Distributed Operating System

Can someone explain to me what a Distributed Operating System is?  I have read a wikipedia definition, but I still could not tell the difference between a network operating system and a distributed OS.
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pjedmondConnect With a Mentor Commented:
A reasonable area to look is anything that mentions clustering. Beowulf clusters are not really quite distributed OSes, because each system is a complete OS in itself. The channel bonding and shared memory is more to enable multiple PCs to break a problem down into independent bite sized bits which can all operate on different little bits of the same problem. The operating system isn't really distributed over numberous machines, although some of the data space is. RedHat has produced a very interesting distributed fileserver setup, with each PC handling different parts of it. Java has the ability to run remote modules on other PCs (look up RMI), the .NET architecture from Microsoft also provides a similar capability to take parts of the OS and put them on a different computer, and the OS can still run.

Many of the applications such as:

http://folding.stanford.edu/    (folding at home)
http://www.mersenne.org/    (Search for Mersenne Primes)
http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/     (SETI)

are often considered to be distributed OS, but they are not. They are really massive glorified client server setups (or plausibly you could call it a cluster), as a task is given out to a remote client, which returns an answer.

Distributed, implies that parts of the OS itself can be moved to different systems as requierd in a more dynamic fashion.


Hi Higante,

a network operating system is exactly that    take windows 2000 or windows 2003 server, it is purely and simply a networking OS which provides a stack of Server operation roles that a normal or "distributed" OS doesnt

a Distributed OS is also known as a client OS ie, windows XP or 2000pro - they are designed to tie in with the Network OS as a client

Its al part of the Server Client Relo
holy damn

i jsut read the wikipedia entry on it and its nothing like what i always thought it was .........
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My apologies, i have my deffinitions wrong and they dont match what i always beleived they were supposed to
HiganteAuthor Commented:
I was trying to understand what you said, but I think I get your point.
wgenglanConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Jay Jay70, you got it right,

but to generalize it a little, a networked operating system still has each machine
as a separate stand-alone pc, just sharing information.

A distributed operating system spreads the operating system functions around to the different machines,
making them all act like one big pc.  No real power on one unit, but lots of power from all of them working
together, or at least that is the idea anyway...
CGretskiConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I think beowulf clusters would count as a distributed OS, as with the patches to the standard linux kernel they share memory & pipes between machines.

wgenglanConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Right, CGretski, that is distributed OS, shared memory & pipes, the OS is spreading work around between machines...

Linux as a rule is only a networked OS, but the patches change the standard linux kernel to one that treats resources on
different machines as one larger resource, effectively making them all one bigger machine...

In a networked OS, there is really only sharing resources on a per-use or demand basis, and data is only transferred if a buffer
is filled or flushed during an edit or update.  But, the OS of each machine is stand-alone, boots on each machine, not distributed...

Java and XML working in an internet environment come close to a distributed OS, but since there is a base OS on each machine, this
is more of an abstract model than a true distributed OS...
The http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_operating_system entry is really referring to parallel computing, although it appears to give some good links to a true distributed operating system.

the technologies such as CORBA, Remote Procedure Calls, Distributed Objects etc are the hallmarks of a distributed application or operating system......We can then start trying to decide where the border-line between the OS and the applications is. Enough money was spent getting greater minds than ours to decide this in the case of Internet Explorer tied into the windows operating system. Deciding at what point a client/server setup becomes truely distributed...must there be 2 elements that can be seperated, 3, 4, 200? Many application servers are 2 or 3 tier (webserver/logic/database). These 'bits' can be put on different computers. If you made the applicaiton 4 tier is it then distributed?

Everyone will have their own ideas as to where the boundaries are between these different types of computing. The bottom line is that the concept of a distributed operating system, is just that....a concept, as many modern operating systems have the capability to distribute some elements of the operating system, although in practice, in most cases, all elements are run on the same system, if only for the obvious reason that it is easier to manage!

**Excellent** link sunilcomputer....The best description I've ever seen of this! The only major thing to be aware of is that in the real world, setups never fall perfectly into any one of the categories, they tend to exhibit characterists of different architectures discussed.
That was a suprise! ...I personally though sunilcomputer provided the best description for this (even though it was in a link)...Oh well...what do I know?
pjedmond, I feel you sealed the deal with your answer, so you should just accept the credit where due.  After all, the
final word on concepts is often yet to be said.  The degree to which you clarified the matter is fairly obvious.  To quote,

"Distributed, implies that parts of the OS itself can be moved to different systems as required in a more dynamic fashion."

I was surprised to be included, though grateful, especially with such strong companions in the discussion.

CGretski pointed out clustering, which is much closer in the computing world to distributed computing in the case of non-parallel architectures.

Thank you all, and especially to you, Higante for a question leading to a refreshing discussion!

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