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Operating system software

Decisions about what operating system software to use are usually based on the type of hardware purchased, as the OS often comes preloaded on the computer. Both Apple’s and Microsoft’s basic operating systems come with the ability to enable computers to be linked together to form small networks. For these client computers, the most important thing to remember is that it is easier to maintain and use the computers when they are all running the same OS (i.e. all use Windows or all use Mac, but not some Windows and some Mac mixed together).

However, decisions about what software should be used to operate more complex networks are not as predetermined or clear cut as they are with client system software. Larger and more robust networks will require special network operating system software which includes links to printers and other peripherals, e-mail, file sharing, security functions, and communication among linked computers.

There are different options for network operating system software:

Apple computer systems:

• Apple’s own network operating system 
• Linux

PC systems:

• Microsoft NT
• Novel Netware
• Linux

Several important questions must be addressed before deciding on a network operating system:

  • Is technical support available? If it is, what does it cost for the different options?
  • What types of network operating system software are most common in schools, businesses, and government agencies in your country or locality?
  • What types of network operating system software are already in use?
  • How much money is available in project and school budgets to cover the costs of installing, maintaining, and upgrading network operating system software?
  • Are there local user communities (face-to-face or Web-based) that can be used to access local technical support for different network operating system software systems?
  • Is the network operating system software available in a version to match languages commonly spoken by both technicians and users?