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About this article: Multi-User Operating Systems and The Need to Know

Multi-user operating systems allow multiple sytems to function on a single machine. Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of this.

Multi-user operating systems and the need to know.

We all now know that Operating Systems are the back bones of computers. Multi-user operating systems allow multiple users to use the resources on a single computer simultaneously or at different times. Linux, UNIX and Windows 2000 are few examples of multi user operating systems.

When using a multi user operating system, there are a few things you may need to know to make maximum use of its features even without the help of a technical assistant at home or office.

Let's take for an example a user of a UNIX multi user operating system. As intended, many users will all be sharing the same resources in a machine. Occasionally you may need to find out some very basic information like, whether the co-worker is logged on? Has a co-worker read the email you sent? How to find out if the co-worker has come to work if he never logs out? You can find out lots of basic data like the above and more about users and the system easily and without any special permission.

When you need to find out whether someone is at office or at a meeting or on leave what do you do? Some co-workers make it easy by setting their email and voice mail so anyone who tries to contact them will be sent the information automatically. But some leave you guessing more often than not. In UNIX there are many commands to assist you. For example, if you want to find out who is currently logged in to the system and even the time they had logged in you can use the 'who' command. On systems with many users, the 'who' command will output more data than can be processed. In these cases, the 'who' command can be used with the 'more' or 'grep' command to output specific information.

To find out what the other users are working on in their personal computers (PCs), you can use the 'ps' command. This will show you all the processes running on the system and will help you find out who is doing what. There is also a command called the 'finger command'. This is useful to find out who is logged in and how long a co-worker is idle. It can also show you when the other person last read his/her email. It will also show you what the other person is working on at that moment and the login name of the other person.

These are some basic things a user working on a multi user operating system needs to be aware of, as one cannot depend on a technical person always to be on hand when you may require important information urgently. In fact multi user operating systems are especially user friendly as there is no other system that would involve many users at the same time.
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