An operating system is a computer program that controls basic functions and application programs. In terms of basic tasks, the operating system controls the organization of files, receives input, and activates the printer and other peripheral devices. Software programs, called applications, can be run and supported by the operating system. The type of computer you have and the operating system you install on it determines what software applications you're able to run. Linux, Mac OS, DOS and Windows are some different main types of operating systems. Lastly, the operating system that you choose usually has specific commands used to activate programs. For instance, the Mac OS, used on Apple and Macintosh computers, and Windows, for IBM - compatible computers, usually have graphical user interfaces that contain icons and paths embedded underneath these icons that lead to the desired programs, while DOS uses a text command. Previously, Linux also had used a complicated text-based command system, though now there are graphical user interfaces that can simplify the command operation. Operating systems are categorized according to their capabilities, such as real time, meaning it reacts to input immediately; multiuser, which allows more than one user to use it concurrently; multitasking, which allows programs to run simultaneously; multiprocessing; and multithreading, which allows multiple parts of a single program to run simultaneously.
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