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What is an Operating System?

An Operating System (OS) is a piece of software that the computer runs that handles all of the details of the exact machine you have, and provides an ``abstracted'' view. Its role is to provide a selection of useful services that other software can rely on without them needing to worry about the machine details.

For example, an OS allows a user to create files, modify them, and delete them without ever having to worry about exactly where the data is stored, how the computer finds it, or what format the data is in on the disk.

Phil Hasnip 2007-08-23