What is system software?

System software is a computer program that provides an interface between the application software and the computer hardware. This software is designed to control the computer itself and is built by computer manufacturers. It controls the application software, file processing, disc operations, and many others. It is written in a low-level language and runs in the background. It allows users to run application software on the top to perform some tasks. The system software will control all the activities, and it does not allow such activities that can damage the system means it also perform the duty of error detection. Examples of system software are an Operating system, an antivirus system, a disc operating system, etc.

Functions and Features of System Software

Below are some important functions and features of system software.

  • High speed: System software should be very fast to provide a real-time experience to a user. It must respond fast for every running application on the computer.
  • Hard Manipulation: It is very difficult to develop a system software because it requires deep computer knowledge.
  • Written in Low-Level language: A system software must be written in low-level or computer language. The Central processing unit (CPU) and the hard can understand and react to the instructions commanded by the user or the machine itself.
  • Direct connection with hardware: System software is directly connected to the computer’s hardware, and because of this, they can command the hardware to perform the task.
  • Versatile: The versatility feature of system software allows it to run a large variety of application software. It can adapt many features and functions and is suitable for many applications.
  • Hard Designing: Designing a system software is very hard as it needs to be computer-friendly and application friendly. It plays the crucial role of the interface between the end-user and hardware, making the designing process more difficult.

Types of System Software

Just like application software, there are different types of system software. They are categorized into different categories depending on their role in work. Let us have a look at different types of system software.

1. Operating System

An operating system is a computer program or a system software designed to control and manage the computer hardware. A user can interact with an operating system through its Graphical User Interface (GUI) or the Command-Line Interface (CLI). As users, we regularly interact with the operating system present in our computer through its GUI or less complex CLI. The operating system keeps all the software records and manages and controls them. It is written to control the program running and using the resources present in the computer. Some of the most famous examples of an operating system are Windows Operating System, macOS, Linux, Unix, IOS, etc.

Features and roles of an operating system

  • Scheduling or Process Management: We run multi programs on our computer simultaneously. Each program requires the main memory and different resources. To achieve multi-tasking, we need our OS to fulfill the requirements. We make the operating system play the role of a schedular. To reload and remove different programs in the and from the main memory respectively, there are some scheduling algorithms written like First In First Out (FIFO), Last In First Out (LIFO), Shortest Job First (SJF), and others, which helps the CPU to decide which program needs to be run. Some of the above algorithms are only theoretical, and some are implementable. The best scheduling algorithms are used to save time and make the computer fast.
  • Memory Management: Our computer has a fixed main and secondary memory size. To use the memory efficiently (to prevent internal and external fragmentation or memory losses), the operating system is designed to control and use the memory efficiently. The operating system decides which part of the memory will be allocated to a program to achieve the best possible use of available memory. Memory allocation also depends on the contiguous and non-contiguous memory allocation system.
  • File management: The operating system also controls allocating resources (Files and data) to a program. Based on some allocation and deallocation algorithms, the operating system plays the role of file manager. The allocation and deallocation of files or resources to a program is known as file management.
  • Security: It provides an authentication system that prevents unauthorized access to system data and programs.
  • Error Detection: It detects all the errors related to any process, program, or application by some debugging or error-detection algorithms.

2. Language Processor

These types of system software are used to translate high-level languages into low-level languages. A language processor's input or source code is written in high-level and translated into object code in a low-level or binary language. The computer understands only the low-level language.

Different types of language processors:

  • Compiler: Compiler means a translator is a system software used to translate the code written in one language into another without changing the actual meaning and work of the code. It converts the whole code simultaneously from one language into another and gives the optimized and efficient target code in terms of space and memory. The translation of code’s language goes through certain steps, including preprocessing, lexical analysis, syntax analysis, semantic analysis, code optimization, and code generation.
  • Interpreter: An interpreter also converts the code written in one language into another without changing the actual meaning of the code. But the way of translating the language of the code is different form the way of translation of the compiler. The interpreter translates the source code line by line and executes it simultaneously instead of translating the whole code. It does not give any target code as it executes the code while translating it.
  • Assembler: An assembler converts the code written in assembly language into machine code and gives an executable code written in binary language. The work of an assembler is easier than the work of the compiler as it only converts the code from assembly language to machine language.

Difference between System Software and Application Software

Here are the following difference between System Software and Application Software

  1. System software is an interface between application and computer hardware, whereas application software provides a user interface to use the computer resources.
  2. System software is always written in a low-level language, whereas application software is written in a high-level language.
  3. System software controls the computer hardware and resources, whereas application software is built for a specific task.
  4. To use the computer hardware, it is necessary to have system software, whereas, without application, we can do all the work using the command-line interface.
  5. The development of system software is more difficult than the development of application software because system software programming is more complex than application software programming. It requires deep knowledge of the computer, and any errors in system software could lead to a dead system.