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Operating system
An operating system (OS) is a set of system software programs in a computer that regulate the ways application software programs use the computer hardware and the ways that users control the computer. For hardware functions such as input/output and memory space allocation, operating system programs act as an intermediary between application programs and the computer hardware, although application programs are usually executed directly by the hardware. Operating Systems is also a field of study within Applied Computer Science.

Operating systems are found on almost any device that contains a computer with multiple programs—from cellular phones and videogame consoles to supercomputers and web servers. Operating systems are two-sided platforms, bringing consumers (the first side) and program developers (the second side) together in a single market. Some popular modern operating systems for personal computers include Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Examples of operating systems
Server operating systems
Some popular operating systems for servers — such as FreeBSD, Solaris and Linux — are derived from or are similar to UNIX. UNIX was originally a minicomputer operating system, and as servers gradually replaced traditional minicomputers, UNIX was a logical and efficient choice of operating system. Many of these derived OSs are free in both senses, and popular.

Server-oriented operating systems tend to have certain features in common that make them more suitable for the server environment, such as

GUI not available or optional

Ability to reconfigure and update both hardware and software to some extent without restart, advanced backup facilities to permit regular and frequent online backups of critical data, transparent data transfer between different volumes or devices, flexible and advanced networking capabilities, automation capabilities such as daemons in UNIX and services in Windows, and tight system security, with advanced user, resource, data, and memory protection.

Server-oriented operating systems can, in many cases, interact with hardware sensors to detect conditions such as overheating, processor and disk failure, and consequently alert an operator and/or take remedial measures itself.

Because servers must supply a restricted range of services to perhaps many users while a desktop computer must carry out a wide range of functions required by its user, the requirements of an operating system for a server are different from those of a desktop machine. While it is possible for an operating system to make a machine both provide services and respond quickly to the requirements of a user, it is usual to use different operating systems on servers and desktop machines. Some operating systems are supplied in both server and desktop versions with similar user interface.

The desktop versions of the Windows and Mac OS X operating systems are deployed on a minority of servers, as are some proprietary mainframe operating systems, such as z/OS. The dominant operating systems among servers are UNIX-based or open source kernel distributions, such as Linux (the kernel).

The rise of the microprocessor-based server was facilitated by the development of Unix to run on the x86 microprocessor architecture. The Microsoft Windows family of operating systems also runs on x86 hardware, and since Windows NT have been available in versions suitable for server use.

While the role of server and desktop operating systems remains distinct, improvements in the reliability of both hardware and operating systems have blurred the distinction between the two classes. Today, many desktop and server operating systems share similar code bases, differing mostly in configuration. The shift towards web applications and middleware platforms has also lessened the demand for specialist application servers.


Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a family of proprietary operating systems most commonly used on personal computers. It is the most common family of operating systems for the personal computer, with about 90% of the market share. Currently, the most widely used version of the Windows family is Windows XP, released on October 25, 2001. The newest version is Windows 7 for personal computers and Windows Server 2008 R2 for servers.

It originated in 1981 as an add-on to the older MS-DOS operating system for the IBM PC. Released in 1985, Microsoft came to dominate the business world of personal computers, and went on to set a number of industry standards and commonplace applications. Beginning with Windows XP, all modern versions are based on the Windows NT kernel. Current versions of Windows run on IA-32 and x86-64 processors, although older versions sometimes supported other architectures.

Windows is also used on servers, supporting applications such as web servers and database servers. In recent years, Microsoft has spent significant marketing and research & development money to demonstrate that Windows is capable of running any enterprise application, which has resulted in consistent price/performance records (see the TPC) and significant acceptance in the enterprise market. However, its usage in servers is not as widespread as personal computers, and here Windows actively competes against Linux and BSD for market share, while still capturing a steady majority by some accounts.

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 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.

Some Unix variants like HP's HP-UX and IBM's AIX are designed to run only on that vendor's hardware. Others, such as Solaris, can run on multiple types of hardware, including x86 servers and PCs. Apple's Mac OS X, a hybrid kernel-based BSD variant derived from NeXTSTEP, Mach, and FreeBSD, has replaced Apple's earlier (non-Unix) Mac OS.

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.

BSD and its descendants
The first server for the World Wide Web ran on NeXTSTEP, based on BSD.

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. However, the two year wait had set the stage for two projects that would ultimately eclipse[citation needed] both BSD and Unix: GNU and Linux.

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 v10.6, which was first made available on August 28, 2009. Releases of Mac OS X are named after big cats; the current version of Mac OS X is "Snow Leopard".

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.

Plan 9
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.

Linux and GNU
Linux is the generic name for a UNIX like operating system that 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 it is used on only 0.5-2% of all personal computers, it has been widely adopted for use in servers and embedded systems (such as cell phones). Linux has superseded UNIX in most places, and is used on the 10 most powerful supercomputers in the world.

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, Linux is often 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 into the Linux kernel in order to create a full-fledged operating system.

Google Chrome OS
Chrome is an operating system based on the Linux kernel and designed by Google. Chrome targets computer users that spend most of their time on the internet—it is technically only a web browser with no other applications, and relies on internet applications used in the web browser to accomplish tasks such as word processing and media viewing.

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 RISC OS, MorphOS and AmigaOS 4 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.

 
 
 
 
 
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