An operating system (also known as an “OS”) is the main software or set of programs in a computer system that manages hardware resources and provides services to application software programs; the OS is initially loaded into any computer-like device by a boot program. The operating system controls almost all of the computer’s resources, including the network, storage, database, users, peripheral devices, etc.
Operating systems are created by thousands of engineers over the years and can be private like Windows or free supported by global voluntary communities, as is the case of GNU/Linux, BSD Unix).
Without going into too much detail, we will only differentiate a Client Operating System from a Server Operating System. You need to understand the technical terms “Client” and “Server” to do this.
What is a client PC? A client is a computer on the network that makes requests to another program to carry out a common purpose, for example, it is a PC where a user can download a file, browse the Internet, etc. It is usually the computer used by a computer user to carry out his work and daily activities.
What is a server? It is a computer that is at the “service” of other devices called clients, with which it makes a connection to access the services installed on the server. A server is not intended for an ordinary user to access the Internet or perform office activities. Instead, the server works with specialized software to meet customer requests, providing one or more services continuously and without interruption.
Having explained the above terms, we can define that Client Operating Systems are designed for a standalone machine used by a single user, mainly oriented to service consumers. Generally, a client OS is used in a user’s work environment using email clients to access mail servers, web browsers to access web page servers. However, a client OS can function as a server operating system with limitations.
While a network OS provides services to client network devices, its design and architecture are intended to support multiple concurrent demands for access to different services. A Network Operating System on a typical server platform is a computer that stays on 24 hours a day for 365 days a year, the server OS includes many more capabilities than a normal client (or desktop) operating system. A server on this platform can provide database services, web pages, DHCP, DNS, etc.
Examples of Client Operating Systems:
- Microsoft Windows XP or earlier, Windows 8/8.1, Windows 10.
- GNU/Linux desktop versions: Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, SuSe, LinuxMint, etc.
Examples of Server Operating Systems:
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008/2008 R2, Windows Server 2012/2012 R2.
- Unix-based systems (Oracle Solaris, IBM AIX, HP UX, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, etc.)
- GNU/Linux (RedHat Enterprise Linux, Debian Linux, SUSE Enterprise, Ubuntu Server, CentOS Server, etc.)