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System Software

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System software refers to the low-level software that manages and controls a computer’s hardware and provides basic services to higher-level software. Examples of system software include:

  • Operating systems (OS): Windows, Linux, macOS, etc.
  • Device drivers: software that enables the communication between hardware and OS.
  • Firmware: pre-installed low-level software that controls a device’s basic functions.
  • Utility software: tools for system maintenance and optimization.
  • Boot loaders: software that initializes the OS during startup.

There are two main types of software: systems software and application software. Systems software includes the programs that are dedicated to managing the computer itself, such as the operating system, file management utilities, and disk operating system (or DOS). 

System software is software that provides a platform for other software. Some examples can be operating systems, antivirus software, disk formatting software, Computer language translators, etc. These are commonly prepared by computer manufacturers. This software consists of programs written in low-level languages, used to interact with the hardware at a very basic level. System software serves as the interface between the hardware and the end users. 

what is System Software ?

System software refers to the collection of programs and software components that enable a computer or computing device to function properly. It acts as an intermediary between the user and the computer hardware, allowing the user to interact with the hardware and use various applications and programs.

Some common types of system software include operating systems (such as Windows, macOS, or Linux), device drivers, utility programs, programming languages, and system libraries.

Operating systems are the most important type of system software, as they provide the foundational framework for all other software and applications to run on the computer. They manage computer resources, such as memory and processing power, and provide a user interface for users to interact with the system.

Device drivers are another important type of system software, as they allow the operating system to communicate with hardware devices such as printers, scanners, and graphics cards.

Utility programs provide additional functionality to the operating system, such as disk defragmentation, virus scanning, and file compression.

Why use  System Software ?
 Here are some reasons why system software is necessary:

  1. Hardware Communication: System software serves as an interface between the hardware and software components of a computer, enabling them to communicate and work together.
  2. Resource Management: System software manages computer resources such as memory, CPU usage, and storage, optimizing their utilization and ensuring that the system operates efficiently.
  3. Security: System software provides security measures such as firewalls, antivirus software, and encryption, protecting the system and its data from malware, viruses, and other security threats.
  4. User Interface: System software provides a user interface that allows users to interact with the computer or computing device and perform various tasks.
  5. Application Support: System software supports the installation and running of applications and software on the system.
  6. Customization: System software allows for customization of the system settings and configuration, giving users greater control over their computing environment.

The most important features of system software include : 
1. Closeness to the system 
2. Fast speed 
3. Difficult to manipulate 
4. Written in a low-level language 
5. Difficult to design 

Operating System

An operating system (OS) is a type of system software that manages a computer’s hardware and software resources. It provides common services for computer programs. An OS acts as a link between the software and the hardware. It controls and keeps a record of the execution of all other programs that are present in the computer, including application programs and other system software. 

The most important tasks performed by the operating system are 

1. Memory Management: The OS keeps track of the primary memory and allocates the memory when a process requests it. 
2. Processor Management: Allocates the main memory (RAM) to a process and de-allocates it when it is no longer required. 
3. File Management: Allocates and de-allocates the resources and decides who gets the resources. 
4. Security: Prevents unauthorized access to programs and data using passwords. 
5. Error-detecting Aids: Production of dumps, traces, error messages, and other debugging and error-detecting methods. 
6. Scheduling: The OS schedules the process through its scheduling algorithms. 

Compiler: A compiler is a software that translates the code written in one language to some other language without changing the meaning of the program. The compiler is also said to make the target code efficient and optimized in terms of time and space. 

A compiler performs almost all of the following operations during compilation: preprocessing, lexical analysis, parsing, semantic analysis (syntax-directed translation), conversion of input programs to an intermediate representation, code optimization, and code generation. Examples of compilers may include gcc(C compiler), g++ (C++ Compiler ), javac (Java Compiler), etc. 

Interpreter: An interpreter is a computer program that directly executes, i.e. it performs instructions written in a programming or scripting language. Interpreters do not require the program to be previously compiled into a machine language program. An interpreter translates high-level instructions into an intermediate form, which is then executed. 

Interpreters are fast as it does not need to go through the compilation stage during which machine instructions are generated. The interpreter continuously translates the program until the first error is met. If an error comes it stops executing. Hence debugging is easy. Examples may include Ruby, Python, PHP, etc. 

Assembler: An assembler is a program that converts the assembly language into machine code. It takes the basic commands and operations and converts them into binary code specific to a type of processor. 

Assemblers produce executable code that is similar to compilers. However, assemblers are more simplistic since they only convert low-level code (assembly language) to machine code. Since each assembly language is designed for a specific processor, assembling a program is performed using a simple one-to-one mapping from assembly code to machine code. On the other hand, compilers must convert generic high-level source code into machine code for a specific processor. 

Uses of sysetem software :

Here are some common uses of system software:

  1. Operating systems: An operating system is a type of system software that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer programs. Operating systems are used in a wide variety of applications, from personal computers to servers, supercomputers, and embedded systems.
  2. Device drivers: Device drivers are a type of system software that allow operating systems to communicate with hardware devices such as printers, scanners, and graphics cards. Without device drivers, operating systems would not be able to interact with hardware devices, making them useless.
  3. Firmware: Firmware is a type of system software that provides low-level control over hardware devices such as BIOS firmware, firmware for embedded systems, and firmware for network devices such as routers and switches.
  4. System utilities: System utilities are a type of system software that performs routine maintenance tasks such as disk cleanup, defragmentation, antivirus scanning, and system backups. These utilities help ensure that the computer system is running efficiently and securely.
  5. Programming tools: Programming tools are a type of system software that is used by developers to create, debug, and optimize software applications. These tools include compilers, debuggers, integrated development environments (IDEs), and performance analysis tools.

Issues in System Software :

  1. Compatibility Issues: System software may not be compatible with certain hardware components, which can cause errors or crashes.
  2. Security Issues: System software may contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers or malware to gain unauthorized access to the system or steal sensitive data.
  3. Performance Issues: System software may not be optimized for the hardware or may be resource-intensive, which can cause the system to slow down or freeze.
  4. Update Issues: System software updates may contain bugs or compatibility issues that can cause problems with the system or other software components.
  5. Licensing Issues: Some system software may require licensing or activation, which can cause problems if the license expires or if there are licensing errors.
  6. User Interface Issues: The user interface of system software may not be intuitive or may be difficult to use, which can affect the user experience.


  1. Resource management: System software manages and allocates resources such as memory, CPU, and input/output devices to different programs.
  2. Improved performance: System software optimizes the performance of the computer and reduces the workload on the user.
  3. Security: System software provides security features such as firewalls, anti-virus protection, and access controls to protect the computer from malicious attacks.
  4. Compatibility: System software ensures compatibility between different hardware and software components, making it easier for users to work with a wide range of devices and software.
  5. Ease of use: System software provides a user-friendly interface and graphical environment, making it easier for users to interact with and control the computer.
  6. Reliability: System software helps ensure the stability and reliability of the computer, reducing the risk of crashes and malfunctions.
  7. Increased functionality: System software provides a range of tools and utilities for performing various tasks, increasing the functionality and versatility of the computer.


  1. Complexity: System software can be complex and difficult to understand, especially for non-technical users.
  2. Cost: Some system software, such as operating systems and security software, can be expensive.
  3. System Overhead: The use of system software can result in increased system overhead, which can slow down the performance of the computer and reduce its efficiency.
  4. Vulnerability: System software, especially the operating system, can be vulnerable to security threats and viruses, which can compromise the security and stability of the computer.
  5. Upgrades: Upgrading to a newer version of system software can be time-consuming and may cause compatibility issues with existing software and hardware.
  6. Limited Customizability: Some system software may have limited options for customization, making it difficult for users to personalize their computing experience.
  7. Dependency: Other software programs and devices may depend on the system software, making it difficult to replace or upgrade without disrupting other systems.

    Related Article: Compiler vs Interpreter

References :

Here are some references for further reading on system software:

  1. “Operating System Concepts” by Abraham Silberschatz, Peter B. Galvin, and Greg Gagne – This is a widely-used textbook on operating systems that provides a comprehensive introduction to the design and implementation of modern operating systems.
  2. “Windows Internals” by Mark Russinovich and David A. Solomon – This book provides an in-depth look at the internals of the Windows operating system, including its architecture, system components, and management tools.
  3. “Linux Kernel Development” by Robert Love – This book provides an introduction to the Linux kernel and the process of kernel development, covering topics such as process management, memory management, and device drivers.
  4. “Computer Organization and Design” by David A. Patterson and John L. Hennessy – This book provides an introduction to computer architecture and organization, including topics such as instruction set design, memory hierarchy, and input/output systems.
  5. “Embedded Systems: Introduction to Arm Cortex-M Microcontrollers” by Jonathan Valvano – This book provides an introduction to embedded systems programming using the Arm Cortex-M architecture, covering topics such as memory management, interrupts, and real-time operating systems.

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Last Updated : 02 May, 2023
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