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EXPLAIN THE FUNCTIONS OF AN OPERATING SYSTEM

Functions of an Operating System Before we look closely at the functions of an operating system, let's review the purpose of an operating system. It is systems software, consisting of programs and data that manage computer hardware resources (like printers, monitors etc), and provides services to keep the applications running or performing as they should. An operating system therefore acts as an intermediary or a 'go between' between a user of a computer and the computer hardware. An operating system has the following functions:

File Management Memory Management Input/output Management Secondary Storage Management Process Management

File Management Since files are collections of documents or programs created by users, they need to be kept and stored so that they can be easily found. Files are usually given names so (1) that they can be located and (2) users know what types of files they are using such as word documents, excel files or a Paint Program. Format of a file Files are named so that the user knows where the file is located and what type of file it is, such as, the hard drive letter, folder or directory name, file name and file extension: Examples of file names include: C:/PROJECTS/Functions.doc Excel_SBA.xls Word_SBA.docx When managing files, the user also needs to know some information about the file such as the les type (e.g. excel file, word, file, graphics file),

the les size, in bytes who created the le, information about other potential users of this le, access constraints on the current user and other users, dates and times of creation, last access and last modication, dates and times of last backup and recovery

So, the operating system's responsibilities regarding file management include:


File creation and deletion. Directory or folder creation and deletion. Control over the creation, movement and deletion of files and folders. File backup on secondary storage media.

Memory Management

Memory management handles or manages primary memory to keep track of every memory location that is either allocated to some process or is free. It checks how much memory is to be allocated to a process and decides which process will get memory and at what time. It also tracks whenever memory becomes free or unallocated. A process can be swapped temporarily out of main memory to secondary storage and then brought back into memory for continued execution.

Typical secondary storage used is a hard disk drive or any other secondary storage which is fast in access and large enough to accommodate copies of all memory images. It must be capable of providing direct access to these memory images. Major time consuming part of swapping is the transfer time in swapping the process between main memory and secondary storage. Here is a video which explains a bit on memory management:

Security Management

If a computer program is used by an unauthorized user then he/she may cause severe damage to computer or data stored in it. Operating System security involves specified steps or procedures used to protect the Operating System from these unwanted access, viruses, worms, malware or remote hacker intrusions. Therefore many techniques are used to safeguard data from being stolen, edited or deleted if the operating system security is compromised. One method is to set passwords at many levels, from prompting you for a password when you system starts up, to using firewalls to keep viruses and hackers from accessing your work. Authentication is a security management method that identifies each user of the system and associates the executing programs with those users. It is the responsibility of the Operating System to create a protection system which ensures that a user who is running a particular program is authentic. Operating Systems generally identifies/authenticates users using following three ways:

Username / Password - enter a valid username and password to login into the system. User card/key - use a swipe card to login into the system. Biometrics - fingerprint/ eye retina pattern/ signature - User needs to scan body part over a special input device used by operating system to login into the system.

Input/Output Management A device driver is a program or routine developed for an input or output (I/O) device. The operating system must ensure that the devices are used correctly by the executing programs. For example:

A printer must be managed so that the printed material from two different programs belong to the correct documents and are not mixed together. A disk drive must be managed so that all programs get scheduled use of the disk for reads and writes.

User Interface

User interfaces are discussed in more detail in section 15.

Three types of user interfaces are: Command line user interface Graphical user interface Menu driven user interface

Process Management A process is a program in execution in a sequential manner. As a process executes, it changes state, and therefore its current activity must be noted at all times. A process can be in any one of the following states at any one time: New: the process is being created Ready: The process is waiting to be assigned to the processor so that it can be executed Running: Process instructions are being executed

Waiting: The process is waiting for some event to occur before it can continue (such as the completion of some other operation) Terminated: The process has finished running.