by Dinesh Thakur

Network Operating System is an operating system that includes special functions for connecting computers and devices into a local-area network (LAN) or Inter-network. Some popular network operating systems are Novell Netware, Windows NT/2000, Linux, Sun Solaris, UNIX, and IBM OS/2.

An operating system that provides the connectivity among a number of autonomous computers is called a network operating system. A typical configuration for a network operating system is a collection of personal computers along with a common printer, server and file server for archival storage, all tied together by a local network. Some of the features of Network Operating System are to:  

1. Provide basic operating system features such as support for processors, protocols, automatic hardware detection and support multi-processing of applications.

2.   Provide security features such as authentication, logon restrictions and access control.

3.   Provide name and directory services.

4.   Provide file, print, web services and back-up services.

5.   Support Internetworking such as routing and WAN ports.

6. User management and support for logon and logoff, remote access; system management, administration and auditing tools with graphical interfaces.  

Mainly there are two types of network operating systems named as peer-to-peer and client / server.

Peer-to-peer network operating systems allow users to share resources and files located on their computers and to access shared resources found on other computers. In a peer-to-peer network, all computers are considered equal; they all have the same privileges to use the resources available on the network. Peer-to-peer networks are designed primarily for small to medium local area networks. Windows for Workgroups is an example of the program that can function as peer-to-peer network operating systems.  

Client/server network operating systems allow the network to centralize functions and applications in one or more dedicated file servers. The file servers become the heart of the system, providing access to resources and providing security. The workstations (clients) have access to the resources available on the file servers. The network operating system allows multiple users to simultaneously share the same resources irrespective of physical location. Novell Netware and Windows 2000Server are examples of client/ server network operating systems.

Each computer in the workgroup run an autonomous operating system; yet cooperate with each other to allow a variety of facilities including sharing of files, sharing of hardware resources and execution of remote machines etc.

Network operating systems are implementations of loosely coupled operating systems on top of loosely coupled hardware. Network operating\systems are the software that supports the use of a network of machines and provide users that are aware of using a set of computers, with facilities designed to ease the use of remote resources located over the network. These resources are made available as services and might be printers, processors, file systems or other devices. Some resources, of which dedicated hardware devices such as printers, tape drives are connected to and managed by a particular machine and are made available to other machines in the network via a service. A typical example of such a system is a set of workstations connected together through a local area network (LAN). Every workstation has its own operating system every user has its own workstation in exclusive use and cooperates with each other to allow a variety of facilities including sharing of files, sharing of hardware resources and execution of remote machines etc. A user can execute a login command in order to connect to another station and also can access a set of shared files maintained by a workstation named/file server.