1. Operating Systems
In order to grasp the concept of Operating Systems and understand the different types of windows available we first need to cover some basic definitions.
1.1 Computer Concepts
A computer is an electronic device, operating under the control of instructions stored in its own memory unit.
The main function of a computer is to process data. In order to process data we need the following:
1. Input – Mouse, Keyboard
2. Process Unit –CPU
3. Output – Printer, Monitor
4. Storage – Hard Disk Drive (permanent storage)
Software, also referred to a computer programs, is a general term for the various kinds of programs used by a computer.
Specifically, there are two types of software, Systems software and Application software.
System software is what operates and controls the computer hardware. Application software allows users to do things like create text documents, play
games, listen to music, or surf the web.
Within System software, a main component is the operating system or OS.
The Operating System is a collection of software that manages computer hardware resources and provides common services for computer programs. Application software needs an Operating System for it to function. Essentially, the OS acts as an intermediary between programs and the computer hardware.
Among many other things, the OS interacts with the RAM or Random Access Memory and the CPU or Central Processing Unit
RAM memory is volatile meaning that when the computer is shut off it is not stored.
The CPU is what processes and manages the resources of the computer. Think of it as the brains of the computer.
The RAM and CPU are housed in what is called the motherboard.
When a programmer sits down to write a program which is a set of instructions for your computer he or she is using what is called a programming language which consist of symbols and statements that give the computer directions to perform a task. What he writes in this language is referred to as “source code or code”. Many of these languages exist and they all have pros and cons.
Examples are ruby on rails, golang, PHP, visual basic, java, C++
These languages however, are not what the computer understands. Because computers are electrical devices, they only understand machine language or binary code.
Binary code is composed of only 0s and 1s. For example, the lower case letter a is represented by 01100001.
Binary Code is the language of the CPU.
The translation from the source code into binary is done by a separate program called a compiler.
1.2 Windows XP
Windows XP was released almost 12 years ago and is still a widely used platform. Since Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 have been released. However, Windows Vista was not a popular operating system and proved to have many issues and was difficult to work with. The best of these OS’s have been Windows XP and Windows 7 which is the most widely used operating system right now. Although Windows 7 was released in 2009, Windows XP remained in the lead of market share until 2011.
1.3 Windows 7
Windows 7shares many features with other Windows Programs, so once you learn how to work with Windows 7, you will find it easier to use the programs that run on your computer, and you will also be able to operate Windows XP.
Think of windows 7 as a better Windows XP in every way. It is more efficient on the resources you have. For example it uses less memory to function. It is also a lot faster, more organized, more intuitive, and best of all it comes with a sleek design that is very modern and clean.
The taskbar at the bottom contains the start button as well as other buttons representing programs, folders, and files.
On the desktop, shortcuts or quick access paths to programs can be placed. Typically, when you install a new program, the program asks you if you would like to create a shortcut. Although these are a good thing and convenient make sure not to have too many as it will slow your computer down.
When deleting files, they are automatically sent to the recycling bin; however, they are not actually deleted. The only way to permanently delete a file is to right-click the recycling bin and click on “Empty Recycle Bin”.
Windows 7 allows users to work on Multiple windows simultaneously, for example you could open a webpage and drag it to the left most side of the computer and it will be pin itself there and do the same to the right side with a word document and see both of them at the same time. This avoids having to switch back and forth between windows.
1.4 Windows 8
Windows 8 completely remodeled the way windows looked like never before. So much so, that some people spent 15 minutes just trying to get into the desktop and many more couldn’t figure it out and quit.
The new windows 8 required you to drag down on your screen to see the login screen, and it only worked if you dragged from top to bottom and it didn’t come with so much as a hint. After logging in, you were presented with a GUI that was never before seen in any prior windows OS.
This display instead of being called a desktop is now called the Metro. The metro consists of many apps although called Tiles in Windows 8.
The taskbar and other tools are hidden and you must point or drag from the right side of the screen. However, every toolbar and search bar is tuned only to work in the specific area that you are in.
For example, if you are in Gmail, you will only see tool options for Gmail; if you are in pictures you will only see tool options or search options for pictures.
If you would like to go to the original desktop, you have to click on the desktop tile and then sent there.
Essentially, Windows 8 is a hybrid between a mobile operating system and a traditional windows OS. For this very reason is why sales have been lower than expected and people are reluctant to switch over from windows 7.
1.5 Linux and Mac OS
UNIX was one of the first operating systems to be created in 1971.
The Linux operating system is derived UNIX and is what is called Open Source. It is free and can be edited and revised by anyone instead of the privately owned Mac OS by Apple and Windows by Microsoft.
Linux is an extremely efficient and reliable operating system that is used by many giant corporations because they don’t need to pay to upgrade or buy licenses for their computers. Linux is by the people and for the people it is constantly being improved and added useful features to.
Mac OS is also derived from UNIX and that is why it is such a good operating system and one that is continually attaining market share.
Contrary to popular belief, Macs can get viruses, however, the reason they usually don’t is that the vast majority of computers are still Windows and thus it is more effective to build a virus that attacks a Windows based machine than a Mac.
Can jam fans which may also cause overheating
.6 The System
The OS you are most likely to work with is currently Windows 7 and thus, we will spend our time focused on Windows 7.
When working with windows, it is important to note that the Internet is the best place for more information. Windows is such a widely used system that the probability that your question has already been asked and answered by others is very high. If you encounter error messages, or just can’t find how to do something Google it! Not only will you learn a lot, but also your problem will be most likely resolved. Hoverer, sometimes it takes a while to find exactly what you are looking for so be patient.
Windows 7 requires 1 GB of RAM and a video card that supports DirectX 9 graphics standard and has at least 128 MB of graphics memory to function properly.
The above requirements are the absolute minimum and it is important to note that you want more than these numbers in your computer as overtime your computer will require more than this as you begin to install software, music, photos, games, and other files that take up memory. A good processor extremely important and you should aim to have a processor that is 2.5GHz or greater.
To see information about your computer such as the hardware and software that is installed you need to access the System Window.
To open the System window: Click Start then Right-click Computer then click on Properties.
As discussed in lesson 1, the Desktop is the initial screen that is displayed Windows Desktop provides a graphical user interface (GUI).
On the desktop you will find the Start menu.
The Start Menu shows the
Username shown at the top right
Applications used often are listed in the white left column (can change from
time to time)
User libraries, files and OS utilities are listed in the dark right column
Windows Explorer and the Computer Window are two of the most useful tools to explore files and folders.
To Open the Computer Window in Windows, click Start, and select Computer To Open Windows Explorer Click the yellow Windows Explorer icon in the
taskbar Right-click Start and select Open Windows Explorer from the menu.
Files on a computer all have a path, which has information regarding the location of the file just like your address indicates the location of your house.
When dealing with folders and files it is very important to know how to zip files.
Zipped folders compress all the information tightly to take up less space, on your computer, USB, or email attachment.
You cannot send folders through email but you can send zipped folders.
- Right click on the white area of your documents section or on your desktop
- Select the option that says folder
- Drag all the files that you want into that folder.
- Right click the folder that you created and click on “compressed (zipped) folder.
- A new folder will be created with a zipper over it.
To get your Windows 7 System running smoothly, it is best to configure some very important aspects of it.
Most Windows problems stem from poor maintenance. In order to avoid this we must properly configure the maintenance aspect of the system. These tips and steps will ensure that your operating system is operating, as it should be.
Critical Windows settings you need to verify:
1. Windows Updates. Install any important Windows updates or service packs that are waiting to be installed and verify that Windows Updates is configured to automatically allow updating.
2. Antivirus software. To protect a system against malicious attack, you also need to verify that antivirus software is configured to scan the system regularly and that it is up to date.
3. Network location setting. To secure the computer against attack from the network, check that the Windows network location is set correctly.
For best performance, Windows needs about 15 percent free space on the hard drive that it uses.
Set up a good maintenance plan for your computer
Use the Windows Disk Cleanup utility to delete temporary files on the drive.
Use the Defragment tool
Defragment: to rearrange fragments or parts of files so each file is stored in contiguous clusters.
Defragmenting a solid-state drive can reduce the life of the drive and is not recommended.
Uninstall software you no longer use
An Important part of maintaining windows is backing up the files you need. Recommended to try a backup process before it is actually needed and also setting up backup schedules.
This can be done through the control panel. The Control Panel contains applets used to manage the system.
To access the control panel simply Click Start and then click Control Panel.
A very important aspect of maintaining your computer so that your windows 7 will run efficiently is reducing dust.
Remember your computer is an electrical machine! Dust:
Insulates PC parts like a blanket causing overheating
Can jam fans which may also cause overheating
- Dust can be blown out of the case using a can of compressed air or by using a antistatic vacuum
- Should be part of a regular maintenance program (at least twice a year)
- Good idea to blow or vacuum keyboard as well 1.6.3 Personalization
Windows 7 has many features for personalizing your system. Right-click anywhere on the desktop and then choose Personalize from the shortcut menu. The same can also be done via the control panel.