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System Software

System software helps run the computer hardware and system. It is designed to control the operations of a computer and co-ordinate all external devices like communication devices, printers, keyboards, display units etc. It manages all the computer resources like memory and processor time in optimal and stable manner.

It consists of variety of programs that supports the operation of the computer. Some common type of system software are:- Operating system, Linker, Loader, language processor, Device Driver, Server Programs etc.

Operating System

An Operating System is the software that manages all the computers resources to optimize its performance is a set of programs that help in controlling and managing the Hardware and the Software resources of a computer system. It establish the relationship between hardware and software. It has three main responsibilities:-
  • Perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the disk and controlling peripheral devices.
  • Ensure that different programs and users running at the same time do not interfere with each other.
  • Provide a software platform on top of which other program can run.
Most Operating systems perform the functions given below:-
  • Process Management
  • Memory Management
  • File Management
  • Security
  • Command interpretations
Type of Operating System:- Operating System help to load and save data; to communicate; and to run other programs (applications software). Because there are different types of computer, and different uses for them, there are different types of operating system. These are:- 
  • Batch Operating System:- In a batch processing operating system interaction between the user and processor is limited or there is no interaction at all during the execution of work. Data and programs that need to be processed are bundled and collected as a β€˜batch’ and executed together. 
  • Multiprogramming Operating System:- Multi programming operating system which in addition to supporting multiple concurrent process allows the instruction and data from two or more separate process to reside in primary memory simultaneously. Multiprogramming System are multitasking, multiprocessing and multiuser operating System. 
    • Multitasking operating System:- Multitasking is the ability of a computer to run more than one program, or task, at the same time. A multitasking operating system supports two or more active processes simultaneously. 
    • Multiprocessors operating System:- A multiprocessing operating system is one that can run on computer systems that contain more than one processor.
    • Multiuser operating System:- This type of OS allows multiple users to simultaneously use the system, while here as well, the processor splits its resources and handles one user at a time, the speed and efficiency at which it does this makes it apparent that users are simultaneously using the system, some network systems utilize this kind of operating system. E.g Windows XP, Vista, 7 etc.
  • Single user operating System:- A single user OS as the name suggests is designed for one user to effectively use a computer at a time. E.g DOS, Windows 95/98 etc
  • Distributed operating System:- An operating system which manages a collection of independent computers and makes them appear to the users of the system as a single computer. In a distributed system, software and data maybe distributed around the system, programs and files maybe stored on different storage devices which are located in different geographical locations and maybe accessed from different computer terminals.
  • Network Operating System:- A network operating system is a collection of software and associated protocols that allows a set of autonomous computers which are interconnected by a computer network to be used together. In Network operating system, the users are aware of existence of multiple computers can log in to remote machines and copy files from one machine to another machine. 
DOS (Disk Operating System):- Microsoft Disk operating system, MS-DOS is a character user interface (CUI) or non-graphical command line operating system. 


NOTE: DOS was created for IBM compatible computers that was first introduced by Microsoft in August 1981 and was last updated in 1994 when MS-DOS 6.22 was released. MS-DOS operating system is not commonly used today, the command shell more commonly known as the Windows command line is still used.

Server Programs

Server programs are dedicated computer programs that run as services and serve the needs or request of other programs. These services may run on a dedicated hardware or on the same computer as the requesting programs. Some common example of server programs are:-
  1. Web Server:- For hosting websites.
  2. Print Server:- manage multiple print requests for multiple printers
  3. File server:- manages the storage and retrieval of shared computer files
  4. Database Server:- provide database services to other computer programs
  5. Mail server:- managed and transfers electronic mail messages

Device Drivers

Device Drivers are shared computer programs that provide an interface between the hardware and operating system or other higher level programs. Device drivers are hardware dependent and operating system specific. They allow you to add and remove devices from your computer system without changing any of the applications using that device.

Common Hardware components that require drivers are:-
  • Keyboards
  • Mouse
  • Printers
  • Graphics cards
  • Sound Cards
  • Card Readers
  • CD/DVD drives
  • Network cards


Loader is a set of program that loads the machine language translated by the translator into the main memory and makes it ready for execution.


A Linker or link editor is a program that takes one or more objects file code generated by a compiler and combine them into a single executable program. Linker is used to combine all the objects files and converts them into a final executable program.

Language Processor: (Translator)

Programmers write their program in one of the high level language and assembly language because it is much easier to code in such language but computer does not understand any language other than its own machine language. It is necessary to convert program into a machine language. To convert this program we use language processor.
Language processors are of the following type:-
  • Assembler:- An Assembler is a program that convert assembly language program into machine language.
  • Interpreter:- Interpreter is a set of program which converts high level language program into machine language. It is a very slow because it convert program line by line.
  • Compiler:- Compiler is a program that translates the code written in high level language program into machine language. It is very fast because it scan whole program and then convert into machine language.

Note:- Code written into high level language or Assembly Language know as Source Code and the converted code into machine language know as Object code.


Difference between Compiler and Interpreter:-
Compiler scans the entire program and convert it into machine code. Slow for debugging. Execution time is less.
Interpreter translates the program line by line. Good for fast debugging and execution time is more.

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