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2.2.1: Types of Operating Systems (continued)

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  • 3. Distributed Operating System
    Various autonomous interconnected computers communicate each other using a shared communication network. Independent systems possess their own memory unit and CPU. These are referred as loosely coupled systems or distributed systems. These system’s processors differ in size and function. The major benefit of working with these types of operating system is that it is always possible that one user can access the files or software which are not actually present on his system but on some other system connected within this network i.e., remote access is enabled within the devices connected in that network.


    A distributed operating system is system software over a collection of independent, networked, communicating, and physically separate computational nodes. They handle jobs which are serviced by multiple CPUs. Each individual node holds a specific software subset of the global aggregate operating system
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Distributed Operating System. ("Distributed Operating System" by akash1295Geeks for Geeks is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

    Advantages of Distributed Operating System:

    • Failure of one will not affect the other network communication, as all systems are independent from each other
    • Electronic mail increases the data exchange speed
    • Since resources are being shared, computation is highly fast and durable
    • Load on host computer reduces
    • These systems are easily scalable as many systems can be easily added to the network
    • Delay in data processing reduces

    Disadvantages of Distributed Operating System:

    • Failure of the main network will stop the entire communication
    • To establish distributed systems the language which are used are not well defined yet
    • These types of systems are not readily available as they are very expensive. Not only that the underlying software is highly complex and not understood well yet

    Examples of Distributed Operating System are- LOCUS .

    4. Network Operating System
    Historically operating systems with networking capabilities were described as network operating system, because they allowed personal computers (PCs) to participate in computer networks and shared file and printer access within a local area network (LAN). This description of operating systems is now largely historical, as common operating systems include a network stack to support a client–server model.

    These limited client/server networks were gradually replaced by Peer-to-peer networks, which used networking capabilities to share resources and files located on a variety of computers of all sizes. A peer-to-peer network sets all connected computers equal; they all share the same abilities to use resources available on the network. The most popular peer-to-peer networks as of 2020 are Ethernet, Wi-Fi and the Internet protocol suite. Software that allowed users to interact with these networks, despite a lack of networking support in the underlying manufacturer's operating system, was sometimes called a network operating system. Examples of such add-on software include Phil Karn's KA9Q NOS (adding Internet support to CP/M and MS-DOS), PC/TCP Packet Drivers (adding Ethernet and Internet support to MS-DOS), and LANtastic (for MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows and OS/2), and Windows for Workgroups (adding NetBIOS to Windows). Examples of early operating systems with peer-to-peer networking capabilities built-in include MacOS (using AppleTalk and LocalTalk), and the Berkeley Software Distribution.

    Today, distributed computing and groupware applications have become the norm. Computer operating systems include a networking stack as a matter of course. During the 1980s the need to integrate dissimilar computers with network capabilities grew and the number of networked devices grew rapidly. Partly because it allowed for multi-vendor interoperability, and could route packets globally rather than being restricted to a single building, the Internet protocol suite became almost universally adopted in network architectures. Thereafter, computer operating systems and the firmware of network devices tended to support Internet protocols.


    The clients all need access to the file server, NOT just for application software, but for the operating system as well.
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Network Operating System. ("Network Operating System" by akash1295Geeks for Geeks is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

    Advantages of Network Operating System:

    • Highly stable centralized servers
    • Security concerns are handled through servers
    • New technologies and hardware up-gradation are easily integrated to the system
    • Server access are possible remotely from different locations and types of systems

    Disadvantages of Network Operating System:

    • Servers are costly
    • User has to depend on central location for most operations
    • Maintenance and updates are required regularly

    Examples of Network Operating System are: Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Windows Server 2008, UNIX, Linux, Mac OS X, Novell NetWare, and BSD etc.

    Adapted from:
    "Types of Operating Systems" by akash1295Geeks for Geeks is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
    "Network operating system" by Multiple ContributorsWikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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