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Operating system

An operating system (OS) is software, consisting of programs and data, that runs on computers, manages computer hardware resources, and provides common services for execution of various application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system. Without an operating system, a user cannot run an application program on their computer, unless the application program is self booting. For hardware functions such as input and output and memory allocation, the operating system acts as an intermediary between application programs and the computer hardware,[1][2] although the application code is usually executed directly by the hardware and will frequently call the OS or be interrupted by it. Operating systems are found on almost any device that contains a computerfrom cellular phones and video game consoles to supercomputers and web servers.
Examples of popular modern operating systems include Android, iOS, Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows.[3]

Types
Real-time A real-time operating system is a multitasking operating system that aims at executing real-time applications. Real-time operating systems often use specialized scheduling algorithms so that they can achieve a deterministic nature of behavior. The main objective of real-time operating systems is their quick and predictable response to events. They have an event-driven or timesharing design and often aspects of both. An event-driven system switches between tasks based on their priorities or external events while time-sharing operating systems switch tasks based on clock interrupts. Multi-user vs. Single-user A multi-user operating system allows multiple users to access a computer system concurrently. Time-sharing system can be classified as multi-user systems as they enable a multiple user access to a computer through the sharing of time. Single-user operating systems, as opposed to a multi-user operating system, are usable by a single user at a time. Being able to have multiple accounts on a Windows operating system does not make it a multi-user system. Rather, only the network administrator is the real user. But for a Unix-like operating system, it is possible for two users to login at a time and this capability of the OS makes it a multi-user operating system. Multi-tasking vs. Single-tasking When a single program is allowed to run at a time, the system is grouped under a single-tasking system, while in case the operating system allows the execution of multiple tasks at one time, it is classified as a multi-tasking operating system. Multi-tasking can be of two types namely, preemptive or co-operative. In pre-emptive multitasking, the operating system slices the CPU time

and dedicates one slot to each of the programs. Unix-like operating systems such as Solaris and Linux support pre-emptive multitasking. Cooperative multitasking is achieved by relying on each process to give time to the other processes in a defined manner. MS Windows prior to Windows 95 used to support cooperative multitasking. Distributed A distributed operating system manages a group of independent computers and makes them appear to be a single computer. The development of networked computers that could be linked and communicate with each other, gave rise to distributed computing. Distributed computations are carried out on more than one machine. When computers in a group work in cooperation, they make a distributed system. Embedded Embedded operating systems are designed to be used in embedded computer systems. They are designed to operate on small machines like PDAs with less autonomy. They are able to operate with a limited number of resources. They are very compact and extremely efficient by design. Windows CE and Minix 3 are some examples of embedded operating systems.

[edit] Summary
Early computers were built to perform a series of single tasks, like a calculator. Operating systems did not exist in their modern and more complex forms until the early 1960s.[4] Some operating system features were developed in the 1950s, such as monitor programs that could automatically run different application programs in succession to speed up processing. Hardware features were added that enabled use of runtime libraries, interrupts, and parallel processing. When personal computers by companies such as Apple Inc., Atari, IBM and Amiga became popular in the 1980s, vendors added operating system features that had previously become widely used on mainframe and mini computers. Later, many features such as graphical user interface were developed specifically for personal computer operating systems. An operating system consists of many parts. One of the most important components is the kernel, which controls low-level processes that the average user usually cannot see: it controls how memory is read and written, the order in which processes are executed, how information is received and sent by devices like the monitor, keyboard and mouse, and decides how to interpret information received from networks. The user interface is a component that interacts with the computer user directly, allowing them to control and use programs. The user interface may be graphical with icons and a desktop, or textual, with a command line. Application programming interfaces provide services and code libraries that let applications developers write modular code reusing well defined programming sequences in user space libraries or in the operating system itself. Which features are considered part of the operating system is defined differently in various operating systems. For example, Microsoft Windows considers its user interface to be part of the operating system, while many versions of Linux do not.

History
Main article: History of operating systems

In the 1940s, the earliest electronic digital systems had no operating systems. Electronic systems of this time were so primitive compared to those of today that instructions were often entered into the system one bit at a time on rows of mechanical switches or by jumper wires on plug boards. These were special-purpose systems that, for example, generated ballistics tables for the military or controlled the printing of payroll checks from data on punched paper cards. After programmable general purpose computers were invented, machine languages (consisting of strings of the binary digits 0 and 1 on punched paper tape) were introduced that speed up the programming process (Stern, 1981).

OS/360 was used on most IBM mainframe computers beginning in 1966, including the computers that helped NASA put a man on the moon.

In the early 1950s, a computer could execute only one program at a time. Each user had sole use of the computer for a limited period of time and would arrive at a scheduled time with program and data on punched paper cards and/or punched tape. The program would be loaded into the machine, and the machine would be set to work until the program completed or crashed. Programs could generally be debugged via a front panel using toggle switches and panel lights. It is said that Alan Turing was a master of this on the early Manchester Mark 1 machine, and he was already deriving the primitive conception of an operating system from the principles of the Universal Turing machine.[citation needed] Later machines came with libraries of software, which would be linked to a user's program to assist in operations such as input and output and generating computer code from human-readable symbolic code. This was the genesis of the modern-day operating system. However, machines

still ran a single job at a time. At Cambridge University in England the job queue was at one time a washing line from which tapes were hung with different colored clothes-pegs to indicate jobpriority.[citation needed]
[edit] Mainframes See also: History of IBM mainframe operating systems

Through the 1950s, many major features were pioneered in the field of operating systems, including batch processing, input/output interrupt, buffering, multitasking, spooling, runtime libraries, link-loading, and programs for sorting records in files. These features were included or not included in application software at the option of application programmers, rather than in a separate operating system used by all applications. In 1959 the SHARE Operating System was released as an integrated utility for the IBM 704, and later in the 709 and 7090 mainframes. During the 1960s, IBM's OS/360 introduced the concept of a single OS spanning an entire product line, which was crucial for the success of the System/360 machines. IBM's current mainframe operating systems are distant descendants of this original system and applications written for OS/360 can still be run on modern machines.[citation needed] In the mid-'70s, MVS, a descendant of OS/360, offered the first[citation needed] implementation of using RAM as a transparent cache for data. OS/360 also pioneered the concept that the operating system keeps track of all of the system resources that are used, including program and data space allocation in main memory and file space in secondary storage, and file locking during update. When the process is terminated for any reason, all of these resources are re-claimed by the operating system. The alternative CP-67 system for the S/360-67 started a whole line of IBM operating systems focused on the concept of virtual machines. Other operating systems used on IBM S/360 series mainframes included systems developed by IBM: COS/360 (Compatabililty Operating System), DOS/360 (Disk Operating System), TSS/360 (Time Sharing System), TOS/360 (Tape Operating System), BOS/360 (Basic Operating System), and ACP (Airline Control Program), as well as a few non-IBM systems: MTS (Michigan Terminal System), MUSIC (Multi-User System for Interactive Computing), and ORVYL (Stanford Timesharing System). Control Data Corporation developed the SCOPE operating system in the 1960s, for batch processing. In cooperation with the University of Minnesota, the Kronos and later the NOS operating systems were developed during the 1970s, which supported simultaneous batch and timesharing use. Like many commercial timesharing systems, its interface was an extension of the Dartmouth BASIC operating systems, one of the pioneering efforts in timesharing and programming languages. In the late 1970s, Control Data and the University of Illinois developed the PLATO operating system, which used plasma panel displays and long-distance time sharing networks. Plato was remarkably innovative for its time, featuring real-time chat, and multi-user graphical games. Burroughs Corporation introduced the B5000 in 1961 with the MCP, (Master Control Program) operating system. The B5000 was a stack machine designed to exclusively support high-level languages with no machine language or assembler, and indeed the MCP was the first OS to be written exclusively in a high-level language ESPOL, a dialect of ALGOL.

MCP also introduced many other ground-breaking innovations, such as being the first commercial implementation of virtual memory. During development of the AS400, IBM made an approach to Burroughs to licence MCP to run on the AS400 hardware. This proposal was declined by Burroughs management to protect its existing hardware production. MCP is still in use today in the Unisys ClearPath/MCP line of computers. UNIVAC, the first commercial computer manufacturer, produced a series of EXEC operating systems. Like all early main-frame systems, this was a batch-oriented system that managed magnetic drums, disks, card readers and line printers. In the 1970s, UNIVAC produced the RealTime Basic (RTB) system to support large-scale time sharing, also patterned after the Dartmouth BC system. General Electric and MIT developed General Electric Comprehensive Operating Supervisor (GECOS), which introduced the concept of ringed security privilege levels. After acquisition by Honeywell it was renamed to General Comprehensive Operating System (GCOS). Digital Equipment Corporation developed many operating systems for its various computer lines, including TOPS-10 and TOPS-20 time sharing systems for the 36-bit PDP-10 class systems. Prior to the widespread use of UNIX, TOPS-10 was a particularly popular system in universities, and in the early ARPANET community. In the late 1960s through the late 1970s, several hardware capabilities evolved that allowed similar or ported software to run on more than one system. Early systems had utilized microprogramming to implement features on their systems in order to permit different underlying architecture to appear to be the same as others in a series. In fact most 360s after the 360/40 (except the 360/165 and 360/168) were microprogrammed implementations. But soon other means of achieving application compatibility were proven to be more significant. The enormous investment in software for these systems made since 1960s caused most of the original computer manufacturers to continue to develop compatible operating systems along with the hardware. The notable supported mainframe operating systems include:

Burroughs MCP B5000, 1961 to Unisys Clearpath/MCP, present. IBM OS/360 IBM System/360, 1966 to IBM z/OS, present. IBM CP-67 IBM System/360, 1967 to IBM z/VM, present. UNIVAC EXEC 8 UNIVAC 1108, 1967, to OS 2200 Unisys Clearpath Dorado, present.

[edit] Microcomputers This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July
2010)

PC-DOS was an early personal computer OS that featured a command line interface.

Mac OS by Apple Computer became the first widespread OS to feature a graphical user interface. Many of its features such as windows and icons would later become commonplace in GUIs.

The first microcomputers did not have the capacity or need for the elaborate operating systems that had been developed for mainframes and minis; minimalistic operating systems were developed, often loaded from ROM and known as Monitors. One notable early disk-based operating system was CP/M, which was supported on many early microcomputers and was closely imitated in MS-DOS, which became wildly popular as the operating system chosen for the IBM PC (IBM's version of it was called IBM DOS or PC DOS), its successors making Microsoft. In the '80s Apple Computer Inc. (now Apple Inc.) abandoned its popular Apple II series of microcomputers to introduce the Apple Macintosh computer with an innovative Graphical User Interface (GUI) to the Mac OS. The introduction of the Intel 80386 CPU chip with 32-bit architecture and paging capabilities, provided personal computers with the ability to run multitasking operating systems like those of earlier minicomputers and mainframes. Microsoft responded to this progress by hiring Dave Cutler, who had developed the VMS operating system for Digital Equipment Corporation. He would lead the development of the Windows NT operating system, which continues to serve as the basis for Microsoft's operating systems line. Steve Jobs, a co-founder of Apple Inc., started NeXT Computer Inc., which developed the Unix-like NEXTSTEP operating system.

NEXTSTEP would later be acquired by Apple Inc. and used, along with code from FreeBSD as the core of Mac OS X. The GNU project was started by activist and programmer Richard Stallman with the goal of a complete free software replacement to the proprietary UNIX operating system. While the project was highly successful in duplicating the functionality of various parts of UNIX, development of the GNU Hurd kernel proved to be unproductive. In 1991, Finnish computer science student Linus Torvalds, with cooperation from volunteers collaborating over the Internet, released the first version of the Linux kernel. It was soon merged with the GNU user space components and system software to form a complete operating system. Since then, the combination of the two major components has usually been referred to as simply "Linux" by the software industry, a naming convention that Stallman and the Free Software Foundation remain opposed to, preferring the name GNU/Linux. The Berkeley Software Distribution, known as BSD, is the UNIX derivative distributed by the University of California, Berkeley, starting in the 1970s. Freely distributed and ported to many minicomputers, it eventually also gained a following for use on PCs, mainly as FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD.

[edit] Examples of operating systems


[edit] Unix and Unix-like operating systems

Evolution of Unix systems Main article: Unix

Ken Thompson wrote B, mainly based on BCPL, which he used to write Unix, based on his experience in the MULTICS project. B was replaced by C, and Unix developed into a large, complex family of inter-related operating systems which have been influential in every modern operating system (see History). The Unix-like family is a diverse group of operating systems, with several major sub-categories including System V, BSD, and GNU/Linux. The name "UNIX" is a trademark of The Open Group which licenses it for use with any operating system that has been shown to conform to their definitions. "Unix-like" is commonly used to refer to the large set of operating systems which resemble the original Unix.

Unix-like systems run on a wide variety of machine architectures. They are used heavily for servers in business, as well as workstations in academic and engineering environments. Free Unix variants, such as GNU/Linux and BSD, are popular in these areas. Four operating systems are certified by the The Open Group (holder of the Unix trademark) as Unix. HP's HP-UX and IBM's AIX are both descendants of the original System V Unix and are designed to run only on their respective vendor's hardware. In contrast, Sun Microsystems's Solaris Operating System can run on multiple types of hardware, including x86 and Sparc servers, and PCs. Apple's Mac OS X, a replacement for Apple's earlier (non-Unix) Mac OS, is a hybrid kernel-based BSD variant derived from NeXTSTEP, Mach, and FreeBSD. Unix interoperability was sought by establishing the POSIX standard. The POSIX standard can be applied to any operating system, although it was originally created for various Unix variants. [edit] BSD and its descendants

The first server for the World Wide Web ran on NeXTSTEP, based on BSD. Main article: Berkeley Software Distribution

A subgroup of the Unix family is the Berkeley Software Distribution family, which includes FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. These operating systems are most commonly found on webservers, although they can also function as a personal computer OS. The Internet owes much of its existence to BSD, as many of the protocols now commonly used by computers to connect, send and receive data over a network were widely implemented and refined in BSD. The world wide web was also first demonstrated on a number of computers running an OS based on BSD called NextStep. BSD has its roots in Unix. In 1974, University of California, Berkeley installed its first Unix system. Over time, students and staff in the computer science department there began adding new programs to make things easier, such as text editors. When Berkely received new VAX computers in 1978 with Unix installed, the school's undergraduates modified Unix even more in order to take advantage of the computer's hardware possibilities. The Defense Advanced

Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense took interest, and decided to fund the project. Many schools, corporations, and government organizations took notice and started to use Berkeley's version of Unix instead of the official one distributed by AT&T. Steve Jobs, upon leaving Apple Inc. in 1985, formed NeXT Inc., a company that manufactured high-end computers running on a variation of BSD called NeXTSTEP. One of these computers was used by Tim Berners-Lee as the first webserver to create the World Wide Web. Developers like Keith Bostic encouraged the project to replace any non-free code that originated with Bell Labs. Once this was done, however, AT&T sued. Eventually, after two years of legal disputes, the BSD project came out ahead and spawned a number of free derivatives, such as FreeBSD and NetBSD.
[edit] Mac OS X

The standard user interface of Mac OS X Main article: Mac OS X

Mac OS X is a line of partially proprietary graphical operating systems developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc., the latest of which is pre-loaded on all currently shipping Macintosh computers. Mac OS X is the successor to the original Mac OS, which had been Apple's primary operating system since 1984. Unlike its predecessor, Mac OS X is a UNIX operating system built on technology that had been developed at NeXT through the second half of the 1980s and up until Apple purchased the company in early 1997. The operating system was first released in 1999 as Mac OS X Server 1.0, with a desktop-oriented version (Mac OS X v10.0) following in March 2001. Since then, six more distinct "client" and "server" editions of Mac OS X have been released, the most recent being Mac OS X 10.7, which was first made available on July 20, 2011. Releases of Mac OS X are named after big cats; the current version of Mac OS X is "Lion". The server edition, Mac OS X Server, is architecturally identical to its desktop counterpart but usually runs on Apple's line of Macintosh server hardware. Mac OS X Server includes work group management and administration software tools that provide simplified access to key

network services, including a mail transfer agent, a Samba server, an LDAP server, a domain name server, and others. In Mac OS X v10.7 Lion, all server aspects of Mac OS X Server have been integrated into the client version.[5] [edit] Plan 9
Main article: Plan 9 from Bell Labs

Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy at Bell Labs designed and developed the C programming language to build the operating system Unix. Programmers at Bell Labs went on to develop Plan 9 and Inferno, which were engineered for modern distributed environments. Plan 9 was designed from the start to be a networked operating system, and had graphics built-in, unlike Unix, which added these features to the design later. It is currently released under the Lucent Public License. Inferno was sold to Vita Nuova Holdings and has been released under a GPL/MIT license. [edit] Linux and GNU
Main articles: GNU, Linux, and Linux kernel

Ubuntu, a common Linux distribution

Kubuntu, a common KDE desktop Linux distribution

Linux (or GNU/Linux) is a Unix-like operating system that was developed without any actual Unix code, unlike BSD and its variants. Linux can be used on a wide range of devices from supercomputers to wristwatches. The Linux kernel is released under an open source license, so anyone can read and modify its code. It has been modified to run on a large variety of electronics. Although estimates suggest that Linux is used on 1.82% of all personal computers,[6][7] it has been widely adopted for use in servers[8] and embedded systems[9] (such as cell phones). Linux has superseded Unix in most places[which?], and is used on the 10 most powerful supercomputers in the world.[10] The Linux kernel is used in some popular distributions, such as Red Hat, Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Google's Android. The GNU project is a mass collaboration of programmers who seek to create a completely free and open operating system that was similar to Unix but with completely original code. It was started in 1983 by Richard Stallman, and is responsible for many of the parts of most Linux variants. For this reason, some claim that the combined product of the Linux kernel and the GNU software collection is more correctly called GNU/Linux. Thousands of pieces of software for virtually every operating system are licensed under the GNU General Public License. Meanwhile, the Linux kernel began as a side project of Linus Torvalds, a university student from Finland. In 1991, Torvalds began work on it, and posted information about his project on a newsgroup for computer students and programmers. He received a wave of support and volunteers who ended up creating a full-fledged kernel. Programmers from GNU took notice, and members of both projects worked to integrate the finished GNU parts with the Linux kernel in order to create a full-fledged operating system.
[edit] Google Chrome OS

Main article: Google Chrome OS

Chrome is an operating system based on the Linux kernel and designed by Google. Since Chrome OS targets computer users who spend most of their time on the Internet, it is mainly a web browser with no ability to run applications. It relies on Internet applications (or Web apps) used in the web browser to accomplish tasks such as word processing and media viewing, as well as online storage for storing most files. [edit] AmigaOS

A screenshot of AmigaOS 4.1 Update 2. Main article: AmigaOS

AmigaOS is the default native operating system of the Amiga personal computer. It was developed first by Commodore International, and initially introduced in 1985 with the Amiga 1000. Early versions (1.0-3.9) run on the Motorola 68k series of 16-bit and 32-bit microprocessors, while the newer AmigaOS 4 runs only on PowerPC microprocessors. On top of a preemptive multitasking kernel called Exec, it includes an abstraction of the Amiga's unique hardware, a disk operating system called AmigaDOS, a windowing system API called Intuition and a graphical user interface called Workbench. A command line interface called AmigaShell is also available and integrated into the system. The GUI and the CLI complement each other and share the same privileges. The current holder of the Amiga intellectual properties is Amiga Inc. They oversaw the development of AmigaOS 4 but did not develop it themselves, contracting it instead to Hyperion Entertainment. On 20 December 2006, Amiga Inc terminated Hyperion's license to continue development of AmigaOS 4. However, in 30 September 2009, Hyperion was granted an exclusive, perpetual, worldwide right to AmigaOS 3.1 in order to use, develop, modify, commercialize, distribute and market AmigaOS 4.x and subsequent versions of AmigaOS (including AmigaOS 5).[11]
[edit] Microsoft Windows

Windows 7, shown here, is the newest release of Windows. Main article: Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows is a family of proprietary operating systems designed by Microsoft Corporation and primarily targeted to Intel architecture based computers, with an estimated 88.9 percent total usage share on Web connected computers.[12][13][14][7] Currently, the most widely used version of the Windows family is Windows XP,[15] released on October 25, 2001. The newest version is Windows 7 for workstations and Windows Server 2008 R2 for servers. Microsoft Windows originated in 1985 as an application running on top of MS-DOS, which was the standard operating system shipped on most Intel architecture personal computers at the time. In 1995, Windows 95 was released, combining MS-DOS 7.0 with Windows on the same medium, removing the need of getting a separate MS-DOS license. Keeping much legacy, it could run real-mode MS-DOS[16][17] and 16 bits Windows 3.x[18] drivers. Windows Me, released in 2000, was the latest version of Windows of the Windows 95 family. Later versions have all been based on the Windows NT kernel. Current versions of Windows run on IA-32 and x86-64 microprocessors, although Windows 8 will support ARM architecture. In the past, Windows NT supported a few non-Intel architectures. Server editions of Windows are widely used. In recent years, Microsoft has expended significant capital in an effort to promote the use of Windows as a server operating environment. However, Windows' usage on servers is not as widespread as on personal computers, as Windows competes against Linux and BSD for server market share.[19][20]
[edit] Other

Older operating systems which are still used in niche markets include OS/2 from IBM and Microsoft; Mac OS, the non-Unix precursor to Apple's Mac OS X; BeOS; XTS-300. Some, most notably Haiku, RISC OS, MorphOS and FreeMint continue to be developed as minority platforms for enthusiast communities and specialist applications. OpenVMS formerly from DEC, is still under active development by Hewlett-Packard. Yet other operating systems are used almost exclusively in academia, for operating systems education or to do research on operating system concepts. A typical example of a system that fulfills both roles is MINIX, while for example Singularity is used purely for research.

[edit] Components
The components of an operating system all exist in order to make the different parts of a computer work together. All softwarefrom financial databases to film editorsneeds to go through the operating system in order to use any of the hardware, whether it be as simple as a mouse or keyboard or complex as an Internet connection.

[edit] Kernel

A kernel connects the application software to the hardware of a computer. Main article: Kernel (computing)

With the aid of the firmware and device drivers, the kernel provides the most basic level of control over all of the computer's hardware devices. It manages memory access for programs in the RAM, it determines which programs get access to which hardware resources, it sets up or resets the CPU's operating states for optimal operation at all times, and it organizes the data for long-term non-volatile storage with file systems on such media as disks, tapes, flash memory, etc. [edit] Program execution
Main article: Process (computing)

The operating system provides an interface between an application program and the computer hardware, so that an application program can interact with the hardware only by obeying rules and procedures programmed into the operating system. The operating system is also a set of services which simplify development and execution of application programs. Executing an application program involves the creation of a process by the operating system kernel which assigns memory space and other resources, establishes a priority for the process in multi-tasking systems, loads program binary code into memory, and initiates execution of the application program which then interacts with the user and with hardware devices. [edit] Interrupts
Main article: Interrupt

Interrupts are central to operating systems, as they provide an efficient way for the operating system to interact with and react to its environment. The alternative having the operating system "watch" the various sources of input for events (polling) that require action can be found in older systems with very small stacks (50 or 60 bytes) but are unusual in modern systems with large stacks. Interrupt-based programming is directly supported by most modern CPUs.

Interrupts provide a computer with a way of automatically saving local register contexts, and running specific code in response to events. Even very basic computers support hardware interrupts, and allow the programmer to specify code which may be run when that event takes place. When an interrupt is received, the computer's hardware automatically suspends whatever program is currently running, saves its status, and runs computer code previously associated with the interrupt; this is analogous to placing a bookmark in a book in response to a phone call. In modern operating systems, interrupts are handled by the operating system's kernel. Interrupts may come from either the computer's hardware or from the running program. When a hardware device triggers an interrupt, the operating system's kernel decides how to deal with this event, generally by running some processing code. The amount of code being run depends on the priority of the interrupt (for example: a person usually responds to a smoke detector alarm before answering the phone). The processing of hardware interrupts is a task that is usually delegated to software called device driver, which may be either part of the operating system's kernel, part of another program, or both. Device drivers may then relay information to a running program by various means. A program may also trigger an interrupt to the operating system. If a program wishes to access hardware for example, it may interrupt the operating system's kernel, which causes control to be passed back to the kernel. The kernel will then process the request. If a program wishes additional resources (or wishes to shed resources) such as memory, it will trigger an interrupt to get the kernel's attention. [edit] Modes
Main articles: Protected mode and Supervisor mode

Privilege rings for the x86 available in protected mode. Operating systems determine which processes run in each mode.

Modern CPUs support multiple modes of operation. CPUs with this capability use at least two modes: protected mode and supervisor mode. The supervisor mode is used by the operating system's kernel for low level tasks that need unrestricted access to hardware, such as controlling how memory is written and erased, and communication with devices like graphics cards. Protected mode, in contrast, is used for almost everything else. Applications operate within protected mode, and can only use hardware by communicating with the kernel, which controls everything in supervisor mode. CPUs might have other modes similar to protected mode as well, such as the virtual modes in order to emulate older processor types, such as 16-bit processors on a 32-bit one, or 32-bit processors on a 64-bit one. When a computer first starts up, it is automatically running in supervisor mode. The first few programs to run on the computer, being the BIOS or EFI, bootloader, and the operating system have unlimited access to hardware - and this is required because, by definition, initializing a protected environment can only be done outside of one. However, when the operating system passes control to another program, it can place the CPU into protected mode. In protected mode, programs may have access to a more limited set of the CPU's instructions. A user program may leave protected mode only by triggering an interrupt, causing control to be passed back to the kernel. In this way the operating system can maintain exclusive control over things like access to hardware and memory. The term "protected mode resource" generally refers to one or more CPU registers, which contain information that the running program isn't allowed to alter. Attempts to alter these resources generally causes a switch to supervisor mode, where the operating system can deal with the illegal operation the program was attempting (for example, by killing the program). [edit] Memory management
Main article: Memory management

Among other things, a multiprogramming operating system kernel must be responsible for managing all system memory which is currently in use by programs. This ensures that a program does not interfere with memory already used by another program. Since programs time share, each program must have independent access to memory. Cooperative memory management, used by many early operating systems, assumes that all programs make voluntary use of the kernel's memory manager, and do not exceed their allocated memory. This system of memory management is almost never seen any more, since programs often contain bugs which can cause them to exceed their allocated memory. If a program fails, it may cause memory used by one or more other programs to be affected or overwritten. Malicious programs or viruses may purposefully alter another program's memory, or may affect the operation of the operating system itself. With cooperative memory management, it takes only one misbehaved program to crash the system. Memory protection enables the kernel to limit a process' access to the computer's memory. Various methods of memory protection exist, including memory segmentation and paging. All

methods require some level of hardware support (such as the 80286 MMU), which doesn't exist in all computers. In both segmentation and paging, certain protected mode registers specify to the CPU what memory address it should allow a running program to access. Attempts to access other addresses will trigger an interrupt which will cause the CPU to re-enter supervisor mode, placing the kernel in charge. This is called a segmentation violation or Seg-V for short, and since it is both difficult to assign a meaningful result to such an operation, and because it is usually a sign of a misbehaving program, the kernel will generally resort to terminating the offending program, and will report the error. Windows 3.1-Me had some level of memory protection, but programs could easily circumvent the need to use it. A general protection fault would be produced, indicating a segmentation violation had occurred; however, the system would often crash anyway. [edit] Virtual memory
Main article: Virtual memory Further information: Page fault

Many operating systems can "trick" programs into using memory scattered around the hard disk and RAM as if it is one continuous chunk of memory, called virtual memory.

The use of virtual memory addressing (such as paging or segmentation) means that the kernel can choose what memory each program may use at any given time, allowing the operating system to use the same memory locations for multiple tasks. If a program tries to access memory that isn't in its current range of accessible memory, but nonetheless has been allocated to it, the kernel will be interrupted in the same way as it would if the program were to exceed its allocated memory. (See section on memory management.) Under UNIX this kind of interrupt is referred to as a page fault. When the kernel detects a page fault it will generally adjust the virtual memory range of the program which triggered it, granting it access to the memory requested. This gives the kernel discretionary power over where a particular application's memory is stored, or even whether or not it has actually been allocated yet. In modern operating systems, memory which is accessed less frequently can be temporarily stored on disk or other media to make that space available for use by other programs. This is called swapping, as an area of memory can be used by multiple programs, and what that memory area contains can be swapped or exchanged on demand. [edit] Multitasking
Main articles: Computer multitasking and Process management (computing) Further information: Context switch, Preemptive multitasking, and Cooperative multitasking

Multitasking refers to the running of multiple independent computer programs on the same computer; giving the appearance that it is performing the tasks at the same time. Since most computers can do at most one or two things at one time, this is generally done via time-sharing, which means that each program uses a share of the computer's time to execute. An operating system kernel contains a piece of software called a scheduler which determines how much time each program will spend executing, and in which order execution control should be passed to programs. Control is passed to a process by the kernel, which allows the program access to the CPU and memory. Later, control is returned to the kernel through some mechanism, so that another program may be allowed to use the CPU. This so-called passing of control between the kernel and applications is called a context switch. An early model which governed the allocation of time to programs was called cooperative multitasking. In this model, when control is passed to a program by the kernel, it may execute for as long as it wants before explicitly returning control to the kernel. This means that a malicious or malfunctioning program may not only prevent any other programs from using the CPU, but it can hang the entire system if it enters an infinite loop.

Modern operating systems extend the concepts of application preemption to device drivers and kernel code, so that the operating system has preemptive control over internal run-times as well. The philosophy governing preemptive multitasking is that of ensuring that all programs are given regular time on the CPU. This implies that all programs must be limited in how much time they are allowed to spend on the CPU without being interrupted. To accomplish this, modern operating system kernels make use of a timed interrupt. A protected mode timer is set by the kernel which triggers a return to supervisor mode after the specified time has elapsed. (See above sections on Interrupts and Dual Mode Operation.) On many single user operating systems cooperative multitasking is perfectly adequate, as home computers generally run a small number of well tested programs. Windows NT was the first version of Microsoft Windows which enforced preemptive multitasking, but it didn't reach the home user market until Windows XP (since Windows NT was targeted at professionals). [edit] Disk access and file systems
Main article: Virtual file system

Filesystems allow users and programs to organize and sort files on a computer, often through the use of directories (or "folders")

Access to data stored on disks is a central feature of all operating systems. Computers store data on disks using files, which are structured in specific ways in order to allow for faster access, higher reliability, and to make better use out of the drive's available space. The specific way in which files are stored on a disk is called a file system, and enables files to have names and attributes. It also allows them to be stored in a hierarchy of directories or folders arranged in a directory tree. Early operating systems generally supported a single type of disk drive and only one kind of file system. Early file systems were limited in their capacity, speed, and in the kinds of file names and directory structures they could use. These limitations often reflected limitations in the operating systems they were designed for, making it very difficult for an operating system to support more than one file system.

While many simpler operating systems support a limited range of options for accessing storage systems, operating systems like UNIX and GNU/Linux support a technology known as a virtual file system or VFS. An operating system such as UNIX supports a wide array of storage devices, regardless of their design or file systems, allowing them to be accessed through a common application programming interface (API). This makes it unnecessary for programs to have any knowledge about the device they are accessing. A VFS allows the operating system to provide programs with access to an unlimited number of devices with an infinite variety of file systems installed on them, through the use of specific device drivers and file system drivers. A connected storage device, such as a hard drive, is accessed through a device driver. The device driver understands the specific language of the drive and is able to translate that language into a standard language used by the operating system to access all disk drives. On UNIX, this is the language of block devices. When the kernel has an appropriate device driver in place, it can then access the contents of the disk drive in raw format, which may contain one or more file systems. A file system driver is used to translate the commands used to access each specific file system into a standard set of commands that the operating system can use to talk to all file systems. Programs can then deal with these file systems on the basis of filenames, and directories/folders, contained within a hierarchical structure. They can create, delete, open, and close files, as well as gather various information about them, including access permissions, size, free space, and creation and modification dates. Various differences between file systems make supporting all file systems difficult. Allowed characters in file names, case sensitivity, and the presence of various kinds of file attributes makes the implementation of a single interface for every file system a daunting task. Operating systems tend to recommend using (and so support natively) file systems specifically designed for them; for example, NTFS in Windows and ext3 and ReiserFS in GNU/Linux. However, in practice, third party drives are usually available to give support for the most widely used file systems in most general-purpose operating systems (for example, NTFS is available in GNU/Linux through NTFS-3g, and ext2/3 and ReiserFS are available in Windows through FSdriver and rfstool). Support for file systems is highly varied among modern operating systems, although there are several common file systems which almost all operating systems include support and drivers for. Operating systems vary on file system support and on the disk formats they may be installed on. Under Windows, each file system is usually limited in application to certain media; for example, CDs must use ISO 9660 or UDF, and as of Windows Vista, NTFS is the only file system which the operating system can be installed on. It is possible to install GNU/Linux onto many types of file systems. Unlike other operating systems, GNU/Linux and UNIX allow any file system to be used regardless of the media it is stored in, whether it is a hard drive, a disc (CD,DVD...), a USB flash drive, or even contained within a file located on another file system. [edit] Device drivers
Main article: Device driver

A device driver is a specific type of computer software developed to allow interaction with hardware devices. Typically this constitutes an interface for communicating with the device, through the specific computer bus or communications subsystem that the hardware is connected to, providing commands to and/or receiving data from the device, and on the other end, the requisite interfaces to the operating system and software applications. It is a specialized hardware-dependent computer program which is also operating system specific that enables another program, typically an operating system or applications software package or computer program running under the operating system kernel, to interact transparently with a hardware device, and usually provides the requisite interrupt handling necessary for any necessary asynchronous time-dependent hardware interfacing needs. The key design goal of device drivers is abstraction. Every model of hardware (even within the same class of device) is different. Newer models also are released by manufacturers that provide more reliable or better performance and these newer models are often controlled differently. Computers and their operating systems cannot be expected to know how to control every device, both now and in the future. To solve this problem, operating systems essentially dictate how every type of device should be controlled. The function of the device driver is then to translate these operating system mandated function calls into device specific calls. In theory a new device, which is controlled in a new manner, should function correctly if a suitable driver is available. This new driver will ensure that the device appears to operate as usual from the operating system's point of view. Under versions of Windows before Vista and versions of Linux before 2.6, all driver execution was co-operative, meaning that if a driver entered an infinite loop it would freeze the system. More recent revisions of these operating systems incorporate kernel preemption, where the kernel interrupts the driver to give it tasks, and then separates itself from the process until it receives a response from the device driver, or gives it more tasks to do.
[edit] Networking Main article: Computer network

Currently most operating systems support a variety of networking protocols, hardware, and applications for using them. This means that computers running dissimilar operating systems can participate in a common network for sharing resources such as computing, files, printers, and scanners using either wired or wireless connections. Networks can essentially allow a computer's operating system to access the resources of a remote computer to support the same functions as it could if those resources were connected directly to the local computer. This includes everything from simple communication, to using networked file systems or even sharing another computer's graphics or sound hardware. Some network services allow the resources of a computer to be accessed transparently, such as SSH which allows networked users direct access to a computer's command line interface. Client/server networking involves a program on a computer somewhere which connects via a network to another computer, called a server. Servers offer (or host) various services to other network computers and users. These services are usually provided through ports or numbered access points beyond the server's network address[disambiguation needed]. Each port number is usually

associated with a maximum of one running program, which is responsible for handling requests to that port. A daemon, being a user program, can in turn access the local hardware resources of that computer by passing requests to the operating system kernel. Many operating systems support one or more vendor-specific or open networking protocols as well, for example, SNA on IBM systems, DECnet on systems from Digital Equipment Corporation, and Microsoft-specific protocols (SMB) on Windows. Specific protocols for specific tasks may also be supported such as NFS for file access. Protocols like ESound, or esd can be easily extended over the network to provide sound from local applications, on a remote system's sound hardware.
[edit] Security Main article: Computer security

A computer being secure depends on a number of technologies working properly. A modern operating system provides access to a number of resources, which are available to software running on the system, and to external devices like networks via the kernel. The operating system must be capable of distinguishing between requests which should be allowed to be processed, and others which should not be processed. While some systems may simply distinguish between "privileged" and "non-privileged", systems commonly have a form of requester identity, such as a user name. To establish identity there may be a process of authentication. Often a username must be quoted, and each username may have a password. Other methods of authentication, such as magnetic cards or biometric data, might be used instead. In some cases, especially connections from the network, resources may be accessed with no authentication at all (such as reading files over a network share). Also covered by the concept of requester identity is authorization; the particular services and resources accessible by the requester once logged into a system are tied to either the requester's user account or to the variously configured groups of users to which the requester belongs. In addition to the allow/disallow model of security, a system with a high level of security will also offer auditing options. These would allow tracking of requests for access to resources (such as, "who has been reading this file?"). Internal security, or security from an already running program is only possible if all possibly harmful requests must be carried out through interrupts to the operating system kernel. If programs can directly access hardware and resources, they cannot be secured. External security involves a request from outside the computer, such as a login at a connected console or some kind of network connection. External requests are often passed through device drivers to the operating system's kernel, where they can be passed onto applications, or carried out directly. Security of operating systems has long been a concern because of highly sensitive data held on computers, both of a commercial and military nature. The United States Government Department of Defense (DoD) created the Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria (TCSEC) which is a standard that sets basic requirements for assessing the effectiveness of security. This became of vital importance to operating system makers, because the TCSEC

was used to evaluate, classify and select computer systems being considered for the processing, storage and retrieval of sensitive or classified information. Network services include offerings such as file sharing, print services, email, web sites, and file transfer protocols (FTP), most of which can have compromised security. At the front line of security are hardware devices known as firewalls or intrusion detection/prevention systems. At the operating system level, there are a number of software firewalls available, as well as intrusion detection/prevention systems. Most modern operating systems include a software firewall, which is enabled by default. A software firewall can be configured to allow or deny network traffic to or from a service or application running on the operating system. Therefore, one can install and be running an insecure service, such as Telnet or FTP, and not have to be threatened by a security breach because the firewall would deny all traffic trying to connect to the service on that port. An alternative strategy, and the only sandbox strategy available in systems that do not meet the Popek and Goldberg virtualization requirements, is the operating system not running user programs as native code, but instead either emulates a processor or provides a host for a p-code based system such as Java. Internal security is especially relevant for multi-user systems; it allows each user of the system to have private files that the other users cannot tamper with or read. Internal security is also vital if auditing is to be of any use, since a program can potentially bypass the operating system, inclusive of bypassing auditing.
[edit] User interface

A screenshot of the Bourne Again Shell command line. Each command is typed out after the 'prompt', and then its output appears below, working its way down the screen. The current command prompt is at the bottom.

A screenshot of the KDE graphical user interface. Programs take the form of images on the screen, and the files, folders (directories), and applications take the form of icons and symbols. A mouse is used to navigate the computer. Main article: User interface

Every computer that is to be operated by an individual requires a user interface. The user interface is not actually a part of the operating systemit generally runs in a separate program usually referred to as a shell, but is essential if human interaction is to be supported. The user interface requests services from the operating system that will acquire data from input hardware devices, such as a keyboard, mouse or credit card reader, and requests operating system services to display prompts, status messages and such on output hardware devices, such as a video monitor or printer. The two most common forms of a user interface have historically been the command-line interface, where computer commands are typed out line-by-line, and the graphical user interface, where a visual environment (most commonly with windows, buttons, icons and a mouse pointer) is present. [edit] Graphical user interfaces Most of the modern computer systems support graphical user interfaces (GUI), and often include them. In some computer systems, such as the original implementation of Mac OS, the GUI is integrated into the kernel. While technically a graphical user interface is not an operating system service, incorporating support for one into the operating system kernel can allow the GUI to be more responsive by reducing the number of context switches required for the GUI to perform its output functions. Other operating systems are modular, separating the graphics subsystem from the kernel and the Operating System. In the 1980s UNIX, VMS and many others had operating systems that were built this way. GNU/Linux and Mac OS X are also built this way. Modern releases of Microsoft Windows such as Windows Vista implement a graphics subsystem that is mostly in user-space; however the graphics drawing routines of versions between Windows NT 4.0 and Windows Server 2003 exist mostly in kernel space. Windows 9x had very little distinction between the interface and the kernel. Many computer operating systems allow the user to install or create any user interface they desire. The X Window System in conjunction with GNOME or KDE is a commonly found setup

on most Unix and Unix-like (BSD, GNU/Linux, Solaris) systems. A number of Windows shell replacements have been released for Microsoft Windows, which offer alternatives to the included Windows shell, but the shell itself cannot be separated from Windows. Numerous Unix-based GUIs have existed over time, most derived from X11. Competition among the various vendors of Unix (HP, IBM, Sun) led to much fragmentation, though an effort to standardize in the 1990s to COSE and CDE failed for various reasons, and were eventually eclipsed by the widespread adoption of GNOME and KDE. Prior to free software-based toolkits and desktop environments, Motif was the prevalent toolkit/desktop combination (and was the basis upon which CDE was developed). Graphical user interfaces evolve over time. For example, Windows has modified its user interface almost every time a new major version of Windows is released, and the Mac OS GUI changed dramatically with the introduction of Mac OS X in 1999.[21]

[edit] Real-time operating systems


Main article: Real-time operating system

A real-time operating system (RTOS) is a multitasking operating system intended for applications with fixed deadlines (real-time computing). Such applications include some small embedded systems, automobile engine controllers, industrial robots, spacecraft, industrial control, and some large-scale computing systems. An early example of a large-scale real-time operating system was Transaction Processing Facility developed by American Airlines and IBM for the Sabre Airline Reservations System. Embedded systems that have fixed deadlines use a real-time operating system such as VxWorks, PikeOS, eCos, QNX, MontaVista Linux and RTLinux. Windows CE is a real-time operating system that shares similar APIs to desktop Windows but shares none of desktop Windows' codebase[citation needed]. Symbian OS also has an RTOS kernel (EKA2) starting with version 8.0b. Some embedded systems use operating systems such as Palm OS, BSD, and GNU/Linux, although such operating systems do not support real-time computing.

[edit] Operating system development as a hobby


Operating system development is one of the most complicated activities in which a computing hobbyist may engage. A hobby operating system may be classified as one whose code has not been directly derived from an existing operating system, and has few users and active developers. [22] In some cases, hobby development is in support of a "homebrew" computing device, for example, a simple single-board computer powered by a 6502 microprocessor. Or, development may be for an architecture already in widespread use. Operating system development may come from entirely new concepts, or may commence by modeling an existing operating system. In

either case, the hobbyist is his/her own developer, or may interact with a small and sometimes unstructured group of individuals who have like interests. Examples of a hobby operating system include ReactOS and Syllable.

[edit] Diversity of operating systems and portability


Application software is generally written for use on a specific operating system, and sometimes even for specific hardware. When porting the application to run on another OS, the functionality required by that application may be implemented differently by that OS (the names of functions, meaning of arguments, etc.) requiring the application to be adapted, changed, or otherwise maintained. This cost in supporting operating systems diversity can be avoided by instead writing applications against software platforms like Java, or Qt for web browsers. These abstractions have already borne the cost of adaptation to specific operating systems and their system libraries. Another approach is for operating system vendors to adopt standards. For example, POSIX and OS abstraction layers provide commonalities that reduce porting costs.

[edit]

Linux
Linux (commonly /lnks/ LIN-ks in English,[4][5] also pronounced /lnks/ LIN-uuks[6] in Europe) refers to the family of Unix-like computer operating systems using the Linux kernel.[7] Linux can be installed on a wide variety of computer hardware, ranging from mobile phones, tablet computers, routers and video game consoles, to desktop computers, mainframes and supercomputers.[8][9][10][11] Linux is a leading server operating system, and runs the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world.[12] The development of Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free and open source software collaboration; typically all the underlying source code can be used, freely modified, and redistributed, both commercially and non-commercially, by anyone under licenses such as the GNU General Public License. Typically Linux is packaged in a format known as a Linux distribution for desktop and server use. Some popular mainstream Linux distributions include Debian (and its derivatives such as Ubuntu), Fedora and openSUSE. Linux distributions include the Linux kernel, supporting utilities and libraries and usually a large amount of application software to fulfill the distribution's intended use. A distribution oriented toward desktop use may include the X Window System, the GNOME and KDE Plasma desktop environments. Other distributions may include a less resource intensive desktop such as LXDE or Xfce for use on older or less-powerful computers. A distribution intended to run as a server may omit any graphical environment from the standard install and instead include other software such as the Apache HTTP Server and a SSH server like OpenSSH. Because Linux is freely redistributable, it is possible for anyone to create a distribution for any intended use. Commonly used applications with desktop Linux systems include the Mozilla Firefox web browser, the OpenOffice.org or LibreOffice office application suites, and the GIMP image editor. The name "Linux" comes from the Linux kernel, originally written in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. The main supporting user space system tools and libraries from the GNU Project (announced in 1983 by Richard Stallman) are the basis for the Free Software Foundation's preferred name GNU/Linux.[13][14]

History
Main article: History of Linux [edit] Unix

The Unix operating system was conceived and implemented in 1969 at AT&T's Bell Laboratories in the United States by Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Douglas McIlroy, and Joe Ossanna. It was first released in 1971 and was initially entirely written in assembly language, a common practice at the time. Later, in a key pioneering approach in 1973, Unix was re-written in the programming language C by Dennis Ritchie (with exceptions to the kernel and I/O). The availability of an operating system written in a high-level language allowed easier portability to different computer platforms. With a legal glitch forcing AT&T to license the operating system's

source code to anyone who asked,[15] Unix quickly grew and became widely adopted by academic institutions and businesses. In 1984, AT&T divested itself of Bell Labs. Free of the legal glitch requiring free licensing, Bell Labs began selling Unix as a proprietary product.

Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU project [edit] GNU

The GNU Project, started in 1983 by Richard Stallman, had the goal of creating a "complete Unix-compatible software system" composed entirely of free software. Work began in 1984.[16] Later, in 1985, Stallman started the Free Software Foundation and wrote the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) in 1989. By the early 1990s, many of the programs required in an operating system (such as libraries, compilers, text editors, a Unix shell, and a windowing system) were completed, although low-level elements such as device drivers, daemons, and the kernel were stalled and incomplete.[17] Linus Torvalds has said that if the GNU kernel had been available at the time (1991), he would not have decided to write his own.[18]
[edit] BSD

Although not released until 1992 due to legal complications, development of 386BSD, from which NetBSD and FreeBSD descended, predated that of Linux. Linus Torvalds has said that if 386BSD had been available at the time, he probably would not have created Linux.[19]

[edit] MINIX

Andrew S. Tanenbaum (left), author of the MINIX operating system, and Linus Torvalds (right), principal author of the Linux kernel

MINIX is an inexpensive minimal Unix-like operating system, designed for education in computer science, written by Andrew S. Tanenbaum. Starting with version 3, MINIX was free and redesigned for serious use. In 1991 while attending the University of Helsinki, Torvalds, curious about the operating systems [20] and frustrated by the licensing of MINIX limiting it to educational use only (which prevented any commercial use), began to work on his own operating system which eventually became the Linux kernel. Torvalds began the development of the Linux kernel on MINIX, and applications written for MINIX were also used on Linux. Later Linux matured and it became possible for Linux to be developed under itself.[21] Also GNU applications replaced all MINIX ones, because with code from the GNU system freely available, it was advantageous if this could be used with the fledgling operating system. Code licensed under the GNU GPL can be used in other projects, so long as they also are released under the same or a compatible license. In order to make Linux available for commercial use, Torvalds initiated a switch from his original license (which prohibited commercial redistribution) to the GNU GPL.[22] Developers worked to integrate GNU components with Linux to make a fully functional and free operating system.[17]

[edit] Commercial and popular uptake

Ubuntu is a popular distribution of Linux Main article: Linux adoption

Today, Linux distributions are used in every domain, from embedded systems to supercomputers,[23][24] and have secured a place in server installations often using the popular LAMP application stack.[25] Use of Linux distributions in home and enterprise desktops has been growing.[26][27][28][29][30][31][32] They have also gained popularity with various local and national governments. The federal government of Brazil is well known for its support for Linux.[33][34] News of the Russian military creating its own Linux distribution has also surfaced, and has come to fruition as the G.H.ost Project.[35] The Indian state of Kerala has gone to the extent of mandating that all state high schools run Linux on their computers.[36][37] China uses Linux exclusively as the operating system for its Loongson processor family to achieve technology independence.[38] In Spain some regions have developed their own Linux distributions, which are widely used in education and official institutions, like gnuLinEx in Extremadura and Guadalinex in Andalusia. Portugal is also using its own Linux distribution Caixa Mgica, used in the Magalhes netbook[39] and the e-escola government program.[40] France and Germany have also taken steps toward the adoption of Linux.[41] Linux distributions have also become popular in the netbook market, with many devices such as the ASUS Eee PC and Acer Aspire One shipping with customized Linux distributions installed.[42]
[edit] Current development This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
(August 2011)

Torvalds continues to direct the development of the kernel. Stallman heads the Free Software Foundation, which in turn supports the GNU components. Finally, individuals and corporations develop third-party non-GNU components. These third-party components comprise a vast body of work and may include both kernel modules and user applications and libraries. Linux vendors

and communities combine and distribute the kernel, GNU components, and non-GNU components, with additional package management software in the form of Linux distributions.

[edit] Design
This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
(August 2011)

A Linux-based system is a modular Unix-like operating system. It derives much of its basic design from principles established in Unix during the 1970s and 1980s. Such a system uses a monolithic kernel, the Linux kernel, which handles process control, networking, and peripheral and file system access. Device drivers are either integrated directly with the kernel or added as modules loaded while the system is running. Separate projects that interface with the kernel provide much of the system's higher-level functionality. The GNU userland is an important part of most Linux-based systems, providing the most common implementation of the C library, a popular shell, and many of the common Unix tools which carry out many basic operating system tasks. The graphical user interface (or GUI) used by most Linux systems is built on top of an implementation of the X Window System.
[edit] User interface This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (August 2011) See also: User interface

Users operate a Linux-based system through a command line interface (CLI), a graphical user interface (GUI), or through controls attached to the associated hardware, which is common for embedded systems. For desktop systems, the default mode is usually a graphical user interface, by which the CLI is available through terminal emulator windows or on a separate virtual console. Most low-level Linux components, including the GNU userland, use the CLI exclusively. The CLI is particularly suited for automation of repetitive or delayed tasks, and provides very simple inter-process communication. A graphical terminal emulator program is often used to access the CLI from a Linux desktop. A Linux system typically implements a CLI by a shell, which is also the traditional way of interacting with a Unix system. A Linux distribution specialized for servers may use the CLI as its only interface. On desktop systems, the most popular user interfaces are the extensive desktop environments KDE Plasma Desktop, GNOME, and Xfce,[43] though a variety of additional user interfaces exist. Most popular user interfaces are based on the X Window System, often simply called "X". It provides network transparency and permits a graphical application running on one system to be displayed on another where a user may interact with the application.[44]

Other GUIs may be classified as simple X window managers, such as FVWM, Enlightenment, and Window Maker, which provide a minimalist functionality with respect to the desktop environments. A window manager provides a means to control the placement and appearance of individual application windows, and interacts with the X Window System. The desktop environments include window managers as part of their standard installations (Metacity for GNOME, Kwin for KDE, Xfwm for Xfce as of 2010) although users may choose to use a different window manager if preferred.

[edit] Development

A summarized history of Unix-like operating systems showing Linux's origins. Of note, Linux shares similar architectural designs and concepts (as part of the POSIX standard) but does not share non-free source code with the original Unix or MINIX. Main article: Linux distribution

The primary difference between Linux and many other popular contemporary operating systems is that the Linux kernel and other components are free and open source software. Linux is not the only such operating system, although it is by far the most widely used.[45] Some free and open source software licenses are based on the principle of copyleft, a kind of reciprocity: any work derived from a copyleft piece of software must also be copyleft itself. The most common free software license, the GNU GPL, is a form of copyleft, and is used for the Linux kernel and many of the components from the GNU project. Linux based distributions are intended by developers for interoperability with other operating systems and established computing standards. Linux systems adhere to POSIX,[46] SUS,[47] ISO, and ANSI standards where possible, although to date only one Linux distribution has been POSIX.1 certified, Linux-FT.[48] Free software projects, although developed in a collaborative fashion, are often produced independently of each other. The fact that the software licenses explicitly permit redistribution, however, provides a basis for larger scale projects that collect the software produced by standalone projects and make it available all at once in the form of a Linux distribution.

A Linux distribution, commonly called a "distro", is a project that manages a remote collection of system software and application software packages available for download and installation through a network connection. This allows the user to adapt the operating system to his/her specific needs. Distributions are maintained by individuals, loose-knit teams, volunteer organizations, and commercial entities. A distribution is responsible for the default configuration of the installed Linux kernel, general system security, and more generally integration of the different software packages into a coherent whole. Distributions typically use a package manager such as dpkg, Synaptic, YAST, or Portage to install, remove and update all of a system's software from one central location.
[edit] Community See also: Free software community and Linux User Group

A distribution is largely driven by its developer and user communities. Some vendors develop and fund their distributions on a volunteer basis, Debian being a well-known example. Others maintain a community version of their commercial distributions, as Red Hat does with Fedora and Novell does with openSUSE. In many cities and regions, local associations known as Linux User Groups (LUGs) seek to promote their preferred distribution and by extension free software. They hold meetings and provide free demonstrations, training, technical support, and operating system installation to new users. Many Internet communities also provide support to Linux users and developers. Most distributions and free software / open source projects have IRC chatrooms or newsgroups. Online forums are another means for support, with notable examples being LinuxQuestions.org and the various distribution specific support and community forums, such as ones for Ubuntu, Fedora, and Gentoo. Linux distributions host mailing lists; commonly there will be a specific topic such as usage or development for a given list. There are several technology websites with a Linux focus. Print magazines on Linux often include cover disks including software or even complete Linux distributions.[49][50] Although Linux distributions are generally available without charge, several large corporations sell, support, and contribute to the development of the components of the system and of free software. An analysis of the Linux kernel showed 75 percent of the code from December 2008 to January 2010 was developed by programmers working for corporations, leaving about 18 percent to the traditional, open source community.[51] Some of the major corporations that contribute include Dell, IBM, HP, Oracle, Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle), Novell, and Nokia. A number of corporations, notably Red Hat and Novell, have built a significant business around Linux distributions. The free software licenses, on which the various software packages of a distribution built on the Linux kernel are based, explicitly accommodate and encourage commercialization; the relationship between a Linux distribution as a whole and individual vendors may be seen as symbiotic. One common business model of commercial suppliers is charging for support, especially for business users. A number of companies also offer a specialized business version of

their distribution, which adds proprietary support packages and tools to administer higher numbers of installations or to simplify administrative tasks. Another business model is to give away the software in order to sell hardware. This used to be the norm in the computer industry, with operating systems such as CP/M, Apple DOS and versions of Mac OS prior to 7.5 freely copyable (but not modifiable). As computer hardware standardized throughout the 1980s, it became more difficult for hardware manufacturers to profit from this tactic, as the OS would run on any manufacturer's computer that shared the same architecture.
[edit] Programming on Linux

Linux distributions support dozens of programming languages. The most common collection of utilities for building both Linux applications and operating system programs is found within the GNU toolchain, which includes the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) and the GNU build system.[citation needed] Amongst others, GCC provides compilers for Ada, C, C++, Java, and Fortran. Proprietary compilers for Linux include the Intel C++ Compiler, Sun Studio, and IBM XL C/C++ Compiler. BASIC in the form of Visual Basic is supported in such forms as Gambas, FreeBASIC, and XBasic. Most distributions also include support for PHP, Perl, Ruby, Python and other dynamic languages. While not as common, Linux also supports C# (via Mono), Vala, and Scheme. A number of Java Virtual Machines and development kits run on Linux, including the original Sun Microsystems JVM (HotSpot), and IBM's J2SE RE, as well as many open-source projects like Kaffe and JikesRVM. The two main frameworks for developing graphical applications are those of GNOME and KDE.[citation needed] These projects are based on the GTK+ and Qt widget toolkits, respectively, which can also be used independently of the larger framework. Both support a wide variety of languages. There are a number of Integrated development environments available including Anjuta, Code::Blocks, CodeLite, Eclipse, Geany, ActiveState Komodo, KDevelop, Lazarus, MonoDevelop, NetBeans, Qt Creator and Omnis Studio, while the long-established editors Vim and Emacs remain popular.[52]

[edit] Uses
As well as those designed for general purpose use on desktops and servers, distributions may be specialized for different purposes including: computer architecture support, embedded systems, stability, security, localization to a specific region or language, targeting of specific user groups, support for real-time applications, or commitment to a given desktop environment. Furthermore, some distributions deliberately include only free software. Currently, over three hundred distributions are actively developed, with about a dozen distributions being most popular for general-purpose use.[53] Linux is a widely ported operating system kernel. The Linux kernel runs on a highly diverse range of computer architectures: in the hand-held ARM-based iPAQ and the mainframe IBM

System z9, System z10; in devices ranging from mobile phones to supercomputers.[54] Specialized distributions exist for less mainstream architectures. The ELKS kernel fork can run on Intel 8086 or Intel 80286 16-bit microprocessors, while the Clinux kernel fork may run on systems without a memory management unit. The kernel also runs on architectures that were only ever intended to use a manufacturer-created operating system, such as Macintosh computers (with both PowerPC and Intel processors), PDAs, video game consoles, portable music players, and mobile phones. There are several industry associations and hardware conferences devoted to maintaining and improving support for diverse hardware under Linux, such as FreedomHEC.
[edit] Desktop Main article: Desktop Linux

The popularity of Linux on standard desktop computers and laptops has been increasing over the years.[55] Currently most distributions include a graphical user environment, with the two most popular environments being GNOME (which can utilize additional shells such as the default GNOME Shell, the Ubuntu Unity), and the KDE Plasma Desktop. The performance of Linux on the desktop has been a controversial topic; for example in 2007 Con Kolivas accused the Linux community of favoring performance on servers. He quit Linux kernel development because he was frustrated with this lack of focus on the desktop, and then gave a "tell all" interview on the topic.[56] Since then a significant amount of development has been undertaken in an effort to improve the desktop experience. Projects such as Upstart aim for a faster boot time.[57] Many popular applications are available for a wide variety of operating systems. For example Mozilla Firefox, OpenOffice.org and Blender have downloadable versions for all major operating systems. Furthermore, some applications were initially developed for Linux, such as Pidgin, and GIMP, and were ported to other operating systems including Windows and Mac OS X due to their popularity. In addition, a growing number of proprietary desktop applications are also supported on Linux;[58] see List of proprietary software for Linux. In the field of animation and visual effects, most high end software, such as AutoDesk Maya, Softimage XSI and Apple Shake, is available for Linux, Windows and/or Mac OS X. There are also several companies that have ported their own or other companies' games to Linux. Many types of applications available for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X are also available for Linux. Commonly, either a free software application will exist which does the functions of an application found on another operating system, or that application will have a version that works on Linux, such as with Skype and some video games.[citation needed] Furthermore, the Wine project provides a Windows compatibility layer to run unmodified Windows applications on Linux. CrossOver is a proprietary solution based on the open source Wine project that supports running Windows versions of Microsoft Office, Intuit applications such as Quicken and QuickBooks, Adobe Photoshop versions through CS2, and many popular games such as World of Warcraft and Team Fortress 2. In other cases, where there is no Linux port of some software in areas such

as desktop publishing[59] and professional audio,[60][61][62] there is equivalent software available on Linux. The collaborative nature of free software development allows distributed teams to perform language localization of some Linux distributions for use in locales where localizing proprietary systems would not be cost-effective. For example the Sinhalese language version of the Knoppix distribution was available significantly before Microsoft Windows XP was translated to Sinhalese.[citation needed] In this case the Lanka Linux User Group played a major part in developing the localized system by combining the knowledge of university professors, linguists, and local developers. Installing, updating and removing software in Linux is typically done through the use of package managers such as the Synaptic Package Manager, PackageKit, and Yum Extender. While most major Linux distributions have extensive repositories, often containing tens of thousands of packages, not all the software that can run on Linux is available from the official repositories. Alternatively, users can install packages from unofficial repositories, download pre-compiled packages directly from websites, or compile the source code by themselves. All these methods come with different degrees of difficulty; compiling the source code is in general considered a challenging process for new Linux users, but it's hardly needed in modern distributions and is not a method specific to Linux.

GNOME Shell

KDE Plasma Desktop

Unity

Xfce

LXDE
[edit] Servers, mainframes and supercomputers

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jaguar supercomputer, until recently the world's fastest supercomputer. It uses the Cray Linux Environment as its operating system.[63][64]

Servers designed for Linux

Linux distributions have long been used as server operating systems, and have risen to prominence in that area; Netcraft reported in September 2006 that eight of the ten most reliable internet hosting companies ran Linux distributions on their web servers.[65] Since June 2008, Linux distributions represented five of the top ten, FreeBSD three of ten, and Microsoft two of ten;[66] since February 2010, Linux distributions represented six of the top ten, FreeBSD two of ten, and Microsoft one of ten.[67]

Linux distributions are the cornerstone of the LAMP server-software combination (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python) which has achieved popularity among developers, and which is one of the more common platforms for website hosting.[68] Linux distributions have become increasingly popular on mainframes in the last decade due to pricing, compared to other mainframe operating systems.[citation needed] In December 2009, computer giant IBM reported that it would predominantly market and sell mainframe-based Enterprise Linux Server.[69] Linux distributions are also commonly used as operating systems for supercomputers: since November 2010, out of the top 500 systems, 459 (91.8%) run a Linux distribution.[70] Linux was also selected as the operating system for the world's most powerful supercomputer, IBM's Sequoia which will become operational in 2011.[71]
[edit] Embedded devices See also: Embedded Linux and Linux devices

Home screen displayed on Android 2.3 "Gingerbread"

Due to its low cost and ease of customization, Linux is often used in embedded systems. Androidbased on a modified version of the Linux kernelhas become a major competitor of Nokia's older Symbian OS, found in many smartphones. During the third quarter of 2010, 25.5% of smartphones sold worldwide used Android (with all Linux variants forming 27.6% of the total during that time).[72] Cell phones and PDAs running Linux on open-source platforms became more common from 2007; examples include the Nokia N810, Openmoko's Neo1973, and the Motorola ROKR E8. Continuing the trend, Palm (later acquired by HP) produced a new Linuxderived operating system, webOS, which is built into its new line of Palm Pre smartphones. The popular TiVo digital video recorder also uses a customized Linux,[73] as do several network firewalls and routers from such makers as Cisco/Linksys. The Korg OASYS, the Korg KRONOS, the Yamaha Yamaha Motif XS/Motif XF music workstations,[74] Yamaha

S90XS/S70XS, Yamaha MOX6/MOX8 synthesizers, Yamaha Motif-Rack XS tone generator module, and Roland RD-700GX digital piano also run Linux. Linux is also used in stage lighting control systems, such as the WholeHogIII console.[75]
[edit] Market share and uptake Main article: Linux adoption

Usage share of web client operating systems. (Source: Median values from Usage share of operating systems for May 2011.) Windows XP (37.92%) Windows 7 (29.72%) Windows Vista (13.09%) Mac OS X (7.40%) iOS (2.80%) Linux (2.07%) See also: Usage share of operating systems

Many quantitative studies of free / open source software focus on topics including market share and reliability, with numerous studies specifically examining Linux.[76] The Linux market is growing rapidly, and the revenue of servers, desktops, and packaged software running Linux was expected to exceed $35.7 billion by 2008.[77] IDC's Q1 2007 report indicated that Linux held 12.7% of the overall server market at that time.[78] This estimate was based on the number of Linux servers sold by various companies, and did not include server hardware purchased separately which had Linux installed on it later. In

September 2008 Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that 60% of web-servers run Linux versus 40% that run Windows Server.[79] Primarily based on web server statistics, various companies estimated that the desktop market share of Linux range from less than 1% to 4.8%.[80] In comparison, Microsoft operating systems hold more than 85%.[26][27][28][29][30][31][32][81][82] Analysts and proponents attribute the relative success of Linux to its security, reliability, low cost, and freedom from vendor lock-in.[83][84][not in citation given] The Wine compatibility layer allows users to run many programs designed for Windows under Linux.[85] About half of Wine's code has been contributed by volunteers and half sponsored by commercial interests including CodeWeavers, which produces a commercial version of the software. Since 2009, Google has also provided funding to the Wine project.[86][87] The XO laptop project of One Laptop Per Child is creating a new and potentially much larger Linux community which is planned to reach millions of schoolchildren and their families in the developing world.[88] Major supporters of the project include Google, Red Hat, and eBay.[89] Although the XO will have a Windows option, it will be primarily deployed with Fedora Linux while using Sugar as the desktop environment. For years Linux has been the platform of choice in the film industry. The first major film produced on Linux servers was 1997's Titanic.[90][91] Since then major studios including Dreamworks Animation, Pixar, Weta Digital, and Industrial Light & Magic have migrated to Linux.[92][93][94] According to the Linux Movies Group, more than 95% of the servers and desktops at large animation and visual effects companies use Linux.[95]

[edit] Copyright and naming


See also: SCO-Linux controversies

Linux and most GNU software are licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GPL requires that anyone who distributes Linux must make the source code (and any modifications) available to the recipient under the same terms. Other key components of a software system may use other licenses; many libraries use the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), a more permissive variant of the GPL, and the X.org implementation of the X Window System uses the MIT License. Torvalds states that the Linux kernel will not move from version 2 of the GPL to version 3. He specifically dislikes some provisions in the new license which prohibit the use of the software in digital rights management,[96][97] and it would also be impractical to obtain permission from all the copyright holders, who number in the thousands.[98] A 2001 study of Red Hat Linux 7.1 found that this distribution contained 30 million source lines of code.[99] Using the Constructive Cost Model, the study estimated that this distribution required about eight thousand man-years of development time. According to the study, if all this software

had been developed by conventional proprietary means, it would have cost about $1.38 billion (2011 US dollars) to develop in the United States.[99] Most of the code (71%) was written in the C programming language, but many other languages were used, including C++, assembly language, Perl, Python, Fortran, and various shell scripting languages. Slightly over half of all lines of code were licensed under the GPL. The Linux kernel itself was 2.4 million lines of code, or 8% of the total.[99] In a later study, the same analysis was performed for Debian GNU/Linux version 4.0 (etch, which was released in 2007).[100] This distribution contained close to 283 million source lines of code, and the study estimated that it would have required about seventy three thousand manyears and cost US$7.6 billion (in 2011 dollars) to develop by conventional means. In the United States, the name Linux is a trademark registered to Linus Torvalds.[101] Initially, nobody registered it, but on 15 August 1994, William R. Della Croce, Jr. filed for the trademark Linux, and then demanded royalties from Linux distributors. In 1996, Torvalds and some affected organizations sued him to have the trademark assigned to Torvalds, and in 1997 the case was settled.[102] The licensing of the trademark has since been handled by the Linux Mark Institute. Torvalds has stated that he trademarked the name only to prevent someone else from using it. LMI originally charged a nominal sublicensing fee for use of the Linux name as part of trademarks,[103] but later changed this in favor of offering a free, perpetual worldwide sublicense.[104]
[edit] GNU/Linux Main article: GNU/Linux naming controversy

The Free Software Foundation views Linux distributions that use GNU software as GNU variants and they ask that such operating systems be referred to as GNU/Linux or a Linux-based GNU system.[105] The media and common usage, however, refers to this family of operating systems simply as Linux, as do many large Linux distributions (e.g. SUSE Linux or Mandriva Linux). Some distributions, notably those based on Debian, use GNU/Linux. The naming issue remains controversial.

[edit]

Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft. Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces (GUIs).[2] Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal computer market, overtaking Mac OS, which had been introduced in 1984. As of October 2009, Windows had approximately 90% of the market share of the client operating systems for usage on the Internet.[3][4][5] The most recent client version of Windows is Windows 7; the most recent server version is Windows Server 2008 R2; the most recent mobile version is Windows Phone 7.

Versions
See also: List of Microsoft Windows versions

The term Windows collectively describes any or all of several generations of Microsoft operating system products. These products are generally categorized as follows:
Early versions Main articles: Windows 1.0, Windows 2.0, and Windows 2.1x

Windows 1.0, the first version, released in 1985

The history of Windows dates back to September 1981, when Chase Bishop, a computer scientist, designed the first model of an electronic device and project "Interface Manager" was started. It was announced in November 1983 (after the Apple Lisa, but before the Macintosh) under the name "Windows", but Windows 1.0 was not released until November 1985.[6] The shell of Windows 1.0 was a program known as the MS-DOS Executive. Other supplied programs were Calculator, Calendar, Cardfile, Clipboard viewer, Clock, Control Panel, Notepad, Paint, Reversi, Terminal, and Write. Windows 1.0 did not allow overlapping windows. Instead all windows were tiled. Only dialog boxes could appear over other windows.

Windows 2.0 was released in October 1987 and featured several improvements to the user interface and memory management.[6] Windows 2.0 allowed application windows to overlap each other and also introduced more sophisticated keyboard-shortcuts. It could also make use of expanded memory. Windows 2.1 was released in two different versions: Windows/386 employed the 386 virtual 8086 mode to multitask several DOS programs, and the paged memory model to emulate expanded memory using available extended memory. Windows/286 (which, despite its name, would run on the 8086) still ran in real mode, but could make use of the high memory area. The early versions of Windows were often thought of as simply graphical user interfaces, mostly because they ran on top of MS-DOS and used it for file system services.[7] However, even the earliest 16-bit Windows versions already assumed many typical operating system functions; notably, having their own executable file format and providing their own device drivers (timer, graphics, printer, mouse, keyboard and sound) for applications. Unlike MS-DOS, Windows allowed users to execute multiple graphical applications at the same time, through cooperative multitasking. Windows implemented an elaborate, segment-based, software virtual memory scheme, which allowed it to run applications larger than available memory: code segments and resources were swapped in and thrown away when memory became scarce, and data segments moved in memory when a given application had relinquished processor control.
Windows 3.0 and 3.1 Main articles: Windows 3.0 and Windows 3.1x

Windows 3.0, released in 1990

Windows 3.0 (1990) and Windows 3.1 (1992) improved the design, mostly because of virtual memory and loadable virtual device drivers (VxDs) that allowed them to share arbitrary devices between multitasked DOS windows.[citation needed] Also, Windows applications could now run in protected mode (when Windows was running in Standard or 386 Enhanced Mode), which gave them access to several megabytes of memory and removed the obligation to participate in the software virtual memory scheme. They still ran inside the same address space, where the

segmented memory provided a degree of protection, and multi-tasked cooperatively. For Windows 3.0, Microsoft also rewrote critical operations from C into assembly.
Windows 95, 98, and Me Main articles: Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Me

Windows 95, released in August 1995

Windows 95 was released in August 1995, featuring a new user interface, support for long file names of up to 255 characters, and the ability to automatically detect and configure installed hardware (plug and play). It could natively run 32-bit applications, and featured several technological improvements that increased its stability over Windows 3.1. There were several OEM Service Releases (OSR) of Windows 95, each of which was roughly equivalent to a service pack. Microsoft's next release was Windows 98 in June 1998. Microsoft released a second version of Windows 98 in May 1999, named Windows 98 Second Edition (often shortened to Windows 98 SE). In February 2000, Windows 2000 (in the NT family) was released, followed by Windows Me in September 2000 (Me standing for Millennium Edition). Windows Me updated the core from Windows 98, but adopted some aspects of Windows 2000 and removed the "boot in DOS mode" option. It also added a new feature called System Restore, allowing the user to set the computer's settings back to an earlier date.
Windows NT family Main article: Windows NT

The NT family of Windows systems was fashioned and marketed for higher reliability business use. The first release was NT 3.1 (1993), numbered "3.1" to match the consumer Windows version, which was followed by NT 3.5 (1994), NT 3.51 (1995), NT 4.0 (1996), and Windows 2000, which is the last NT-based Windows release that does not include Microsoft Product

Activation. Windows NT 4.0 was the first in this line to implement the "Windows 95" user interface (and the first to include Windows 95s built-in 32-bit runtimes). Microsoft then moved to combine their consumer and business operating systems with Windows XP that was released in August 2001. It came both in home and professional versions (and later niche market versions for tablet PCs and media centers); they also diverged release schedules for server operating systems. Windows Server 2003, released a year and a half after Windows XP, brought Windows Server up to date with Windows XP. After a lengthy development process, Windows Vista was released toward the end of 2006, and its server counterpart, Windows Server 2008 was released in early 2008. On July 22, 2009, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 were released as RTM (release to manufacturing). Windows 7 was released on October 22, 2009. 64-bit operating systems Windows NT included support for several different platforms before the x86-based personal computer became dominant in the professional world. Versions of NT from 3.1 to 4.0 variously supported PowerPC, DEC Alpha and MIPS R4000, some of which were 64-bit processors, although the operating system treated them as 32-bit processors. With the introduction of the Intel Itanium architecture (also known as IA-64), Microsoft released new versions of Windows to support it. Itanium versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 were released at the same time as their mainstream x86 (32-bit) counterparts. On April 25, 2005, Microsoft released Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions to support the x86-64 (or x64 in Microsoft terminology) architecture. Microsoft dropped support for the Itanium version of Windows XP in 2005. Windows Vista was the first end-user version of Windows that Microsoft released simultaneously in x86 and x64 editions. Windows Vista does not support the Itanium architecture. The modern 64-bit Windows family comprises AMD64/Intel64 versions of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, in both Itanium and x64 editions. Windows Server 2008 R2 drops the 32-bit version, although Windows 7 does not.
Windows CE Main articles: Windows CE and Windows Phone 7

The latest upcoming version of Windows CE, Windows Embedded Compact 7, displaying a possible UI for what the media player can look like.

Microsoft Windows CE 5.0

Windows CE (officially known as Windows Embedded Compact), is an edition of Windows that runs on minimalistic computers, like satellite navigation systems and some mobile phones. Windows Embedded Compact is based on its own dedicated kernel, dubbed Windows CE kernel. Microsoft licenses Windows CE to OEMs and device makers. The OEMs and device makers can modify and create their own user interfaces and experiences, while Windows CE provides the technical foundation to do so. Windows CE was used in the Dreamcast along with Sega's own proprietary OS for the console. Windows CE is the core from which Windows Mobile is derived. Microsoft's latest mobile OS, Windows Phone 7, is based on components from both Windows CE 6.0 R3 and the upcoming Windows CE 7.0. Windows Embedded Compact is not to be confused with Windows XP Embedded or Windows NT 4.0 Embedded, modular editions of Windows based on Windows NT kernel.
Future of Windows

Windows 8, the successor to Windows 7, is currently in development. Microsoft has posted a blog entry in Dutch on October 22, 2010 hinting that Windows 8 will be released in 2 years.[8] Also, during the pre-Consumer Electronics Show keynote, Microsoft's CEO announced that Windows 8 will also run on ARM CPUs. Since ARM CPUs are usually in the form of SOCs found in mobile devices, this new announcement implies that Windows 8 will be more compatible with mobile devices such as netbooks, tablet personal computers, and smartphones.[9]

History
Main article: History of Microsoft Windows

The Windows family tree.

Microsoft has taken two parallel routes in its operating systems. One route has been for the home user and the other has been for the professional IT user. The dual routes have generally led to home versions having greater multimedia support and less functionality in networking and security, and professional versions having inferior multimedia support and better networking and security.[citation needed] The first version of Microsoft Windows, version 1.0, released in November 1985, lacked a degree of functionality and achieved little popularity, and was to compete with Apples own operating system.[citation needed] Windows 1.0 is not a complete operating system; rather, it extends MS-DOS. Microsoft Windows version 2.0 was released in November 1987 and was slightly more popular than its predecessor. Windows 2.03 (release date January 1988) had changed the OS from tiled windows to overlapping windows. The result of this change led to Apple Computer filing a suit against Microsoft alleging infringement on Apple's copyrights.[10][11] Microsoft Windows version 3.0, released in 1990, was the first Microsoft Windows version to achieve broad commercial success, selling 2 million copies in the first six months.[12][13] It featured improvements to the user interface and to multitasking capabilities. It received a facelift in Windows 3.1, made generally available on March 1, 1992. Windows 3.1 support ended on December 31, 2001.[14] In July 1993, Microsoft released Windows NT based on a new kernel. Windows NT 3.1 was the first release of Windows NT. NT was considered to be the professional OS and was the first Windows version to utilize preemptive multitasking.[citation needed] Windows NT would later be retooled to also function as a home operating system, with Windows XP.

On August 24, 1995, Microsoft released Windows 95, a new, and major, consumer version that made further changes to the user interface, and also used preemptive multitasking. Windows 95 was designed to replace not only Windows 3.1, but also Windows for Workgroups, and MSDOS. It was also the first Windows operating system to use Plug and Play capabilities. The changes Windows 95 brought to the desktop were revolutionary, as opposed to evolutionary, such as those in Windows 98 and Windows Me. Mainstream support for Windows 95 ended on December 31, 2000 and extended support for Windows 95 ended on December 31, 2001.[15] The next in the consumer line was Microsoft Windows 98 released on June 25, 1998. It was followed with the release of Windows 98 Second Edition (Windows 98 SE) in 1999. Mainstream support for Windows 98 ended on June 30, 2002 and extended support for Windows 98 ended on July 11, 2006.[16] As part of its "professional" line, Microsoft released Windows 2000 in February 2000. During 2004 part of the Source Code for Windows 2000 was leaked onto the Internet. This was bad for Microsoft as the same kernel used in Windows 2000 was used in Windows XP. The consumer version following Windows 98 was Windows Me (Windows Millennium Edition). Released in September 2000, Windows Me implemented a number of new technologies for Microsoft: most notably publicized was "Universal Plug and Play". Windows Me was heavily criticized due to slowness, freezes and hardware problems. In October 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP, a version built on the Windows NT kernel that also retained the consumer-oriented usability of Windows 95 and its successors. This new version was widely praised in computer magazines.[17] It shipped in two distinct editions, "Home" and "Professional", the former lacking many of the superior security and networking features of the Professional edition. Additionally, the first "Media Center" edition was released in 2002,[18] with an emphasis on support for DVD and TV functionality including program recording and a remote control. Mainstream support for Windows XP ended on April 14, 2009. Extended support will continue until April 8, 2014.[19] In April 2003, Windows Server 2003 was introduced, replacing the Windows 2000 line of server products with a number of new features and a strong focus on security; this was followed in December 2005 by Windows Server 2003 R2. On January 30, 2007, Microsoft released Windows Vista. It contains a number of new features, from a redesigned shell and user interface to significant technical changes, with a particular focus on security features. It is available in a number of different editions, and has been subject to some criticism. On October 22, 2009, Microsoft released Windows 7. Unlike its predecessor, Windows Vista, which introduced a large number of new features, Windows 7 was intended to be a more focused, incremental upgrade to the Windows line, with the goal of being compatible with applications and hardware which Windows Vista was not at the time.[20] Windows 7 has multitouch support, a redesigned Windows shell with a new taskbar, referred to as the Superbar, a home networking system called HomeGroup,[21] and performance improvements.

Timeline of releases
Main article: Timeline of Microsoft Windows [show]Timeline of releases

Windows timeline [show]

Usage share
Main article: Usage share of operating systems Source Date All versions Windows XP Windows 7 Windows Vista Windows Server 2003 Windows 2000 Net Market Share[27] W3Counter[28] Global Stats[29] StatOwl[30] W3Schools[31] June 2011 88.27% 51.13% 27.13% 9.52% 0.27% 0.19% July 2011 80.43% 36.33% 32.89% 11.09% 0.12% July 2011 91.51% 43.89% 36.06% 11.56% July 2011 85.3% 35.65% 32.42% 15.97% 1.08% 0.18% June 2011 85.1% 39.7% 37.8% 6.7% 0.9%

Windows 98

0.03%

Security
Consumer versions of Windows were originally designed for ease-of-use on a single-user PC without a network connection, and did not have security features built in from the outset.[32] However, Windows NT and its successors are designed for security (including on a network) and multi-user PCs, but were not initially designed with Internet security in mind as much, since, when it was first developed in the early 1990s, Internet use was less prevalent.[33] These design issues combined with programming errors (e.g. buffer overflows) and the popularity of Windows means that it is a frequent target of computer worm and virus writers. In June 2005, Bruce Schneiers Counterpane Internet Security reported that it had seen over 1,000 new viruses and worms in the previous six months.[34] In 2005, Kaspersky Lab found around 11,000 malicious programsviruses, Trojans, back-doors, and exploits written for Windows.[35] Microsoft releases security patches through its Windows Update service approximately once a month (usually the second Tuesday of the month), although critical updates are made available at shorter intervals when necessary.[36] In versions of Windows after and including Windows 2000 SP3 and Windows XP, updates can be automatically downloaded and installed if the user selects to do so. As a result, Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, as well as Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003, were installed by users more quickly than it otherwise might have been.[37] While the Windows 9x series offered the option of having profiles for multiple users, they had no concept of access privileges, and did not allow concurrent access; and so were not true multiuser operating systems. In addition, they implemented only partial memory protection. They were accordingly widely criticised for lack of security. The Windows NT series of operating systems, by contrast, are true multi-user, and implement absolute memory protection. However, a lot of the advantages of being a true multi-user operating system were nullified by the fact that, prior to Windows Vista, the first user account created during the setup process was an administrator account, which was also the default for new accounts. Though Windows XP did have limited accounts, the majority of home users did not change to an account type with fewer rights partially due to the number of programs which unnecessarily required administrator rights and so most home users ran as administrator all the time. Windows Vista changes this[38] by introducing a privilege elevation system called User Account Control. When logging in as a standard user, a logon session is created and a token containing only the most basic privileges is assigned. In this way, the new logon session is incapable of making changes that would affect the entire system. When logging in as a user in the Administrators group, two separate tokens are assigned. The first token contains all privileges typically awarded to an administrator, and the second is a restricted token similar to what a standard user would receive. User applications, including the Windows Shell, are then started with the restricted token, resulting in a reduced privilege environment even under an

Administrator account. When an application requests higher privileges or "Run as administrator" is clicked, UAC will prompt for confirmation and, if consent is given (including administrator credentials if the account requesting the elevation is not a member of the administrators group), start the process using the unrestricted token.[39]
File permissions

All Windows versions from Windows NT 3 have been based on a file system permission system referred to as AGLP (Accounts, Global, Local, Permissions) AGDLP which in essence where file permissions are applied to the file/folder in the form of a 'local group' which then has other 'global groups' as members. These global groups then hold other groups or users depending on different Windows versions used. This system varies from other vendor products such as Linux and NetWare due to the 'static' allocation of permission being applied directory to the file or folder. However using this process of AGLP/AGDLP/AGUDLP allows a small number of static permissions to be applied and allows for easy changes to the account groups without reapplying the file permissions on the files and folders.
Windows Defender

On January 6, 2005, Microsoft released a Beta version of Microsoft AntiSpyware, based upon the previously released Giant AntiSpyware. On February 14, 2006, Microsoft AntiSpyware became Windows Defender with the release of Beta 2. Windows Defender is a freeware program designed to protect against spyware and other unwanted software. Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 users who have genuine copies of Microsoft Windows can freely download the program from Microsoft's web site, and Windows Defender ships as part of Windows Vista and 7.[40]
Third-party analysis

In an article based on a report by Symantec,[41] internetnews.com has described Microsoft Windows as having the "fewest number of patches and the shortest average patch development time of the five operating systems it monitored in the last six months of 2006."[42] A study conducted by Kevin Mitnick and marketing communications firm Avantgarde in 2004 found that an unprotected and unpatched Windows XP system with Service Pack 1 lasted only 4 minutes on the Internet before it was compromised, and an unprotected and also unpatched Windows Server 2003 system was compromised after being connected to the internet for 8 hours.[43] However, it is important to note that this study does not apply to Windows XP systems running the Service Pack 2 update (released in late 2004), which vastly improved the security of Windows XP.[citation needed] The computer that was running Windows XP Service Pack 2 was not compromised. The AOL National Cyber Security Alliance Online Safety Study of October 2004 determined that 80% of Windows users were infected by at least one spyware/adware product.[citation needed] Much documentation is available describing how to increase the security of Microsoft Windows products. Typical suggestions include deploying Microsoft Windows behind a hardware or software firewall, running anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and installing patches as they become available through Windows Update.[44]

Windows 8
Windows 8 is the next version of Microsoft Windows, a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablet PCs, servers, and media center PCs.[1]

Contents
[hide]

1 History 2 Features 3 Hardware requirements 4 See also 5 References 6 External links

[edit] History
At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft announced that it would be including support for system-on-a-chip (SoC) and mobile ARM processors in Windows 8.[2][3][4] A 32-bit Milestone 1 build, build 7850, with a build date of September 22, 2010, was leaked to BetaArchive, an online beta community, which was soon leaked to P2P/torrent sharing networks on April 12, 2011.[5] Milestone 1 includes a ribbon interface for Windows Explorer,[6] a PDF reader called Modern Reader, an updated task manager called Modern Task Manager,[7] and native ISO image mounting.[8] A 32-bit Milestone 2 build, build 7955, was leaked to BetaArchive on April 25, 2011.[9] Features of this build were a new pattern login and more.[10] A 64-bit Milestone 3 build, build 7959, was leaked to BetaArchive on May 1, 2011.[11] This build is notable for being the first publicly leaked Windows Server 8 build, as well as the first leaked 64-bit build.[12] A Milestone 3 build, build 7971, was released to close partners of Microsoft on March 29, 2011[13] but was kept under heavy security. However, a few screenshots were leaked. The "Windows 7 Basic" theme now uses similar metrics to the Aero style, but maintains its nonhardware accelerated design, and also supports taskbar thumbnails. The boxes that encase the "close, maximize, and minimize" buttons have been removed, leaving just the signs.[14] A 64-bit Milestone 3 build, build 7989, leaked to BetaArchive on June 18, 2011 after screenshots were revealed the previous day. An SMS feature, a new virtual keyboard, a new bootscreen,

transparency in the basic theme, geo-location services, Hyper-V 3.0, and Powershell 3.0 were revealed in this build.[15] Screenshots of a Windows 8 Developer Preview build were leaked on August 16, 2011.[16] Other new features found in leaked builds include a new Welcome screen,[17] a new packaged application model called AppX that is based on Silverlight,[18] and a setting to automatically adjust window color to fit the wallpaper.[19] There is also a stripped down "Immersive" version of Internet Explorer, similar to the mobile version of Internet Explorer, but using the desktop Trident rendering engine[20] and a new "Hybrid Boot" option that uses "advanced hibernation functionality" on shutdown to allow faster startup times.[21] Another is the ability to create a Portable Workspace, an installation of Windows 8 on a USB storage device.[22] At the Microsoft Developer Forum in Tokyo on May 23, 2011, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that the next version of Windows will be released the following year (in 2012).[23]
"And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there's a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors."[23]

However, the company quickly corrected Ballmer's words in a company statement issued that afternoon.
"It appears there was a misstatement. We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year. To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows."[24]

On June 1, 2011, Microsoft officially unveiled Windows 8 and some of its new features at the Taipei Computex 2011 in Taipei (Taiwan) and at the D9 conference in California (United States).[25][26] The main feature that was shown was the new user interface. On August 16, 2011, Microsoft opened a new blog called 'Building Windows 8' for users and developers.[27] Microsoft will cover more of the new features and improvements in Windows 8 at the BUILD developer conference, scheduled for September 13-16, 2011.[28]

[edit] Features
The main feature that was shown is the extensively redesigned user interface, optimized for touch as well as use with mice and keyboards. A new "Start screen", similar to the one in Windows Phone 7, includes live application tiles. It replaces the Start menu, being triggered by the Start button or Windows key, and is also the first screen shown on startup. The user can go to the regular desktop by choosing the "Desktop" tile or a traditional desktop-based application.

Windows 8 has a new developer platform according to Microsoft Vice President Julie LarsonGreen, who called it "our new developer platform, which is...based on HTML5 and JavaScript."[29] The new applications run in full-screen, but two of them can be displayed sideby-side using "Snap". Examples of new applications that were demoed include a Twitter client, a weather application, a stock-tracking application, an RSS news feeder, and a virtual piano. The new interface is primarily designed for 16:9 screen resolutions, with 1366768 and larger screens able to display two Windows 8 applications. 1024768 screens can display one Windows 8 application in full-screen, and 1024600 screens can only use the traditional Windows desktop.[30][31] Mike Angiulo confirmed at Computex 2011 that Windows 8 will use OEM Activation 3.0 instead of Windows 7 OEM Activation 2.1, which will make it less prone to cracks.

[edit] Hardware requirements


Microsoft has confirmed that the system requirements for Windows 8 will be the same as or lower than those of Windows 7