What are the Different Types of Operating Systems?

Adrem Siratt

There are countless different types of operating systems available for computer users. An operating system (OS) provides the user with a way to access the computer's hardware. Microsoft Windows® is a series of operating systems that is installed on the majority of personal computers (PCs). Mac OS® is another popular type of operating system. Linux operating systems are free alternatives to Windows® and Mac OS®.

The Linux operating system can be obtained free of cost, even for commercial use.
The Linux operating system can be obtained free of cost, even for commercial use.

Windows® is found on the majority of computers and strives to provide a user-friendly operating system. The earliest versions of Windows® became available in 1981. Over the years, numerous versions of Windows have been released as technology has advanced.

Macintosh computers and software are the products of Apple Inc.
Macintosh computers and software are the products of Apple Inc.

Mac OS® was created by Apple Inc., which took a different approach to the computer market not only by creating its own operating system but also its own computers. For many years, this meant that Mac OS® could be used only Apple brand computers. In addition to computers, Mac OS® is used on many other Apple products.

In addition to the operating systems provided by Microsoft and Apple Inc., there have been a number of free operating systems created. The most well known of these free alternatives are the branch of operating systems known collectively as Linux. The Linux kernel, upon which all Linux systems are based, was created based on a much older operating system known as the Uniplexed Information and Computing System (UNIX).

Linux is based on the concept of free computer software. The Linux kernel itself is freely distributed, allowing for a wide range of developers to use it to create their own version of Linux. This led to the development of a large number of free operating systems within a relatively short time. The open-source development also allowed for security patches and feature updates to be quickly added.

The fact that there are so many different versions that all use the name "Linux" leads to confusion for many computer users. Also, many versions of Linux are oriented towards providing advanced features with limited user-friendliness. This has resulted in Linux being primarily of use for servers, where its security and stability help to ensure data is well protected. Linux operating systems have also seen use in several other systems where cost and performance are major issues.

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Discussion Comments


Linux has gotten a lot friendlier of the years. There was a time, of course, when installing Linux was a bit of chore, finding hardware drivers for it was even more difficult and installing programs was a nightmare.

That has largely changed. Take Ubuntu Linux, for example. That installs easily, contains most of the drivers anyone will need for their hardware and even comes with enough programs installed (an office suite, graphics package similar to Photoshop, etc.) to make it useful immediately. Installing programs is easy to through the built-in Ubuntu store. Oh, and most programs are free.

Now, there are some drawbacks. Some essential programs simply won't work on Linux -- Adobe InDesign and Intuit Quickbooks, for example. Also, there are some things you simply can't do without opening up a terminal and banging in commands on a UNIX-like interface.

Still, Linux has come a long way.

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