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Operating Systems

Posted by pbhanney on January 26, 2015

Operating Systems
We all use operating systems in our lives in one way or another. One of the biggest things to learn is how we are using them. There are several operating systems that we use. Some of the more common ones are:
• Windows (made by Microsoft)
• Macintosh (made by Apple)
• iOS (made by Apple)
• Android (made by Google)
• Linux (an open source operating system)
However, even basic cell phones that don’t use iOS or Android also have an operating system. An operating system is the software that controls the computer. So, a computer has to have an operating system (even a very basic one) in order to work. Surprisingly the operating system does a lot of the functions we use in other programs. For instance, when you save a file, it is actually the operating system that is doing the saving of the file, not the program itself. Also, when you print, open a file, copy, cut, and paste something, it is the operating system that is making that action happen.
A few others things an operating system takes care of are:
• Logging on and off of the computer
• Locking and unlocking the computer
• Shutting down the computer properly
Although different operating systems do all of these things differently, creators of operating systems try to make these functions familiar to users.
Operating systems are both influenced and also influence the hardware of a computer. From RAM to ROM and hard drive speed along with processor speed have an influence on the operating system. And in reverse the operating system can influence how fast the processor with process information as well as any other piece of hardware connected to the computer.
Understanding how to use an operating system is also important. From using menus and toolbars to navigating folder views. Also, being able to go into the system settings (Control Panel in Windows, System Preferences in Macintosh, etc.) and change settings on the computer is an essential part of using an operating system. A person might not have to know how to change every setting in an operating system. However there are a few (changing date and time, language, visual, and accessibility options) as well as having an idea of how to navigate through the options and finding what you want to change are some of the essentials.
Keeping an operating system up-to-date is one of the biggest things to be able to do. It usually helps to keep viruses and other problems that occur in programs.
Some of the other items in systems settings that people should know are:
• Understanding what a group policy is
• Changing read and write permissions on files
• The differences between administrative and standard user rights
• Installing and Uninstalling programs properly
• Changing file and directory (folder) properties
File extensions are also important to know. Even though not all operating systems use file extensions, they are key to know for files that are on the Internet. For instance, knowing that a .pdf extension is a “Portable Document File” and is opened with Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Acrobat Reader is important to know because there are tons of PDF files out on the Internet.
What do you think are some other operating system skills and knowledge should a user have?

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