The Network Operating System

Now that you have looked at the typical hardware components of a LAN, let us look at another very essential element of the LAN, namely its operating system (OS). The operating system in a computer, as you know, performs the task of storage management of data and programs and the functions of input-output device management.

A LAN or any other type of network also needs an operating system. There is one vital difference between a network operating system and a single-user operating system like DOS. DOS concerns itself with the operations of a single PC. A network operating system has to concern itself with the management of the network as a whole. It has to ensure that the network of computers operates smoothly.

Some of the tasks that a network operating system performs are listed hereunder:

  • The network OS provides network services to users. The network services are:
    • Access to disk storage space: Network users can save files in a common location, i.e. the server hard disk. It is necessary to ensure that every user gets a share of disk space on the server disk.
    • Access to shared files: In a network, certain files on the server can be accessed by several workstations at the same time. The network operating system ensures that this takes place smoothly.
  • The network OS takes care of security, ensuring that files of one user are not accessed by other users.
  • It manages the sharing of peripherals like printers among workstations.

Some of the most popular network operating systems in use are -Novell NetWare from Novell Inc., Windows NT Server from Microsoft.