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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 list of rules that specifies which users or systems are granted or denied access to a particular object or system resource.
  • AIX (Advanced Interactive eXecutive) - AIX is an open operating system from IBM that is based on a version of UNIX.
  • Android OS - Android OS is a Linux-based mobile operating system that primarily runs on smartphones and tablets.
  • Apple iOS - Apple iOS is a proprietary mobile operating system that runs on mobile devices such as 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.
  • atomic - In ancient philosophy, an atom was the ultimate unit of matter on which more complex views of material reality were based.
  • attribute - In general, an attribute is a property, quality, or characteristic that something or someone has.
  • Automatic Private IP Addressing (APIPA) - Automatic Private IP Addressing (APIPA) is a feature of Windows-based OSes -- included since Windows 98 and Windows ME -- that enables a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol client to automatically assign an IP address to itself when there's no DHCP server available to perform that function.
  • autonomic computing - Autonomic computing is a self-managing computing model named after, and patterned on, the human body's autonomic nervous system.
  • bash (Bourne again shell) - Bash (Bourne Again Shell) is the free and enhanced 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).
  • binary - Binary describes a numbering scheme in which there are only two possible values for each digit -- 0 or 1 -- and is the basis for all binary code used in computing systems.
  • BIOS (basic input/output system) - BIOS (basic input/output system) is the program a computer's microprocessor uses to start the computer system after it is powered on.
  • 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 in 1979 at what at the time was Bell Labs.
  • 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.
  • 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 middleware that sits between the z/OS IBM mainframe operating system and business applications.
  • clean install - A clean install is a software installation in which any previous version is eradicated.
  • 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) - A cold backup, also called an offline backup, is a database backup during which the database is offline and not accessible to update.
  • 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 prompt - A command prompt is the input field in a text-based user interface screen for an operating system (OS) or program.
  • command-line interface (CLI) - A command-line interface (CLI) is a text-based user interface (UI) used to run programs, manage computer files and interact with the computer.
  • 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 disk operating system (DOS) commands that tell the operating system (OS) how the computer is initially set up.
  • contiguous - Contiguous describes two or more objects that are adjacent to each other.
  • 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, .
  • 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 - On a personal computer with the Microsoft Windows operating system, Control+Alt+Delete is the combination of the Ctrl key, the Alt key, and Del key that a user can press at the same time to terminate an application task or to reboot the operating system.
  • Cygwin - Cygwin is a collection of open source tools that allows Unix or Linux applications to be compiled and run on a Microsoft Windows operating system (OS) from within a Linux-like interface.
  • 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 (OS) that uses a Unix-like kernel -- typically Linux -- alongside other program components, many of which come from 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 special kind of software program that controls a specific hardware device attached to a computer.
  • disk image - A disk image is a copy of the entire contents of a storage device, such as a hard drive, DVD, or CD.
  • Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) - Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) is an extension to Component Object Model (COM) that enables software components to communicate with each other across different computers on a local area network (LAN), on a wide area network (WAN) or across the internet.
  • distribution - In marketing, distribution is the process of moving a product from its manufacturing source to its customers.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code)  - EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code ) (pronounced either "ehb-suh-dik" or "ehb-kuh-dik") is a binary code for alphabetic and numeric characters that IBM developed for its larger operating systems.
  • Eclipse (Eclipse Foundation) - Eclipse is a free, Java-based development platform known for its plugins 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 is a specialized operating system (OS) 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 designed for a specific function.
  • enhancement - In an information technology product, an enhancement is a noteworthy improvement to the product as part of a new version of it.
  • event log manager (ELM) - An event log manager (ELM) is an application that tracks changes in an organization's IT infrastructure.
  • executable - In computers, to execute a program is to run the program in the computer, and, by implication, to start it to run.
  • fault-tolerant - Fault-tolerant technology is a capability of a computer system, electronic system or network to deliver uninterrupted service, despite one or more of its components failing.
  • 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) - File Allocation Table (FAT) is a file system that Microsoft developed to support small disks and simple folder structures.
  • file extension (file format) - In a computer, a file extension 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 files or folders on a networked computer.
  • file shredder - A file shredder, also known as a virtual or digital shredder, is a program designed to render computer-based files unreadable, just as a conventional shredder makes physical documents unreadable.
  • 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 is a collection of data stored in a two-dimensional database in which similar yet discrete strings of information are stored as records in a table.
  • flat file system - A flat file system is a system of files in which every file in the system must have a different name.
  • font - The word 'font' refers to a set of printable or displayable typography or text characters in a specific style and size.
  • 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 general, a framework is a real or conceptual structure intended to serve as a support or guide for the building of something that expands the structure into something useful.
  • 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).
  • 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 - GNU/Linux is a Unix-like operating system made up of different OS components and services that create the Linux OS.
  • Google Android 4.4 KitKat - Android 4.4 KitKat is a version of Google's operating system (OS) for smartphones and tablets.
  • Google Chrome Enterprise - Google Chrome Enterprise is the business-focused solution for Chrome devices, Chrome browser and Chrome OS.
  • Google Chrome OS - Google Chrome OS is an open source lightweight operating system (OS).
  • grep - Grep, a UNIX command and also a utility available for Windows and other operating systems, is used to search one or more files for a given character string or pattern and, if desired, replace the character string with another one.
  • grok - To grok (pronounced GRAHK) something is to understand something so well that it is fully absorbed into oneself.
  • GWX (Get Windows 10) - GWX (get Windows 10) is a Windows upgrade app that was initially installed after Windows update KB3035583; the app has been the subject of consumer complaints for manipulative design.
  • hardware virtualization - Hardware virtualization, which is also known as server virtualization or simply virtualization, is the abstraction of computing resources from the software that uses those resources.
  • headless Android - Headless Android is a version of the Android operating system designed for embedded devices that lack user interfaces.
  • Host OS (host operating system) - A host OS is the software installed on a computer that interacts with the underlying hardware in a computer using virtualization technology.
  • hotfix - A hotfix is code (sometimes called a patch) that fixes a bug in a product.
  • hypervisor - A hypervisor is a function that abstracts -- isolates -- operating systems (OSes) and applications from the underlying computer hardware.
  • IBM Roadrunner - Roadrunner is the fastest supercomputer in the world, twice as fast as Blue Gene and six times as fast as any of the other current supercomputers.
  • icon - In today's age of technological advancement, most people recognize the word 'icon' as referring to a small selectable or nonselectable image representing or leading to something else in a computer's graphical user interface (GUI) or on the web.
  • initial program load (IPL) - IPL (initial program load) is a mainframe term for the loading of the operating system into the computer's main memory.
  • initialization - Initialization is the process of locating and using the defined values for variable data that is used by a computer program.
  • InstallAnywhere - InstallAnywhere is a program that can used by software developers to package a product written in Java so that it can be installed on any major operating system.
  • integer overflow - Integer overflow is the result of trying to place into computer memory an integer (whole number) that is too large for the integer data type in a given system.
  • interprocess communication (IPC) - Interprocess communication (IPC) is a set of programming interfaces that allow a programmer to coordinate activities among different program processes that can run concurrently in an operating system.
  • interrupt - An interrupt is a signal emitted by a device attached to a computer or from a program within the computer.
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