An operating system is a core software that lets a user access the essential functions of a computer or a smartphone. The software manages various hardware resources of a computer including keyboards, scanners, internal drives, mouse, and network connections. The systems were developed in the 1950s at a time when computers only executed a single command at a time. The computers were fed with numerous software programs linked together from where modern operating systems developed. The basic components of an operating system are the user interface, kernel, and application programming interfaces. Different operating systems are designed to work with different types of hardware. The iOS system, for example, works with iPhones and iPad tablets. The most popular operating systems are:
The Android operating system was developed by Google. Its development was based on an improved version of Linux Kernel as well as other open source software. Android works seamlessly with touchscreen mobile devices including tablets and mobile phones. Google has also developed the software for television, cars, and wristwatches, each with a modified user interface.
The operating system was first developed by Android Inc and bought by Google in 2005. It was launched in 2007 and the first commercial Android gadget released in September 2008. Google collaborated with other firms to form the OHA (Open Handset Alliance) which is tasked with the subsequent development of Android. The OHA popularly names Android releases after desserts.
Although Android’s kernel is based on Linux, the OHA has customized it to meet Google’s specifications. The kernel is fitted with drivers for the camera, keypad, display, Wi-Fi, and flash memory. It additionally takes care of primary functions like process management, security, and memory management. The Android OS is optimized for phones with features like Bluetooth, integrated browser, compass, GPS, and accelerometer. The Android Software Development Kit is available for developers who are formulating applications for the operating system. The kit includes an emulator, debugger, documentation, libraries, and sample code or tutorials. Android ranks as the most popular mobile OS.
Windows has come a long way to be the most used desktop OS today. Windows 1.0 was unveiled in 1985, and its basic interface featured a primitive word processor. The Windows 2.0 followed in 1987, and while it did not offer much in the way of functionality, it introduced Excel and Word which have become core applications for users. In 1990, the more successful Windows 3.0 was introduced which supported multitasking and virtual memory and improved graphics. The most recent version is the Microsoft 10 which succeeded Microsoft 8.1. Multilingual support has been accommodated by Windows since the Windows 3. The language of the interface and the keyboard can be changed on the panel. Components for all built-in languages are automatically installed with the installation of the OS.
When it comes to desktop and laptop computers, the Windows OS enjoys a 75% share in most markets. Windows 10 surpassed the older version of Windows 7 to be the most popular OS starting in 2019. Windows 10 currently enjoys over 39% of the global market share for desktop OS. Over 700 million gadgets now run on Windows 10 including tablets, PCs, and Xbox One. Microsoft ended the majority of the support for Windows 7 in 2015 and has been urging customers to upgrade. Windows XP also runs on many PCs around the world. Efforts to run versions of Windows for phones have not been very successful.
3. Mac OS
Mac OS was developed by the American-based Apple.Inc. It was first unveiled in 1984 to power the firm’s Macintosh line of computers. The Macintosh pioneered the use of graphical user interface systems and inspired the development of Windows OS by Microsoft. To market the Mac OS, Apple highlighted its intuitive ease of use. Instead of typing commands, users used a mouse pointer to visually move the Finder which was a series of virtual files and folders represented by icons. Apple made an agreement in the 1980s allowing Microsoft to adopt several aspects of its OS interface. Since the 2000s, the OS has never been licensed to run on computers not manufactured by Apple.
The initial desktop version of the OS was the Mac OS X 10.0 after which subsequent versions were named after big cats. After the release of the OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, the releases were named after localities in California. The newest version was released in September 2018 called MacOS Mojave, and it features a few iOS applications like Apple News and Home. Other popular versions include the MacOS High Sierra and MacOS Sierra.
The operating system is designed on technologies configured by NeXT, a firm created by Steve Jobs who was a co-founder of Apple. MacOS has leveraged on its user-friendly features including FaceTime for calling and Siri, a personal assistant.
4. Apple iOS
iOS was designed as a mobile operating system to work with Apple’s hardware. It powers the firm’s mobile devices like the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. It ranks second in global popularity after Android. Apple iOS was unveiled in 2007. The iOS interface is based on direct manipulation and uses multi-touch gestures like pinch, reverse pinch, swipe, and tap. The interface includes buttons, sliders, and switches. Apple has been recognized for integrating accessibility functions into its iOS to empower people with hearing and visions disabilities to efficiently use its products.
Major versions of the operating system are released yearly. The current version is the iOS 12 unveiled on September 2018. The iOS 13 is set to be launched in June 2019. On all recent devices that run on the OS, it regularly checks if there are available updates and prompts users to allow automatic installation. The features of the iOS include the home screen, system font, folders, and notification center. An intelligent personal assistant called Siri is integrated into the OS. It answers questions and makes recommendations and also performs requests via a set of internet services. The iOS has an apple store to let users buy and download applications. The system incorporates strong encryption features to limit the actions that unauthorized people can perform on the phone.
5. Linux / CentOS
Linux is among the popular versions of the UNIX operating system. One of its primary components is Kernel which powers all the core activities of the platform. BlueHost is one of the biggest web hosting providers, which uses Linux Kernel on their servers. It is made of various modules, and it directly interacts with the underlying hardware. The System Libraries implement majority of the functionalities of Linux without needing the code access rights of the Kernel Module. System Utility programs perform specialized individual level functions.
The Linux source code is open and freely available, and it is a community-based project. It is continuously evolving because multiple teams are engaged in its development. It is also a multi-user system where several users can access resources like RAM, application systems, and memory at the same time. Linux also allows multiple programs to run simultaneously.
The OS was initially incorporated into personal computers, but it has since been deployed to more avenues than any other operating system. It is the preferred OS for web servers and big iron systems like mainframe computers.
It is recognized as the only OS to be used on Top500 supercomputers. Linux runs on around 2.3% of all desktop computers. Linux runs on embedded systems such as those in televisions, routers, smartwatches, automation controls, and digital video recorders.
6. Chrome OS
The Chrome OS, like Linux, is kernel-based. It is designed by Google for users who spend a lot of time online using web applications. It was announced in 2009. The key tenets governing its use are security, pace, and ease-of-use. Chrome OS is particularly popular among users of mini-laptops, laptops, and netbooks. These gadgets are called Chromebooks and have been available since 2011. The OS has the same name given to Google’s web browser, Chrome.
Its lightning-fast web browsing is among the advantages of Chrome OS. Google guarantees loading speeds of 8 seconds on the OS. The OS has anti-virus scanning, and it is able to gauge potentially harmful sites. It runs many web-based applications, but it does not power conventional PC software. Instead of downloading apps on the OS, a user runs them on their web browser and stores the application, often called Chrome extensions, on the internet. This limits the kinds of apps that run on the OS, but there are many alternative programs designed specifically for the Chrome OS. Some Chromebooks support Android applications from the Google Play Store.
Ubuntu is a Linux OS, and it can be freely accessed with both professional and community support. The development of the OS is based on several key tenets. The OS should be available without charge while its software programs should be usable by communities in their local languages and regardless of any disabilities. The developers at Ubuntu encourage the use of open source software. It is released in the desktop, core, and server editions. The OS is also popularly used in cloud computing. A new version of Ubuntu is launched every six months with long-term support (LTS) launched after two years. The current version is the 19.04.
The OS is developed by Canonical which translates the name of the OS as African for “humanity to others.” The community’s governance follows a meritocratic model. Canonical releases support and security updates for each version and its revenue is gained from selling premium services based on Ubuntu. Ubuntu installations provide numerous software like Firefox, Transmission, and LibreOffice and lightweight games like chess and Sudoku. Ubuntu relies on default security measures. User programs for example run with lower privileges so that they cannot corrupt the OS or the files of other users.
The Debian OS is made of free software. It began as a 1993 project launched by Ian Murdock. It was among the earliest OS based on the Linux kernel. The Debian 0.01 was unveiled in September 1993 followed by the stable version 1.1 on June 1996. The Debian Stable branch is used as the basis for numerous other Linux distributions. The project runs over the internet and is coordinated by a staff of volunteers managed by the Debian project leader.
Major releases occur after two years while revision releases fix security concerns and important issues. There are about a thousand active developers in the Debian ecosystem, but developers can submit contributions without being an official part of the team.
The OS has access to online repositories with more than 51,000 packages. It officially has only free software, but paid software can be installed from the repositories. The free programs available on Debian include K3b disc burner, LibreOffice, VLC media player, Firefox web browser, GIMP image editor, and Evolution mail.
BSG developed in the 1970s in the University of California, thanks to the Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG). It was first called Berkeley Unix since it was based on the source code of the first edition of Unix developed at Bell Labs. The OS was extensively adopted by workstation vendors in the 1980s in the form of such proprietary Unix variants like Sun Microsystems SunOS and DEC Ultrix. The final release of the OS from Berkeley was the 4.4b SD-Lite Release 2 in 1995. The CSRG was subsequently dissolved, and development of the OS at the campus stopped. Variants based on the final release have been released over the years. These variants include NetBSD, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD – you can learn more on BSDguru about them.
Unix has been under development since the 1970s when development began at the Bell Labs. It supports multi-tasking and multi-users and is used in laptops, servers, and desktops. Unix systems use the graphic user interface similar to the one on Windows. Popular derivatives of this system include MacOS X and Sun Solaris. It was the first OS to use high-level language or C Language making it portable to other devices with minimal adaptation. Unix runs on the kernel, shell, and the programs. Unix systems work with a modular design sometimes termed as the “Unix Philosophy.” This design includes a set of simple features where each performs a well-defined auction.
There are currently many considerations to evaluate when buying a new technology. Statistics show a tremendous desktop market share for Windows. It is an excellent OS for computers but is it fit for your needs? Mac OS and the innovative Chrome OS have been enjoying an increasing customer base, and you need to evaluate the various offerings of each OS. Your mobile phone needs usage will also inform the OS you choose for your phone. When it comes to servers, high-performance systems like Linux and Ubuntu are more popular as users run a lot of functions.