The layer between your hardware and software. It manages disk input/output, memory allocation, graphic acceleration, hosting device drivers and various other resources.

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146
votes
19answers
26k views

32-bit vs. 64-bit systems

What are the differences between 32-bit and 64-bit systems? If you have used both of them, what kind of sharp differences have you experienced? Would it be a problem to use 32-bit programs on ...
79
votes
3answers
5k views

How does the computer know that the PC was not properly shut down?

Actually, this question struck me because of power cuts in my house. When there is a power cut, there is a sudden loss of power from the computer. How does the computer know that the shutdown was ...
64
votes
11answers
16k views

Does every OS need RAM?

Is there an OS which can be used without RAM, specifically the kind I can create a bootable pendrive from and use it in the computer? This gets awkward, since booting is essentially loading OS in ...
60
votes
5answers
5k views

What are the functions of the BIOS while the operating system is running?

I always wondered whether the BIOS (apart from conducting POST, starting the bootloader and passing control to the OS after one presses the power button) has any purpose or function while the ...
57
votes
13answers
6k views

Is Unix not a PC operating system? [closed]

I am doing my bachelor's degree at a university. In a written assignment, the professor posted the task: "Name three PC operating systems". Well, I went on an included a variety of OSes (Linux, ...
56
votes
8answers
15k views

Why is “Everything is a file” unique to the Unix operating systems?

I often hear people say "Unix's unique philosophy is that it treats everything as a file" or "In Unix, everything is a file". But I've never heard anyone explain why it is unique to Unix. So, why is ...
56
votes
3answers
78k views

How can I reinstall Windows 7 if I lost my installation DVD? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Where do I download Windows 7 (legally from Microsoft)? I have lost my Windows 7 installation DVD, but I do have the license key. How can I get a Windows 7 DVD? Can I ...
52
votes
6answers
21k views

Does Windows still rely on MS-DOS?

I am just about to start an OS course and as an Apple user I am not very familiar with the underlying details of Windows OS. I was wondering, is MS DOS still used with Windows running on top or is ...
52
votes
5answers
17k views

What technical reasons exist for not using space characters in file names?

Somebody I know expressed irritation today regarding those of us who tend not to use spaces in our filenames, e.g. NamingThingsLikeThis.txt -- despite most modern operating systems supporting spaces ...
48
votes
8answers
5k views

Before Operating systems, What concept was used to make them work? [closed]

The Operating systems have been tightly related to the computer architecture.An OS takes care for all input and output in a computer system. It manages users, processes, memory management, printing, ...
47
votes
3answers
67k views

How can I upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and keep my files and applications?

I want to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8. How can I do this while keeping all of my files in-tact? Is it possible to retain all of my applications and user settings, too?
47
votes
6answers
16k views

Using UDF on a USB flash drive

After failing to copy a file bigger than 4G to my 8G USB flash drive, I formatted it as ext3. While this is working fine for me so far, it will cause problems if I want to use it to copy files to ...
46
votes
11answers
2k views

Was Windows 95 an Operating System? [closed]

This question maybe a bit historical, but we didn't have Superuser at the time. Around 2000 when I was starting my Computer science degree, a subject was Operating systems. The teacher asked us to ...
41
votes
11answers
7k views

What is the relationship between Unix, Linux, Ubuntu and Debian?

What is the relationship between Unix, Linux, Ubuntu, and Debian? I suspect they are all Operating Systems that are based upon one another - similar to how Windows is based on DOS. Is my suspicion ...
41
votes
19answers
33k views

Is it still necessary to shut down computers?

Nowadays with our modern operating systems, is it necessary to fully shutdown computers instead of choosing to stand-by or hibernate computers (desktops and laptops)? Would there be any side-effects ...
37
votes
10answers
2k views

What does an operating system look like without a shell?

A shell like the bash or command.com (up to Windows ME) or CMD.EXE (in later versions) provides an interface that (among other things) accepts commands from the user. What does an operating system ...
37
votes
4answers
2k views

How computers display raw, low-level text and graphics

My ever-growing interest in computers is making me ask deeper questions, that we don't seem to have to ask anymore. Our computers, at boot, as far as I understand it, are in text mode, in which a ...
37
votes
1answer
2k views

Do 64bit software/applications require more RAM than their 32bit counterparts?

I just saw these minimum requirements for a game: Memory: 2GB for 32-bit OS or 4GB for 64-bit OS Why does the 64bit OS require more RAM than its 32bit counterpart?
36
votes
4answers
3k views

Linux is to mount as Windows is to _______?

So Linux "mounts" a hard drive to perform some operation such as reading/writing. Does Windows "mount" in the same way? Is it called something different in the context of Microsoft?
36
votes
10answers
2k views

Should I install 64-bit versions of operating systems?

With the release of Windows 7 coming up, 64-bit operating systems have caught my attention. What are the main advantages and disadvantages of installing 64-bit Windows 7? What type of compatibility ...
35
votes
2answers
2k views

What is there in an Operating System other than the kernel

As I understand it, the kernel does all the interaction with the hardware, and manages the memory, the I/O devices, etc. So the kernel is doing everything, yet it is just a part of the operating ...
32
votes
7answers
7k views

Other benefits of 64-bit OS apart from memory expansion?

I'm trying to convince somebody of the benefits of switching to a 64-bit OS but I'm having a hard time finding arguments other than "you can use more than 3GB RAM". Are there any other ...
28
votes
5answers
24k views

Why can't a 64 bit OS run a 16 bit application?

Why is it that a 32 bit OS which is installed on a 64 bit CPU can run old DOS 16 bit applications, but if you install a 64 bit OS it can't run those applications directly and need some sort of ...
24
votes
5answers
19k views

Overriding HOMEDRIVE and HOMEPATH as a Windows 7 user

My employer has an Active Directory group policy which sets my Windows 7 laptop HOMEDRIVE to "M:" (a mapped network drive) and my HOMEPATH to "\". Since I have read-only permissions for the root of ...
22
votes
3answers
6k views

What are the technical differences between Windows Vista and Windows 7?

I'm interested in finding an unabridged technical manual documenting all of the differences between the two operating systems. In Tanenbaum's latest edition of Modern Operating Systems (3rd Edition), ...
21
votes
7answers
5k views

How to make VIM settings computer-dependent in .vimrc?

I share my VIM configuration file between several computers. However, I want some settings to be specific for certain computers. For example, font sizes on the high-res laptop should be different to ...
21
votes
13answers
4k views

Non-Windows, non-Unix-like OS's?

Since most operating systems I've heard of besides Windows seem to derive their heritage from Unix, I've been curious whether any OS's with the following characteristics exist: Not generally ...
21
votes
3answers
1k views

Why can't I change the name of a file that's being read on Windows as I can do on Linux/Mac?

One of the things that has puzzled me ever since I started using Linux is the fact that it allows you to change the name of a file or even delete it while it is being read. An example is how I ...
21
votes
4answers
1k views

Can unexpected power loss harm a Linux install?

I am developing an application on a Linux embedded board (runs Debian) e.g. Raspberry Pi, Beagle Board/Bone, or olimex. The boards works on an environment that the electricity is cut unexpectedly (it ...
20
votes
5answers
648 views

Why does VM software need to know which OS will be running inside the VM?

When I create a new VM (with VirtualBox) it will ask me what OS will run inside the VM. Why does it need (or like) to know that? Will it result in better performance? Will some things work / not ...
19
votes
5answers
51k views

What would happen if I take my hard drive out of my current PC and put it in a new PC?

Basically, I want to get a new PC, but I have so many software/games installed on my current hard drive, that I don't want to waste the time to re-install/re-configure. Would it work if I just take ...
18
votes
4answers
3k views

Why does Linux use a swap partition when the kernel supports paging/virtual memory anyway?

As far as I understand paging and swapping, they're completely different concepts. While swapping means, that a process is either completely in physical memory or on the hard drive, with paging parts ...
17
votes
5answers
3k views

Does dual-booting an OS require a dual-core processor?

My friend claims that dual booting, using two different OSes, requires a multi-core or multi-threaded processor. Is this true? And if I install additional OSes, will my computer slow down any?
16
votes
7answers
3k views

Why does Windows not recognize files inside Linux partitions?

I dual booted my Windows XP, installing Linux Mint. I found out that when using Linux Mint, I could see and open files installed on Windows XP, but when using Windows XP, I can't see and open files ...
16
votes
5answers
44k views

What is the maximum number of partitions that can be made on a hard drive?

What is the maximum number of partitions we can make on hard disk in Windows? If it is limited to some particular number, why can we assign all the letters C through Z to drives? If it is a special ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Is killing a process still considered bad for memory management?

So I am having a little discussion with my boss about memory management. I've been told that killing a process does not allow it to deallocate memory. Is that still the case, or was that years ago? ...
16
votes
2answers
14k views

A Dark Theme for Windows 8

Is there any way for me to use Windows 8 in a dark environment? For a long time I had headaches that I couldn't fid their cause. Now, I'm using a dark visual style for my Windows 7 and since then, I ...
15
votes
3answers
6k views

What does “Windows is not a real-time operating system” mean?

I came across an application called LatencyMon, that apparently does latency monitoring. I have always understood that the more of a load you put on the processor, the less responsive, or more ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Computer architecture: Are USB keyboards less responsive due to narrow IRQ range?

Here is a statement I just thought of. Can anyone tell me whether, and why, it is true? Statement: Because USB keyboards rely on a USB generic driver and architecture that has only access to lower ...
13
votes
8answers
2k views

How can I make it difficult to install a new operating system on a certain computer?

I want to host a website on a desktop computer running Ubuntu with a Windows virtual machine. I will give away the computer in exchange for a number of months of remote web hosting. I want to add some ...
13
votes
3answers
27k views

Can a 32 bit OS run in a 64 bit processor?

What's the difference between 32 bit OS and 64 bit OS? Can a 32 bit OS run in a 64 bit processor?
13
votes
6answers
3k views

What is the difference between 64-bit and 32-bit Operating systems? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: 32-bit vs. 64-bit systems I know that there are 2 types of OSs, 64 bit and 32 bit What is the main differences between them? And if I am buying a new laptop, which one ...
13
votes
4answers
21k views

How do I know my laptop is 64-bit compatible?

I recently plan to buy a new laptop to run a 64-bit OS, but a friend told me that my current laptop is already 64-bit. How can I verify if my laptop is ready to load a 64-bit OS or not? Here is the ...
12
votes
3answers
25k views

What's the difference between an Application, Process, and Services?

How are these fundamentally different "things" on Windows? Aren't all running things Processes? It seems that every Application has an associated process that shuts it down if it is shut down. ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

Does opening a lot of tabs in Google chrome cause a performance issue?

I have heard that each tab in a Google chrome is a separate process. So if any tab crashed it won't be affected to the whole browser. So if you open so many tabs there will be as many processes in the ...
12
votes
2answers
15k views

Use physical harddisk in Virtual Box

Using Virtual Box, how can I install an OS to a secondary, physical disk, and boot it in both (at separate times) Virtual Box, and as a typical secondary OS install?
11
votes
5answers
8k views

Does low disk space affect SSD performance?

I was wondering if having less than 5-10GB of free space on an SSD would affect performance. Is it specific to SSD or is it more of an operating system aspect? For example, on an Intel X-25 G2 that ...
10
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the difference between Unix and Linux? [duplicate]

I want to know what the actual difference between Unix and Linux is. Do they share the same kernel? Is Linux built on Unix? Do programs written for Linux work on Unix and vice-versa?
10
votes
2answers
1k views

How to stop and detect the fork bomb

#include <stdlib.h> #include <unistd.h> int main() { while(1) fork(); } This is the code for a fork bomb. In our college, we connect via telnet i.e client serving protocol. ...
10
votes
4answers
5k views

How does USB device recognition work?

I'm curious how USB device recognition works in Windows. I imagine it's something like this: When you plug in a device, it tells Windows "here's my device ID to tell you what I am" Windows looks to ...