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