Layered Operating System: Architecture, Approach & Structure

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  • 0:04 Managing Complexity
  • 0:44 What Is an Operating System?
  • 1:22 Layered Operating System
  • 1:52 Architecture
  • 2:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

In a world where devices are getting smaller and smarter, it makes sense that we should have something to control them. In this lesson, we'll take a look at one possibility, layered operating systems.

Managing Complexity

Gizmos and gadgets are a big part of our world. With each use, we want them smaller, and we want them to do more. Just think of cell phones. When they first came out, they weighed 15 pounds (6.8 kg), were the size of a briefcase, and all they could do is place or receive a call. Today, they are smaller than your wallet, and can perform the tasks of a personal assistant or computer.

Cameras are another example. They have more in common with a laptop, than the cameras your parents, or grandparents, used. With the added complexity, it makes sense to have some method for controlling the various aspects of the device. One way to do that is to use an operating system.

What Is an Operating System?

An operating system is the brains of a computer. It performs the underlying functions that the computer can provide. This includes controlling access to devices such as memory, hard disk drives, and keyboards, as well as providing a framework for software applications to execute in. Each computer has one, although they can differ significantly in the capabilities they provide.

For example, the operating system in your desktop or laptop computer provides a different set of capabilities than the one in an embedded device like a coffee maker or toaster. Regardless, the capabilities they provide are vital to the operation of the device.

Layered Operating System

The layered operating system is an operating system that groups related functionality together, and separates it from the unrelated. It was developed in the early 1960s and was expected to lead to a cleaner design and more clearly defined interaction between the layers.

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