There is very little understanding about the underlying layer that helps translate the processes which we use on a daily basis, meaning programs. Operating systems tend to be overlooked as we go about our days. Most of us know about operating systems as a concept, something we install and never think about (unless we are distro hopping). But we rarely stop to look at the operating systems and how they work.

There are several types of operating systems, considered to be major types and in this case, specific systems like Windows and Linux are not in the conversation, but rather the type of operating system they belong to.

Here are the operating system types you should know.

Batch Operating System

Batch operating systems make use of their ability to group similar jobs and especially jobs that are written in a similar programming language. This is a problem when you have two jobs that are written in different languages. Then, you would have to manually load the compiler between each of the tasks. This is a good type of system if you’re building it to do one or two things in the same language.

Time-Sharing Operating System

Time-sharing operating systems work on the principle of giving each process a certain amount of time. When one process is finished, another takes its place. This type of system is great when you have processes that can be done in a sequence. 

The problem with this type of system is that each process gets the same treatment and if there is a higher priority process, then it still gets the same treatment and the same amount of time. This could be an obstacle in the case of actual priorities.

Distributed Operating System

A distributed operating system is basically a system which connects multiple computers through a network. One user can access all the data on all the systems. When one system stops working, the other systems keep going and the system that stops working can be fixed. The data should be secure, because anyone with credentials could access it through the central node. It is a great type of system if you need processing power controlled from a single location.

Embedded Operating System

These systems are built for a specific purpose, to do a single task. They are often pre-built for a purpose like a cash register, or anything small that requires little processing power. They are great for specific use cases but are not powerful enough for anything other than the purpose they were built for.

Real-time Operating System

Real-time systems work on the principle of clock interrupt. They can do multiple tasks, and as soon as the data is there, the system gets to work and starts crunching.

Real-time systems are great for when there is a need for immediate work. The systems use all the processing power available, but that can also be a handicap. 

Single and Multi-Task Operating System

Single and multi-task systems can perform either one or multiple tasks at the time, through time-sharing. Linux, Windows and Unix-like systems belong in this family. These systems are great, obviously, because we use them daily to perform various tasks, from work to entertainment.

These are the different major operating system types. Every one of them has its own use case and purpose, strengths and weaknesses.