An operating system (also called an OS) is what is needed to run the programs on a computer or a mobile device. The programs that run on an Operating System talk to the hardware (Specifically through the BIOS). Microsoft Windows and Mac OS are common operating systems. Other, less common, but important operating systems are Linux, Unix, BSD, and Solaris.
An operating system must be made up of different parts: (these can change depending on the operating system)
- Kernel and drivers
- Computer programs and software
Functions typically handled by the OS:
- Interaction with the user, and management of attached devices
- Management of programs, starting and stopping them
- Management of resources like processor time: Making sure each program gets to run in turn
- Data needs to be read, and written.
- Memory management: virtual memory, paging, swapping
Microsoft Windows is an operating system made by Microsoft. It is used by almost 90% of computer users but not everyone agrees it is the best. Almost all new personal computers come installed with Windows 7, some weaker computers may come with an older version.
Microsoft Windows was first made in 1985. The most recent change is Windows 10 which was made in 2015. Bill Gates helped make Windows. He was vice chief executive officer and co-founder of Microsoft, and he was the chief software architect, but now has retired from the company.
Linux or GNU/Linux is a free and open source software operating system for computers. The operating system is a collection of the basic instructions that tell the electronic parts of the computer what to do and how to work. Free and open source software (FOSS) means that everyone has the freedom to use it, see how it works, and change it.
There is a lot of software for Linux, and since Linux is open source it means that most of the software for it is open source and free. This is one of the reasons why some people like to use Linux.