3. Multi-user operating system
A multi-user operating system allows multiple users, on different workstations, to access a single, powerful computer via a network. This central computer, often a mainframe or super-computer, contains the operating system which is used on all connected terminals.
The diagram below shows a typical multi-user system that includes a mainframe computer. Note that there is a single computer (the mainframe) with multiple terminals/workstations. The workstations are not running their own operating systems, but are controlled by a single larger one on the mainframe.
As you can see in the above diagram, a multi-user operating system handles the needs of different users by dividing up CPU time and assigning blocks to each user in turn. Since a computer works so quickly, these blocks are shorter than a human would notice (about a hundredth of a second).
A multi-user operating system carries out the following tasks
- Each user logs on to the system and is presented with their workspace
- Allocates resources for the jobs they want to run
- Keeps logs of how much processing time and resources they use
- Works out the most efficient use of computer processing cycles
- Maintains security and privacy between the different users
Examples of multiuser operating systems include automated checkouts at a supermarket, a mainframe in an office, etc.
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