Operating Systems (OS)

The operating system (OS) is the basic set of software used on a computer, but it is not required for the computer to run. Most users have an OS installed on their machines because it manages the various hardware components for the machine. From a computer science/electrical engineer/computer engineer viewpoint, the OS makes new software and hardware development easier through the Application Programming Interface (API).

OS Components:

  • user interface
  • libraries – collections of common routines
  • kernel
  • device drivers

Common OSes:

There are many different operating systems. Some of the more popular are:

  • Windows
  • Mac OS X (renamed to macOS)
  • Linux (technically a kernel used by other OS)
    • Android (Linux-based mobile OS)
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (used at NC State)
    • Ubuntu

OS Updates

The developers of these OS’s are constantly releasing updates and patches for their software to protect against new threats that may exploit vulnerabilities in their product. In addition you will also be able to download updates to major software components that accompany your OS.

Thankfully, major OS developers have built in automatic updating software to keep the user from having to manually check for updates for their computer. Your responsibility is to make sure this is enabled on your system. While it is easy to enable automatic updates for your computer, it is also important that you occasionally perform a manual check to make sure your system is staying up-to-date. Many times viruses and spyware will attempt to disable automatic updates to further exploit your system.

How do I know my OS is up-to-date?

Windows 8 or 10

Mac OS X