6.1. Understanding Operating Systems

Computers are pretty much useless without software. A piece of hardware makes a good paperweight or doorstop, unless you have an easy way to interface with it. Software is that interface. While there are many types of software, or programs, the most important application you'll ever deal with is the operating system. Operating systems have many different, complex functions, but two of them jump out as being critical: interfacing with the hardware and providing a platform on which other applications can run.

Here are three major distinctions of software you should be aware of:

Operating system (OS)

Provides a consistent environment for other software to execute commands. The OS gives users an interface with ...

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