Operating Systems

Unit 49: Operating Systems

Unit code R/615/1700
Unit level 5
Credit value 15


Although many computer users do not interact directly with systems software and hardware, it is important that computing students have the opportunity to learn about these underlying systems.

MS-DOS, Windows, UNIX, Linux, Android, OS2, MacOS are just a few examples of different types of both modern and legacy Operating Systems. The foundations of most, if not all of them, is MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System). Way back in the 1980s this was used as the first Operating System for Personal Computers (PCs). In the 1990s, MS-DOS was transformed to a GUI (Graphic User Interface) WSWIG (What You See Is What You Get) Operating System through the release of Windows 3.11/Windows for Workgroups. That has led to several iterations of the Windows Operating System.

This unit introduces students to different operating systems such as DOS, Windows, UNIX and Linux. The topics covered are the tasks of operating systems such as controlling and allocating memory, prioritising system requests, controlling input and output devices, facilitating data networking and managing files, including security and protection.

Among the topics included in this unit are: the history and evolution of Operating Systems; the definition of an Operating System; why Operating Systems are needed; how Operating Systems started and developed; Operating Systems management roles; management of memory, processes, processors, devices and files; security and protection: user security, device, application and process protection; inter-process communication; comparison of Operating Systems; distributed and networked systems; concurrent systems; multi-user systems; graphical interface systems; and practical application of Operating Systems: user interface commands of major Operating Systems; installations and extensions of Operating Systems.

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to competently operate any given Operating System and undertake routine maintenance of Operating System as well as their optimisation. As a result they will develop skills such as communication literacy, critical thinking, analysis, reasoning and interpretation, which are crucial for gaining employment and developing academic competence.

Essential Content

LO1: Investigate different Operating Systems, their functions and user interfaces

  • The history of Operating Systems:
  • Discuss the history of Operating Systems from Legacy Operating Systems to current Operating Systems, tracking its development from Batch files to the modern Operating Systems.
  • History and evolution of operating systems:
  • Discuss what is meant by an Operating System; why do we need Operating Systems? How did Operating Systems start and develop throughout the ages? What constitutes an Operating System?

LO2: Explore the processes managed by an Operating System

  • Operating Systems Management:
  • Discuss in detail how Memory Management is conducted in an Operating System.
  • Discuss how job scheduling is handled by an Operating System. Discuss how Process Scheduling happens in in Operating Systems. How does concurrent processing happen in an Operating System. Discuss how device management is accomplished by an Operating System. File Management is a crucial element for an Operating System, discuss how this is performed by an Operating System.

LO3: Demonstrate the use of DOS, Windows, UNIX and Linux

  • Commands for manipulating:
  • Interaction with different Operating Systems requires knowledge of certain commands and knowledge of manipulating them. You are required to research several MS-DOS, Windows, UNIX and Linux commands.
  • Consider how secure different Operating Systems are. In addition, also make reference to different environments and the conditions of use..

LO4: Analyse appropriate techniques and technologies used in distributed and concurrent systems

  • Critical evaluation of an Operating System environment:
  • Operating Systems can be used for a number of domains. Your task is to evaluate different Operating Systems’ environments, including Distributed Operating Systems as well as Concurrent Operating Systems, etc.