Network Operating System

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What Does Network Operating System Mean?

A network operating system is an operating system designed for the sole purpose of supporting workstations, database sharing, application sharing and file and printer access sharing among multiple computers in a network. Certain standalone operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows NT and Digital’s OpenVMS, come with multipurpose capabilities and can also act as network operating systems. Some of the most well-known network operating systems include Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Linux and Mac OS X.

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Techopedia Explains Network Operating System

The salient features of network operating systems are:

  • Basic operating system features support like protocol support, processor support, hardware detection and multiprocessing support for applications
  • Security features like authentication, restrictions, authorizations and access control
  • Features for file, Web service, printing and replication
  • Directory and name services management
  • User management features along with provisions for remote access and system management
  • Internetworking features like routing and WAN ports
  • Clustering capabilities

Common tasks associated with network operating systems include:

  • User administration
  • System maintenance activities like backup
  • Tasks associated with file management
  • Security monitoring on all resources in the network
  • Setting priority to print jobs in the network
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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.