11.6 Operating systems
A computer requires software just to look after itself and to manage all its components; this is called the operating system. The operating system handles communication with the other software on the computer and with the hardware resources of the machine, such as the processor and memory. The operating system provides a means of running the computer's application programs. It also provides a standard user interface with windows, buttons and menus so that users can interact with the computer.
You are probably using a computer with the Microsoft Windows operating system, as required by the computer specification for this course. However, other operating systems can be used with personal computers. Apple Computer Inc. developed the Apple Macintosh OS system to run on Macintosh computers. Operating systems are usually commercial products and protected by copyright, but the Linux operating system is available free. Anyone can make improvements to Linux programs, provided they make the details of the programs available to other programmers. This is known as open source programming.