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What is System Software – 5 Types of System Software

Published August 2, 2020

Introduction

System software is the main software that is used to control and run the computer’s hardware.

If we divide computer as layers so we can say that system software is the middle layer that performs the role to interact and control between application software and hardware.

The operating system (OS) is the best example to understand the system software.

If we divide system software into types. So there are 5 types of the system software which I think are the most considerable system software.

Types of system software with examples

Let’s learn about system software.

Here are 5 types of system software.

  • Operating System
  • Device Driver
  • Firmware
  • Translator
  • Utility

Operating System

This is the main type of system software that is firstly installed on the computer when we buy the new one or use the already existing computer.

This is very necessary software because it is the layer that connects computer hardware to interact the front user.

Whenever a computer is on with electric power. The operating system is the first software that is loaded to the memory before any other software.

Let’s understand the importance of the operating system with a little example.

Let says you want to print a document using printer.

You will write a document with a word processor software and will use keyboard to write document and use mouse to interact with the interface of word processing software.

All the things which you are writing or interacting with are displayed on the monitor.

All these keyboards, monitors, printers and mouse are used due to the operating system. Because it gives our instructions to hardware which we are typing or the mouse cursor which we are moving.

And then finally the output that we see on the monitor and after verifying the document then we enter the command of print to printer.

All these things are controlled by an operating system.

In the 80s an operating system was used which was called the “Disk Operating System” (DOS).

That was also a type of operating system but without any mouse only keyboard. Because we only need to enter the commands in order to work done.

But in modern century all the things are visible in a very beautiful and interactive graphical user interface (GUI).

You are given a mouse that controls all your work with only 2 or 3 buttons clicks.

Desktop of your modern operating system is the best example where all the icons are available and you can interact with using mouse and keyboard.

What is system software
Windows 10 – the best example of graphical system software

There also many types of operating systems. Which are listed below.

Types of operating systems

  • Real-Time OS: This acts in real-time and gives sudden response. It is used in special purpose in special machines. Like in robots, cars and our internet modems.
  • Single-user & Single-task OS: These are the operating systems that are used by only single user and are mostly perform single task at a time. The best example of this type of operating system is the mobile phone.
  • Multi-user OS: In this type of OS many user uses this operating system via network environment and share their data and receives data. Server OS is the best example for multi-user operating system.
  • Network OS: This type of OS is used to share resources such as files, printers in a specific network of computers.
  • Internet/Web OS: These types of operating system run on the web browser online.
  • Mobile OS: This is the operating system that is used to run mobile phones, tablets and other mobile devices.

Functions of Operating Systems

  • The major function of an operating system is that they provide an interaction between the user and the hardware via beautiful GUI.
  • Operating system manages the memory allocations and memory spaces for the application software.
  • Processes the devices input/output, instructions and application management.
  • Configures and manages some internal devices.
  • Manages the storage in multi network or single user computers.
  • Manages security of files and applications.
  • An operating system is the responsible for managing the input and output devices.
  • Another major function of detecting, installing and troubleshooting of the devices.
  • Monitors system performance via many management tools like task manager.
  • Produces error message if an error occurs during processes.
  • Implement interface for the purpose of network communication.
  • Management of printer of single or multi-user system.
  • Internal or network file management.

Examples of Operating system

  • Windows 10
  • Mac OS
  • Ubuntu
  • Linux Mint
  • Red-Hat Linux

Network/Server OS

  • Ubuntu Server
  • Windows Server
  • Red Hat Enterprise

Internet/Web OS

  • Chrome OS
  • Club Linux
  • Remix OS

Mobile OS

  • iOS
  • Android OS
  • Windows Phone OS
  • Symbian OS

Device Drivers

The second most important types of system software is the device drivers.

With the help of device driver operating system interact with the other hardware components.

A device driver is a bundle of files that enables hardware to use by the operating system.

Let say if we want to attach printer with the computer, we cannot do this until we install the driver of the printer.

Examples of devices which require drivers

  • Mouse
  • Keyboard
  • Soundcard
  • Display card
  • Network card
  • Printer

Usually the mouse, keyboard and soundcard usually pre-installed with operating system.

But other drivers you need to download from manufacturers official website.

Intel drivers page

Firmware

Firmware is also a system software that is preinstalled in the hardware chip memory.

This memory is called Read Only Memory (ROM) or (EPROM). Where we can write instructions for that hardware that how will that interact with the operating system.

And without firmware a hardware couldn’t be accessible by the operating system.

In firmware there are also some instructions written, that how to interact with the other input/output devices.

A board that stores firmware software

BIOS and UEFI

This is the most important system software that is pre-installed by the manufacturer on the mother board.

And it could be accessed by the old BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) or with the new UEFI (Unified Extended Firmware Interface) plateforms.

It is the configuration interface when the computer is powered on then it goes through POST ( Power On Self Test).

BIOS setup interface

The motherboard firmware starts and wakes up all the hardware components to verify that all the components are fine and working.

Let say if the RAM is damaged or not working properly the System will not start and shut down until the RAM will not be fixed.

A user can also change from UEFI to BIOS or BIOS to UEFI. By pressing a special key (usually a function key) and then a configuration page will be loaded. Through which a user can manage and configure all the required settings.

BIOS & UEFI Explained

Programming Language Translators

These are the most important system software specially for developers like me.

This is the software that is use to convert a high level language to a machine instructions.

Usually there are many programming languages in the world. But all they are the modern high level languages like (C++, C#, Java, PHP, JavaScript etc).

The most popular language translators are compilers, assemblers and interpreters.

They are usually designed by different computer manufactures.

Translators system software can translate the high level language code to low level language like the 0s and 1s form that is the lowest level language possible.

Translators also helps in many tasks.

  • They identify the errors in the code, and allows you to change your code again.
  • Prepares a report if the coding rules are not followed properly.
  • Allocate the data storage in the memory for the program.
  • Create list for both source code and program details.
Computer Translators Explained

Utilities

Utilities software are also system software that provides some security and utility to user to better experience with the computer.

These software optimize your computer for better speed, safe your computer from virus and helps your data keeping secure.

Here are some of the utility software:

  • Antivirus and security software that makes you computer secure and safe from malware.
  • Disk partition and disk management software.
  • File compression software like 7-zip, WinRar, Winzip.
  • Data backup and recovery software like Recovery My Files, Cobian and Comodo.
  • Firewall and protection against virus and threats, e.g, Windows Firewall.