Karbosguide.com - Module 6c1.

About operating systems and driver programs


The contents:

  • What is an operating system?
  • The operating system recognizes hardware

    On the following pages:

  • BIOS or driver programs
  • Which operating systems?
  • DOS control of hardware
  • 32 bit drivers and installation
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  • Previous page


  • Click & Learn deals primarily with hardware. In these pages I will cover the operating system as it connects downward towards hardware. The operating system is closely associated with the ROM BIOS program routines, which are described in module 2a . The two program layers (operating system + BIOS) are called system software and it is very useful to understand their importance for the PC.

    Let us start by studying what an operating system really is.


    What is an operating system?

    Traditionally the operating system consists of three parts:

    Part Function
    Kernel The low level core being loaded after the boot process.
    Has many functions such as control of the data flow between memory and I/O units.
    Shell The user interface
    File system A standard for disk formatting

    The operating system can also be evaluated from these viewpoints:

  • An operating system is a number of files, which are read from the hard disk at the end of the PC start-up routine.

  • An operating system is a program layer. It connects to the PC hardware, to facilitate optimal execution of the user programs.

    The first definition does not say much. Let us start with the second: The operating systems links software and hardware together. It has to enable user programs, like Works, Office, etc., to function with all possible hardware configurations. You can imagine the relationship between hardware and user programs thus:

  • Hardware is clumpsy and dissimilar. There are untold variations of PCs. They can have one or another type hard disk, CPU, video card, etc. All of these various PC configurations behave each in their own way.

  • The user programs are 100% similar. They are off the shelf products, which expect the PC to respond in a certain manner.

    How do we make these two layers work together? Can we eliminate, take out, the differences in the PC hardware, so a standard product like Works just functions? Yes we can. We read in an operating system - a system layer, which smoothes out and standardizes the hardware:

    You should understand the operating system as a necessary layer, which smoothes out bumps and pot holes in your PC's hardware. This will give the user programs a stable, even work platform.


    The operating system recognizes hardware

    The PC's hardware represents resources relative to the user program.

    Think of your word processing program: You want to print your text. The program issues a print order, expecting that the document will be printed as designed. The word processing program dispatches data according to your commands. How they are translated to signals understood by your printer - that is not the word processing program's problem. The printer is a resource relative to the word processing program. The connections to these resources is via the operating system. This holds true for all the resources, which are included in the PC hardware:

    As you can see, the operating system has a very central function in the PC. So with that placement, it must be able to recognize all forms and types of hardware. There is no point in connecting a new mouse, if it does not work! Then what makes it work - the operating system. The system must recognize your mouse!


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    Learn more

    Also see The Software Tips

    Read of module 7a and module 7b about installation monitor and video card in Windows 95/98!

    Read about chip sets on the motherboard in module 2d

    Read module 5a about expansion cards, where we evaluate the I/O buses from the port side.

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