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I'm wondering if it's possible to run a computer program without an operating system. Is there any way that this can be done?

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closed as not constructive by Renan, Randolph West, Canadian Luke, Mokubai, 8088 Aug 9 '12 at 2:45

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

The operating system is a computer program. So, yes. – Oliver Salzburg Aug 8 '12 at 17:20
Now I wonder if it's possible to run multiple programs simultaneously without an operating system. – Anderson Green Aug 8 '12 at 17:24
There have also been some experiments in "megalithic kernel" design. – Anderson Green Aug 8 '12 at 17:25
Can you be a bit more specific? Define programs. – CharlieRB Aug 8 '12 at 17:25
The answer is "yes". However your question isn't really a good fit for the site, since it's theoretical and not based on an actual issue that you're having. If you have something in particular in mind, please consider editing your question to provide that information. – Michael Hampton Aug 8 '12 at 17:53

"Normal" Computers

Without an operating system, You cannot run a program that was written to be run in an operating system. Most programs are of this sort.

You could write a program that runs without an operating system but this would be a very hard task, mainly because the operating system provides drivers for all the hardware. Without the OS, your program would have to drive the specific hardware directly. Not all hardware makers release details of how to do this (e.g. nVidia) but only provide drivers for specific operating systems.

You'd also have the problem of how to get the computer to load and run your program. With most desktop computers you'd have to place the program where the BIOS would expect to find an OS loader.

It is likely you'd have to write the program in a low level language - assembler or perhaps something like C without any standard libraries that are OS dependent.


You can write programs for things like the Arduino without any OS on the Arduino. there are development kits that allow you to write code in relatively high level languages, the development kits usually provide the equivalent of drivers for the specific hardware.

Operating System

You can redefine "Operating System" in a way that invalidates all the above. I am assuming you mean software comparable to the Windows or Linux operating systems.

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Do you mean that I could somehow redefine "operating system" in a way that is inconsistent with the word's standard definition? – Anderson Green Aug 8 '12 at 17:44
I've lost count of the times I've seen or heard people redefine X in a way that is inconsistent with the world's standard definition† (for many different values of X). So yes, go for it. †As if such a thing existed! – RedGrittyBrick Aug 8 '12 at 18:34

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