Kids, Code, and Computer Science Magazine

What is an Operating System?

Missoula Children's Theater

Operating system software is a key part of all computers. But what are they and how do they work?

Almost all computers have an operating system, also called an OS, to act as a stage on which software applications are run. Common operating systems are Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux.

When you press a button to start your computer, however, the OS is not the first software to run. Your computer hardware must run software to check key parts of the hardware are present and working before the operating system is run. The process of running software to check key parts of your computer is called booting up.

What does an operating system do?

Once your computer checks key parts of your hardware work, the operating system is started so your other software has a platform to work on. If you use an email software program and want to print an email, for example, your computer operating system communicates with your software and a printer to print the email.

Other critical tasks managed by your OS include connecting to the internet or other computers, managing memory used by your software applications, and reading and writing files.

 

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Also In The October 2015 Issue

October 2015 Issue: Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) connects dumb devices like refrigerators to the internet and uses software to connect them to our daily lives.

There are many operating systems for internet of things devices, from existing software used to control electronic boards to efforts by Google and Apple.

Disney Infinity 3.0, Rocket League, and Super Mario Maker are three fun video games to consider for the 2015 holiday season

You can learn a little software programming and have lots of fun with any number of coding apps available for your phone or tablet computer.

Operating system software is a key part of all computers. But what are they and how do they work?

Learning how to make kittens with JavaScript is a great way to learn how to use the free Chrome web browser to practice and learn JavaScript.

Working through a book can help parents learn programming with their kids or kids learn on their own.

Board games and card games are some of the best ways to learn about programming. You don't need a computer. Play as a family or group.

These robots also can be programmed to move around rooms, one way for kids to learn programming.

Six women were hired to use their math skills to program the ENIAC computer. They called themselves The First Programmers Club.

Nicky is a Linguistics major who learned coding skills to further her research. She's also finished a PhD, won a few big awards, and co-founded Grok Learning.

Two women created an innovative online service to teach teenage girls how to code by using video.

The new Rust programming language is designed to solve problems with operating systems and fix issues with C and other languages.

Data can become alive and pose questions as well as reveal answers to questions we have.

Links from the bottom of all the articles in this issue, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.

DRY is an acronym for Don't Repeat Yourself. It's a critical programming concept and skill to learn.

Interesting news stories about computer science, software programming, and technology for August and September 2015.

CoderDojo is a free after school club for kids ages 7-17 where kids, parents, mentors, and others play with technology and learn to code.