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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.

OS/ - VMS

  • OS/2 - OS/2 is an IBM operating system for the personal computer that, when introduced in 1987, was intended to provide an alternative to Microsoft Windows for both enterprise and personal PC users.
  • OS/390 - OS/390 is the IBM operating system most commonly installed on its S/390 line of mainframe server.
  • OS/400 - OS/400 is IBM's operating system for its AS/400 and AS/400e line of business computers.
  • Palladium - Palladium is a plan from Intel, AMD, and Microsoft to build security into personal computers and servers at the microprocessor level.
  • Palm OS (Palm Operating System) - Palm OS is the computer operating system that provides a software platform for the Palm series of handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) made by Palm Inc.
  • Panther - Panther was the code name for Mac OS version 10.
  • parallel processing - In computers, parallel processing is the processing of program instructions by dividing them among multiple processors with the objective of running a program in less time.
  • parallel processing software - Parallel processing software manages the execution of a program on parallel processing hardware with the objectives of obtaining unlimited scalability (being able to handle an increasing number of interactions at the same time) and reducing execution time.
  • patch management - Patch management is an area of systems management that involves acquiring, testing, and installing multiple patches (code changes) to an administered computer system.
  • Patch Tuesday - Patch Tuesday is the unofficial name of Microsoft's scheduled release of the newest security fixes for its Windows operating system and related software applications, as detailed in the Windows Security Updates Guide.
  • PC-DOS (Personal Computer - Disk Operating System) - Also see DOS.
  • Peppermint - Peppermint is a lightweight open source operating system that is optimized for cloud computing and Web-based applications.
  • performance testing - Performance testing is the process of determining the speed, responsiveness and stability of a computer, network, software program or device under a workload.
  • Pick - Pick is a data base management system (DMS) based on a business model of data and its organization and traditionally associated with minicomputer systems for small- to medium-size businesses.
  • pipe - In computer programming, especially in UNIX operating systems, a pipe is a technique for passing information from one program process to another.
  • PKZIP (or PKZip) - PKZIP (also capitalized as PKZip) is a program, originally written for the DOS operating system, that gathers multiple files into a single compressed file that can be stored in less space and transmitted more quickly from one place to another.
  • platform - A computer platform is an underlying computer system on which application programs can run, or, in general, any base of technologies on which other technologies or processes are built.
  • policy server - A policy server is a security component of a policy-based network that provides authorization services and facilitates tracking and control of files.
  • polled interrupt - In a computer, a polled interrupt is a specific type of I/O interrupt that notifies the part of the computer containing the I/O interface that a device is ready to be read or otherwise handled but does not indicate which device.
  • POST (Power-On Self-Test) - When power is turned on, POST (Power-On Self-Test) is the diagnostic testing sequence that a computer's basic input/output system (or "starting program") runs to determine if the computer keyboard, random access memory, disk drives, and other hardware are working correctly.
  • preemptive multitasking - Preemptive multitasking is task in which a computer operating system uses some criteria to decide how long to allocate to any one task before giving another task a turn to use the operating system.
  • principle of least privilege (POLP) - The principle of least privilege (POLP), an important concept in computer security, is the practice of limiting access rights for users to the bare minimum permissions they need to perform their work.
  • process - A process is an instance of a program running in a computer.
  • program temporary fix (PTF) - In IBM, a program temporary fix (PTF) is a temporary solution to a bug in an IBM software product that is made available for customers to install.
  • QDOS (86-DOS) - QDOS was the forerunner of DOS (Disk Operating System), the first widely-used personal computer operating system.
  • QNX - QNX is a mobile operating system that was originally developed for embedded systems.
  • quiesce - To quiesce is to put a computer, a program, a thread, or some other computer resource into a temporarily inactive or inhibited state.
  • race condition - A race condition is an undesirable situation that occurs when a device or system attempts to perform two or more operations at the same time, but because of the nature of the device or system, the operations must be done in the proper sequence to be done correctly.
  • real-time operating system (RTOS) - A real-time operating system (RTOS) is an operating system that guarantees a certain capability within a specified time constraint.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) - Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is a distribution of the Linux operating system developed for the business market.
  • registry - In the Microsoft Windows operating systems beginning with Windows 95, the registry is a single place for keeping such information as what hardware is attached, what system options have been selected, how computer memory is set up, and what application programs are to be present when the operating system is started.
  • registry key - In the Windows 98, CE, NT, and 2000 operating systems, a registry key is an organizational unit in the Windows registry.
  • registry virtualization (Windows Vista) - Registry virtualization (RV) is a compatibility application that supports write operations in a registry.
  • relative identifier (RID) - In Windows 2000, the relative identifier (RID) is the part of a security ID (SID) that uniquely identifies an account or group within a domain.
  • reliability - Reliability is an attribute of any computer-related component (software, or hardware, or a network, for example) that consistently performs according to its specifications.
  • Remote Job Entry (RJE) - Remote Job Entry (RJE) is a facility that allows remote computer users to submit a job (the running of a specific program or group of programs) to a centrally-located IBM mainframe computer.
  • restore point - A restore point is a saved "snapshot" of a computer's data at a specific time.
  • root directory - In a computer file system that is organized as a hierarchy or tree, the root directory is the directory that includes all other directories.
  • Rosetta - Rosetta is a translation program that makes it possible to run most PowerPC applications on Intel-based Macintosh computers as non-native binary code.
  • safe mode - Safe mode is an alternate boot method for Windows operating systems that makes it easier to diagnose problems.
  • Samsung Tizen - Samsung Tizen is Samsung's implementation of Tizen, an open source mobile operating system.
  • SAP Basis - Basis is a set of middleware programs and tools from SAP, the German company whose comprehensive R/3 product is used to help manage large corporations.
  • seat management - Seat management is a method of coordinating all the workstations in an enterprise network by overseeing the installation, operation, and maintenance of hardware and software at each workstation.
  • Security Descriptor Definition Language (SDDL) - Security Descriptor Definition Language (SDDL) is a formal way to specify Microsoft Windows security descriptors or text strings that describe who owns various objects such as files in the system.
  • security identifier (SID) - In Windows NT and 2000 operating systems, the security identifier (SID) is a unique alphanumeric character string that identifies each operating system and each user in a network of NT/2000 systems.
  • seize - To seize is to take or wrest control of something that you did not previously control.
  • server virtualization - Server virtualization is the masking of server resources, including the number and identity of individual physical servers, processors, and operating systems, from server users.
  • serverless backup - Serverless data backup removes backup procedures from production servers so that the time usually spent on backup functions can be used for other server tasks.
  • shell - Shell is a UNIX term for the interactive user interface with an operating system.
  • shell script - A shell script is a text file that contains a sequence of commands for a UNIX-based operating system.
  • shortcut - In general, a shortcut is a path that is shorter than the usual or formal path to something or a method of operation that saves time over the regular operation.
  • shrink wrap license - A shrink wrap license is an end user agreement (EULA) that is enclosed with software in plastic-wrapped packaging.
  • single-system image (SSI) - Single-system image (SSI) is the idea that the resources provided by cluster computing or in any system which aggregates resources should present a single interface to the user.
  • Slackware - Slackware is the earliest distribution of the Linux operating system that is still being developed.
  • Smart Tags - Microsoft's Smart Tags were a proposed feature of Windows XP that would allow Microsoft and its partners to insert their own links into any Web page viewed through its Internet Explorer browser.
  • software - Software is a set of instructions, data or programs used to operate computers and execute specific tasks.
  • Solaris - Solaris is the computer operating system that Sun Microsystems provides for its family of Scalable Processor Architecture-based processors as well as for Intel-based processors.
  • stack smashing - Stack smashing is causing a stack in a computer application or operating system to overflow.
  • stress testing - Stress testing is the process of determining the ability of a computer, network, program or device to maintain a certain level of effectiveness under unfavorable conditions.
  • sudo (superuser do) - Sudo (superuser do) is a utility for UNIX- and Linux-based systems that provides an efficient way to give specific users permission to use specific system commands at the root (most powerful) level of the system.
  • suffix - A suffix is something added at the end of a word that conditions its usage or meaning.
  • SunOS - SunOS was the UNIX-based operating system for Scalable Processor Architecture-based workstations and servers from Sun Microsystems.
  • Superdome - Superdome is a high-end 64-bit, Hewlett-Packard (HP) PA-8600 processor-based UNIX server designed for e-commerce customers using very large databases.
  • supervisor call (SVC) - In computers, especially IBM mainframes, a supervisor call (SVC) is a processor instruction that directs the processor to pass control of the computer to the operating system's supervisor program.
  • SuSE - SuSE (pronounced soo'-sah) is a German Linux distribution provider and business unit of Novell, Inc.
  • swap file (swap space or pagefile) - A swap file (or swap space or, in Windows NT, a pagefile) is a space on a hard disk used as the virtual memory extension of a computer's real memory (RAM).
  • sysplex and Parallel Sysplex - A sysplex is IBM's systems complex (the word sysplex comes from the first part of the word system and the last part of the word complex), introduced in 1990 as a platform for the MVS/ESA operating system for IBM mainframe servers.
  • Sysprep (System Preparation Tool) - Sysprep is Microsoft's System Preparation tool intended to duplicate, test and deliver new installations for the Windows operating system based on an established installation.
  • system software - System software is a type of computer program that is designed to run a computer’s hardware and application programs.
  • system tray - The system tray (or "systray") is a section of the taskbars in the Microsoft Windows desktop user interface that is used to display the clock and the icons of certain programs so that a user is continually reminded that they are there and can easily click one of them.
  • System V (System 5) - System V (System 5) was an early form of the Unix operating system, originally developed by AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph).
  • TailsOS - TailsOS is a LiveDistro-based operating system that is configured to run from removable storage and to leave no information stored on the computer after the user’s session.
  • tar (Tape ARchive) - Tar (for "Tape ARchive") is a UNIX shell command that creates a single file called an "archive" from a number of specified files or extracts the files from such an archive.
  • tarball (tar archive) - Tarball is a jargon term for a tar archive - a group of files collected together as one.
  • task - In computer programming, a task is a basic unit of programming that an operating system controls.
  • taskbar - In the graphical user interface (GUI) for a computer operating system or application, a taskbar is a visual device on the desktop that typically shows the user which applications (tasks) are currently active and running.
  • terminate and stay resident (TSR) - A terminate and stay resident (TSR) program is one that is set up to be loaded and then remain in computer memory so that it is quickly accessible when a user presses a certain keyboard combination.
  • thrashing - Thrashing is computer activity that makes little or no progress, usually because memory or other resources have become exhausted or too limited to perform needed operations.
  • Tiger - Tiger is the the code name for Mac OS version 10.
  • timestamp - A timestamp is the current time of an event that is recorded by a computer.
  • Tizen - Tizen is an open source mobile operating system built on the Linux kernel and offered in versions for multiple platforms, including smartphones, tablets, wearable computers, netbooks, digital televisions and in-vehicle systems.
  • TRON (The Real-Time Operating System Nucleus) - TRON (The Real-Time Operating System Nucleus) is a standard real-time operating system (RTOS) kernel that can be tailored to any embedded system.
  • Tux - Tux, the penguin, is the generally accepted official logo for the Linux operating system.
  • TV operating system - A TV operating system (TV OS) is the bootable software in smart TVs and set top boxes that allows a user to control and access to a smart TV’s advanced features and connected devices through a graphical user interface (GUI).
  • TweakUI - TweakUI is a software utility that lets Windows 9x, Windows NT, and Windows 2000 users modify the desktop user interface and other system characteristics to their liking.
  • Unix - Unix -- often spelled UNIX, especially as an official trademark -- is a multi-user operating system designed for flexibility and adaptability.
  • utility - In computers, a utility is a small program that provides an addition to the capabilities provided by the operating system.
  • vectored interrupt - In a computer, a vectored interrupt is an I/O interrupt that tells the part of the computer that handles I/O interrupts at the hardware level that a request for attention from an I/O device has been received and and also identifies the device that sent the request.
  • virtual appliance - A virtual appliance is a virtual machine image file consisting of a pre-configured operating system environment and a single application.
  • virtual desktop manager - A virtual desktop manager is a program that allows a computer user to have more than one user interface available simultaneously on a single computer.
  • virtual device driver - In certain Microsoft operating systems, a virtual device driver is a program that handles software interrupts from the operating system (rather than hardware interrupts) for each of the computer's main hardware devices, including the hard disk drive controller, keyboard, and serial and parallel ports.
  • Virtual File Allocation Table (VFAT) - Virtual File Allocation Table (VFAT) is the part of the Windows 95 and later operating system that handles long file names, which otherwise could not be handled by the original file allocation table file allocation table (FAT) programming.
  • virtual machine (VM) - A virtual machine (VM) is a software computer that, like a physical computer, runs an operating system and applications.
  • Virtual PC - Virtual PC is a program that emulates Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, as well as IBM OS/2, or Linux on a Macintosh personal computer, assuming it's equipped with a sufficiently fast microprocessor.
  • virtualization - Virtualization is the creation of a virtual version of something, with the goal of centralizing administrative tasks while improving scalability and workloads.
  • Virtuozzo - Virtuozzo is a software application for enterprise server virtualization that allows an administrator to create virtual environments on a host computer at the operating system (OS) layer.
  • visual computing - Visual computing is computing that lets you interact with and control work by manipulating visual images either as direct work objects or as objects representing other objects that are not necessarily visual themselves.
  • VMS (Virtual Memory System) - VMS (Virtual Memory System) is an operating system from the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) that runs in its older mid-range computers.

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