Strand 3: IT Systems

3.2 Software

System Software


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System Software is the basic software that manages the hardware and maintains a computer. Types of system software are Operating Systems (OS), drivers, any utility programs, and BIOS.

An Operating System is a system of programs that help keep a computer running. It will manage multitasking of programs, as a CPU can only do one process at a time. It creates Virtual memory that helps keeping the RAM free. It manages the file system of the computer and looks after the authentication of users and authorization of running programs. The OS can be looked at as the communication step between the applications and the hardware, but also as the caretaker of the computer.


'Windows 7' Operating System
'Windows 7' Operating System

The Mac OS 'X Leopard'
The Mac OS 'X Leopard'

'Ubuntu' a Linux OS
'Ubuntu' a Linux OS




Here is a good article about OSs:
OS - __http://computer.howstuffworks.com/operating-system1.htm__

Utility programs are all the other programs that the OS doesn’t do. Some of the functions of utility programs are virus scanning, compressing software, networking, file transferring, etc. Many utility programs look very much like applications, but the average user will probably never need to use them.


Drivers are a software that will come with new peripheral hardware, like a printer. This software alows the computer to uses it, with out it the printer wouldn't work at all. Each driver is specific for a single type of hardware for a single OS. Sometimes the the software comes with hardware but some hardware, like printers it is common that it would be on with the OS. Othertimes it needs to be downloaded. These are some pieces of hardware that need drivers installed to work:
Video Card
Video Card

Scanner
Scanner

Printer
Printer




A driver is like a translator for an OS (and sometimes applications) and talks to the hardware for the OS and allows them to control the hardware. Hardware needs specific commands and so an OS that isn’t programmed for the hardware won’t be able to use it.

BIOS, which stands for ‘basic input-output system’, is the program that bootstraps the computer. The BIOS system is used for identifying hardware, testing to make sure it works, and starts it up.


System software is also what some people call for the programs that help test and make software, as can be seen in the top image under the system software area.