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Operating systems

Definitions related to operating systems, including tech terms about open source and proprietary operating systems and words and phrases about system programs, boot mechanisms, kernels, command interpreters, DLL libraries and drivers.

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  • .NET Framework - .NET Framework is a managed execution environment for Windows that allows software developers to create a software application in one programming language and be assured the app can work with code written in other languages.
  • 99.999 (Five nines or Five 9s) - In computers, 99.
  • access control list (ACL) - An access control list (ACL) is a table that tells a computer operating system which access rights each user has to a particular system object, such as a file directory or individual file.
  • AIX (Advanced Interactive eXecutive) - AIX is an open operating system from IBM that is based on a version of UNIX.
  • Andrew - Andrew was a joint project between Carnegie-Mellon University and IBM to set up a distributed computing environment on the CMU campus.
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) - Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) is a version of Google’s mobile operating system.
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean - Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is the version of Google's mobile operating system that follows Android 4.
  • Android OS - Android OS is a Linux-based open source platform for mobile cellular handsets developed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance.
  • Antigen - Sybari's Antigen is antivirus software for Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange.
  • APPC (Advanced Program-to-Program Communication or LU 6.2) - APPC (Advanced Program-to-Program Communication, sometimes called LU 6.
  • Apple iOS - Apple iOS is a proprietary mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
  • Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) - Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) is a set of freely downloadable program utilities and related documents from Microsoft for ensuring compatibility among application programs in Windows operating systems, especially in a large network environment.
  • Arista Extensible Operating System (Arista EOS) - Extensible Operating System (EOS) is a scalable network operating system (OS) that offers high availability, streamlines maintenance processes, and enhances network security.
  • artificial neural network (ANN) - In information technology (IT), a neural network is a system of hardware and/or software patterned after the operation of neurons in the human brain.
  • atomic - In ancient philosophy, an atom was the ultimate unit of matter on which more complex views of material reality were based.
  • autoexec.bat - AUTOEXEC.BAT is a file containing Disk Operating System commands that are executable when the computer is booted (started).
  • autonomic computing - Autonomic computing is a self-managing computing model named after, and patterned on, the human body's autonomic nervous system.
  • AutoRun - AutoRun is a feature of the Windows operating system that causes predetermined actions when certain media is inserted.
  • bash (Bourne Again Shell) - Bash (Bourne Again Shell ) is the free version of the Bourne shell distributed with Linux and GNU operating systems.
  • beep code - A beep code is the audio signal given out by a computer to announce the result of a short diagnostic testing sequence the computer performs when first powering up (called the Power-On-Self-Test or POST).
  • BeOS - BeOS is a personal computer operating system that its makers describe as designed for the multimedia applications of the future.
  • BIOS (basic input/output system) - BIOS (basic input/output system) is the program a personal computer's microprocessor uses to get the computer system started after you turn it on.
  • Bison - Bison is a program that converts the formal description of a computer language grammar into a C language program that can parse the syntax and symbols of that grammar into instructions that the computer can execute.
  • board support package - A board support package (BSP) is essential code code for a given computer hardware device that will make that device work with the computer's OS (operating system).
  • boot - To boot (as a verb; also "to boot up") a computer is to load an operating system into the computer's main memory or random access memory (RAM).
  • boot loader (boot manager) - A boot loader, also called a boot manager, is a small program that places the operating system (OS) of a computer into memory.
  • Bourne shell - The Bourne shell is the original UNIX shell (command execution program, often called a command interpreter) that was developed at AT&T.
  • BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) - BSD (originally: Berkeley Software Distribution) refers to the particular version of the UNIX operating system that was developed at and distributed from the University of California at Berkeley.
  • C shell - C shell is the UNIX shell (command execution program, often called a command interpreter) created by Bill Joy at the University of California at Berkeley as an alternative to UNIX's original shell, the Bourne shell.
  • chmod (change mode) - In a UNIX-based operating system, chmod (change mode) is a command used by a file owner or administrator to change the definition of access permissions to a file or set of files.
  • Chromebook - Google Chromebook is a thin client laptop that is configured with the Chrome operating system (Chrome OS).
  • CICS (Customer Information Control System) - CICS (Customer Information Control System) is an online transaction processing (OLTP) program from IBM that, together with the COBOL programming language, has formed over the past several decades the most common set of tools for building customer transaction applications in the world of large enterprise mainframe computing.
  • CIW (Computer Intensive Workload) - In IBM's AS/400 and iSeries line of computers, CIW (Computer Intensive Workload) is a measure that can be used to compare the workload-handling capability of different computer models when running application programs in which most of the computer processor work is done within the applications.
  • clean install - A clean install is a software installation in which any previous version is removed.
  • cloud OS - Cloud OS is a marketing label used to describe a lightweight operating system (OS) intended for netbooks or tablet PCs that access Web-based applications and stored data from remote servers.
  • cluster computing - In computers, clustering is the use of multiple computers, typically PCs or UNIX workstations, multiple storage devices, and redundant interconnections, to form what appears to users as a single highly available system.
  • cold backup (offline backup) - Cold backups are ideal for disaster recovery because they protect important data.
  • cold buffer - In data processing, a cold buffer is a buffer (segment of computer memory reserved for temporary data storage) that hasn't been used or accessed recently.
  • command - In computers, a command is a specific order from a user to the computer's operating system or to an application to perform a service, such as "Show me all my files" or "Run this program for me.
  • command interpreter - A command interpreter is the part of a computer operating system that understands and executes commands that are entered interactively by a human being or from a program.
  • command line interface (CLI) - A command line interface (CLI) is a text-based user interface (UI) used to view and manage computer files.
  • Common Desktop Environment (CDE) - The Common Desktop Environment (CDE) is a standardized graphical user interface (GUI) for open systems.
  • Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) - Part of Microsoft's .
  • Conficker - Conficker is a fast-spreading worm that targets a vulnerability (MS08-067) in Windows operating systems.
  • CONFIG.SYS - CONFIG.SYS is a text file containing DOS (Disk Operating System) commands that tell the operating system how the computer is initially set up.
  • contiguous - Contiguous describes two or more objects that are adjacent to each other.
  • Conversational Monitor System (CMS) - CMS (Conversational Monitor System) is a product that comes with IBM's VM/ESA operating system and allows each of many simultaneous interactive users to appear to have an entire mainframe computer at their personal disposal.
  • core dump - A core dump is the printing or the copying to a more permanent medium (such as a hard disk) the contents of random access memory (RAM) at one moment in time.
  • Cosmos - Cosmos is an open source, evolving, .
  • CPW (Commercial Processing Workload) - CPW (Commercial Processing Workload) is a measure used in IBM's AS/400 and iSeries line of computers to compare computer system models in terms of how efficiently each system processes a typical workload of commercial applications involving frequent database access.
  • crash - A crash is the sudden failure of a software application or operating system or of a hardware device such as a hard disk.
  • CRON script - A CRON script is a list of one or more commands to a computer operating system or application server that are to be executed at a specified time.
  • crontab - crontab is a UNIX command that creates a table or list of commands, each of which is to be executed by the operating system at a specified time.
  • Ctrl-Alt-Delete - In a personal computer with the Windows operating system, Ctrl-Alt-Delete is the combination of keyboard keys that the computer user can press at the same time to terminate an application task or to reboot the operating system (have it shut down and restart itself).
  • Cygwin - Cygwin is an open source collection of tools that allows Unix or Linux applications to be compiled and run on a Windows operating system from within a Linux-like interface.
  • Darwin - Darwin is the basic "core" of OS X, the operating system for Apple's Macintosh, and combines two well-known programs, the Mach kernel and FreeBSD, in a strategic move by Apple to make its future operating systems based on and available to others as open source code.
  • deadlock - A deadlock is a situation in which two computer programs sharing the same resource are effectively preventing each other from accessing the resource, resulting in both programs ceasing to function.
  • Debian - Debian is a popular and freely-available computer operating system that uses the Linux kernel and other program components obtained from the GNU project.
  • defragmentation - Defragmentation is the process of locating the noncontiguous fragments of data into which a computer file may be divided as it is stored on a hard disk, and rearranging the fragments and restoring them into fewer fragments or into the whole file.
  • demon - A demon (also see daemon which has a somewhat similar meaning) is a program or process, part of a larger program or process, that is dormant until a certain condition occurs and then is initiated to do its processing.
  • device driver - A device driver is a software program that controls a particular type of hardware device that is attached to a computer.
  • dial-up - Dial-up pertains to a telephone connection in a system of many lines shared by many users.
  • distribution - In marketing, distribution is the process of moving a product from its manufacturing source to its customers.
  • dock - In the Apple OS X operating system, the dock is a user-modifiable row of function or application icons that appear on the computer desktop so that the user can find and select any of them quickly.
  • Document Type Definition (DTD) - A Document Type Definition (DTD) is a specific document defining and constraining definition or set of statements that follow the rules of the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) or of the Extensible Markup Language (XML), a subset of SGML.
  • Dolly (Digital Dolly) - Dolly, also called Digital Dolly, is a program that can quickly clone (copy) drives to drives, drives to files, files to drives, or files to files.
  • domain controller - Primary domain controller (PDC) and backup domain controller (BDC) are roles that can be assigned to a server in a network of computers that use the Windows NT operating system.
  • DOS Protected Mode Interface (DPMI) - DPMI (DOS Protected Mode Interface) is a program interface that allows an application program running under the Disk Operating System (DOS) to take advantage of a DOS extender, which lets the program address a larger range of random access memory (RAM) than the 640 kilobytes to which PC programs are basically constrained.
  • Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) - In the Windows, OS/2, and (with third-party development kits) other operating systems, Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) allows information to be shared or communicated between programs.
  • Eclipse (Eclipse Foundation) - Eclipse is an open-source Java Integrated Development Environment (IDE) known for its plug-ins that allow developers to develop and test code written in other programming languages.
  • embedded hypervisor - An embedded hypervisor is a hypervisor that is programmed (embedded) directly into a processor, personal computer (PC) or server.
  • embedded operating system - An embedded operating system (OS) is a specialized operating system designed to perform a specific task for a device that is not a computer.
  • embedded system - An embedded system is a combination of computer hardware and software, either fixed in capability or programmable, designed for a specific function or functions within a larger system.
  • EmbeddedJava - EmbeddedJava is Sun Microsystems' software development platform for dedicated-purpose devices with embedded systems, such as products designed for the automotive, telecommunication, and industrial device markets.
  • enclave - In IBM's OS/390 operating system, an enclave is a representation of a business transaction or unit of work.
  • enhancement - In an information technology product, an enhancement is a noteworthy improvement to the product as part of a new version of it.
  • EPOC - EPOC is an operating system designed for small, portable computer-telephones with wireless access to phone and other information services.
  • executable - In computers, to execute a program is to run the program in the computer, and, by implication, to start it to run.
  • failover - Failover is a backup operational mode in which the functions of a system component (such as a processor, server, network, or database, for example) are assumed by secondary system components when the primary component becomes unavailable through either failure or scheduled down time.
  • fault-tolerant - Systems with integrated fault tolerance are designed to withstand multiple hardware failures to ensure continuous availability.
  • Fedora - Fedora is a popular open source Linux-based operating system.
  • file - In data processing, using an office metaphor, a file is a related collection of records.
  • file allocation table (FAT) - A file allocation table (FAT) is a table that an operating system maintains on a hard disk that provides a map of the clusters (the basic units of logical storage on a hard disk) that a file has been stored in.
  • file format - In a computer, a file format is the layout of a file in terms of how the data within the file is organized.
  • file sharing - File sharing is the public or private sharing of computer data or space in a network with various levels of access privilege.
  • file system - In a computer, a file system -- sometimes written filesystem -- is the way in which files are named and where they are placed logically for storage and retrieval.
  • Firefox OS - Firefox OS is a Linux-based mobile operating system designed for smartphones, tablets and smart TVs.
  • flat file - A flat file contains records that have no structured interrelationship.
  • flat file system - A flat file system is a system of files in which every file in the system must have a different name.
  • fragmentation - In some operating system's file systems, a data file over a certain size is stored in several "chunks" or fragments rather than in a single contiguous sequence of bits in one place on the storage medium, a process that is called fragmentation.
  • framework - In computer systems, a framework is often a layered structure indicating what kind of programs can or should be built and how they would interrelate.
  • free software - Free software is software that can be freely used, modified, and redistributed with only one restriction: any redistributed version of the software must be distributed with the original terms of free use, modification, and distribution (known as copyleft).
  • FreeBSD - FreeBSD is a popular free and open source operating system that is based on the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) version of the Unix operating system.
  • Fuchsia OS - Fuchsia OS is a cross-device, open source operating system from Google.
  • general protection fault (GPF) - General protection fault (GPF, sometimes seen as general protection error) the name of an error caused when an application program (for example, Microsoft Word or the Netscape Web browser) tries to access storage that is not designated for its use.
  • Get Windows 10 app - Get Windows 10 is an application that confirms if a computer is qualified to upgrade to Windows 10 for free and provides information on some of the key features in Microsoft's newest operating system.
  • GID (group ID or global index file) - In a Unix system, a GID (group ID) is a name that associates a system user with other users sharing something in common (perhaps a work project or a department name).
  • globbing - Globbing is the process of expanding a non-specific file name containing a wildcard character into a set of specific file names that exist in storage on a computer, server, or network.
  • GNU Linux - The GNU Linux project was created for the development of a Unix-like operating system that comes with source code that can be copied, modified, and redistributed.

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