Types of operating systems, their advantages, and disadvantages

types of operating system, batch, network, distributed, embedded, timesharing, real time

Types of operating systems depend on how they process data and carry out the execution of commands. The most modern operating system allows for multiuser, multiprocessing, and multiprogramming. This increase the processing speed and increases system resource utilization such as CPU and main memory.

There are many types of operating systems but in this article, we discuss batch, network, distributed, real-time, time sharing, multiprocessing, and embedded operating systems. We also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each of these types of systems.

Batch operating system

This is a type of operating system where related processes are batched and processed together. The processes are collected and then grouped for execution.

When the process is in execution there is no direct interaction between the user and the system. Each user prepared their work away from the computer (offline) then it is submitted to execution. They were mostly used in mainframe computers. The system operates on a first come first serve bases.  Batches are executed in a queue when they arrived.

Advantages of batch processing.

  1. Since no user interaction, the system automatically can move from executing one batch process to another.
  2. It has improved CPU utilization.
  3. Batch systems can be used to execute large workloads without user interaction.
  4. Many users can submit their work for execution.

Disadvantages of batch operating system

  1. It is very hard to debug the system in case of an error.
  2. When a  job is suspended it may have to wait for a long time before it is assigned to the CPU to progress.

Network operating system

The operating system is installed on a central server computer that controls and serves other devices. A network operating system (NOS) is used in a network environment where it manages the applications, users’ accounts, and system security, provides services, and manages network resources for organizations. Windows server 2022 is an example of a network operating system.

Advantages of network operating system

  1. It offers centralized security control. This provides a secure system.
  2. Configurations are done from one central point.
  3. They enable sharing of resources such as printers and storage devices.
  4. It is simple to install the system update from the server to all other devices.

Disadvantages of network operating system

  1. The cost of acquiring and maintaining a server is high.
  2. It requires a qualified system administrator to manage the server and network.
  3. It has a single point of failure.
  4. It depends on the network operates. When the network is down the whole system is not operational.
  5. It requires regular updates to meet security and operational needs.

Distributed operating systems

This is a type of system where independent computers that have their CPU and main memory are linked together to execute and server services to the user. They combine their hardware resources to achieve a common objective in terms of execution. In a distributed system, there is no superior computer among them unlike in a network system where the server is more powerful. The systems are connected using a very high-speed network. From the user’s point, the system looks like a single system.

Advantages of distributed operating system

  1. Since the systems are distributed if one node (computer) fails then the user can still get services from others.
  2. They allow sharing of resources such as processing power and main memory.
  3. It is flexible for expansion since you just need to add another node to the system and increase its capacity.
  4. It has high fault tolerance since the computers are independent.
  5. Users may use cheap low specification devices to cut costs instead of having an expensive server computer.

Disadvantages of distributed operating system

  1. It is hard to guarantee system security of distributed systems that are in different physical locations
  2. The system may be slow in execution since it depends on the network speed. Low network speed means slower system collaboration.
  3. It requires a specialist to manage and monitor that all independent systems are online and operational.
  4.  It is hard to manage distributed databases which the system will be accessing data from.
  5. It is expensive to maintain nodes and systems that are distributed.

Real-time operating system

These operating systems deal with systems that a time critical. The application must be executed within a given time without delay. If execution is not done within the stipulated time then the system fails. These systems are mostly used in robot operations, reservation systems, air traffic control, and real-time simulation system among others.

There are 2 major types of real-time systems.

Hard real-time: these systems’ time is counted in terms of microseconds and if they are not followed the whole system fails. No time difference should be noted in these otherwise the system will not function as expected. The time limit is strict to the required time.

Soft real-time: on these, they are still critical to time but a small delay may not cause a major failure to the system. The time limit allocated is relaxed a bit.

Advantages of real-time operating systems

  1. Implementing the system is expensive since all resources are concentrated on ensuring execution is fast as possible.
  2. It requires less main memory since data for execution is small.
  3. They utilize system resources such as CPU and memory to the maximum.
  4. A real-time system in an ideal situation should be error-free.

Disadvantages of real-time operating systems

  1. They are expensive to implement and maintain.
  2. To maintain system integrity low priority process may never execute.
  3. To avoid error the system implements a low level of multiprogramming. This reduces the point of failure.
  4. It allows a few task switching. Switching from one process consumes additional delay time which the system tries to eliminate.

Timesharing operating system

Timesharing systems are also multiprogramming meaning they can execute many processes at the same time.  In time-sharing and multiprogramming the CPU time is divided into a time slot or quantum of time that each process is allocated. When a process finishes its allocated time it is preempted from the CPU and another is assigned. 

Take a scenario of waiting in a queue to see the boss. Each person who enters the office is assigned five minutes after that you leave the office for the next person whether you are through with your business or not.  When you leave the office without concluding you go back to the queue to wait for another turn of five minutes. 

These systems help to support multiprogramming and the multiuser system where either a process or a user is assigned a time slot in the CPU operation.

Advantages of a timesharing system

  1. All processes and users are treated fairly.
  2. It requires queue management methods since there will always so a process waiting to get the CPU.
  3. CPU idle time is reduced since there will be a process that is being processed of waiting.
  4. It has a high response time.
  5. It offers a high degree of multiprogramming.

Disadvantages of a timesharing system

  1. It consumes a lot of system resources such as memory. It will require somewhere to the store process before they can be processed hence requiring high memory capacity.
  2. It has issues with data integrity from sharing data from different users and processes.
  3. It will require the swapping of processes from and to the time-consuming memory main.
  4. It requires high system specifications to handle the workload and switching.

Multiprocessing operating system

These are the operating systems that support the use of more than one computer processor to execute its operation. Many processor work on multiple processes. Processor work in parallel and connect to the memory, BUSes input/output devices for operation. The system increase execution speed since process are executed by many processors at the same time.

Advantages of multiprocessing operating system

  1. It increases system throughput. Throughput is the number of tasks that can be executed in a given unit of time.
  2. They are a more reliable system setup since even if one processor fails others may compensate.
  3. Parallel processing offers high system performance and resource utilization.

Disadvantages of multiprocessing operating system

  1. They require large memory to hold processes that are being executed.
  2. It is expensive to implement because of the resources required.
  3. It is difficult to implement, process scheduling, and resource allocation since we involve more than one processor.

Embedded operating system

An Embedded system is a specialized type of operating system that is designed for a specific device and function. Most digital devices that are not computer use embedded operating systems. They are used in devices such as networking devices, smart TVs, wearable devices, car control systems, robot control systems, internet of things (IoT) devices, GPS systems, airplane navigation systems, and drone operation systems among many other areas.

Advantages of embedded operating system

  1. They are specialized for specific devices and functions.
  2. They are fast since they are meant for a single operation.
  3. They use fewer resources compared to other types of operating systems.
  4. Mostly they are installed by the device manufacturers.

Disadvantages of embedded operating system

  1. They can only be used for specific hardware design and specific functions.
  2. They are hard to upgrade the operating system.
  3. It is hard to troubleshoot where the problem is. It may require doing a factory reset to default settings.