Bios & operating system


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I belong to the generation that initially stored computer software and data on standard music cassettes and typed new software line by line.

At least for me it was an experience when you could load your new operating system onto the computer with a few 3,5 inch floppy disks and the old floppy disks were only used for storage. Once you had installed your operating system, the diskettes with the different drivers came along, and with a lot of luck and a number of attempts, you then also had your peripherals and, among other things, the new graphics or sound cards married to the operating system. But then at the latest it was time to install a new bios - and I was pretty sure that I could start from scratch afterwards.

We had fun setting up a Bios password on strangers' computers and quickly forgetting it again, or trying out master passwords from the individual companies on a wide variety of computers; The advantage of the whole thing was that you didn't need expensive computer games to pass the time with computers.

Nowadays, when you count the milliseconds until your favorite application runs after opening the computer screen or switching on the computer, or until the usual applications can already be used across systems on the most commonly used operating systems, it might be a good idea to use the usual computer or smartphone Remind users what a bios or an operating system actually is — I firmly believe that at least it doesn't harm anyone.

Let's start with the Bios, which was originally introduced on IBM and the IBM compatible computers. The bios is the computer's firmware and ensures that an operating system can communicate with the computer's hardware. Successors to the Bios were the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) and later, around 2006, the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI); both were backward compatible with the bios until 2020.

Of course, there were also alternatives to the bios from the start, but they all had the same task and still do today. The advantage of the bios is that it enables the operating systems to function on a wide variety of computers and their diverse configurations.

The fact that the “bios” still exists today is clearly shown by computers that run with Windows and all of which also have their own firmware or software from the hardware manufacturer on board. This is less noticeable with Apple, since the operating system and hardware come from the same company.

The most well-known operating systems today are probably macOC, iOS and iPadOS from Apple, Windows from Microsoft, and UNIX and its other derivatives; Linux has not only established itself on servers, but can also be found (via Android) in car radios. What they all have in common is that they are the interface between the hardware of the computer or telephone and the application programs on the computer or the smartphone apps.

The operating system is an independent collection of computer programs that manages the system resources of a computer, such as main memory, hard drives or flash memory, input and output devices, and makes them available to a wide variety of application programs and apps. The operating systems consist of their own — well protected — kernel that controls the hardware and other programs that manage the drivers, among other things. In addition, the operating system monitors and protects the computer and its applications from unauthorized access and malfunctions.

My conclusion is that you shouldn't underestimate the bios and operating system, especially not when it comes to systems that do their job almost unnoticed, very stable and tirelessly and provide the computer user with a wide variety of applications, which then completely forget the necessary computer.

If, after reading this, one or the other reader now more willingly and more regularly ensures the necessary updates of his computer, we are all helped - and I may soon even get around to rushing to help friends and acquaintances to learn how Windows works again 8 or even Windows 7.

"But as we all know, Linux is only free if your time has no value, and I find that my time is better spent doing things other than the endless moving-target-upgrade dance."

Jamie Zawinski, mouthing off about linux (June 1998)

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