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Demystifying Operating System for Backend Engineers

I covered the most important concepts to learn in operating systems as a backend engineer

Hello “👋”

Welcome to another week, another opportunity to become a Great Backend Engineer.

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I know today is not Saturday, and I’m sending a newsletter issue. Sorry for flooding your mailbox.

I wanted to complete my monthly streak of sending four free newsletter issues demystifying backend engineering concepts.

This is supposed to go out to premium subscribers, but here we are.

Before we get down to the business of today. Exploring Operating Systems for Backend Engineers.

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Now, back to the business of today.

The operating system is a broad topic; we can not finish it in just one newsletter issue, no matter how hard we try.

However, the plan here is not to turn you into an Operating System expert but to give you direction into what to learn in Operating Systems that will be useful in your career as a Great Backend Engineer.

Are you ready?

An operating system is the most important software in a computer. It is system software that manages the resources of a computer. It manages the memories, processes, and other software.

These resources include but are not limited to the central processing unit(CPU), computer memory, file storage, input/output (I/O) devices, and network connections.

Types of operating systems

If you’re starting, you’ll probably start using the operating system that comes pre-loaded with the system. However, updating, removing, and installing a new operating system on your machine is possible. For instance, you can remove the Windows operating system and install the Linux one.

Below are the three main types of operating systems:

  • Windows

  • Mac

  • Linux

Next, explore important concepts to learn as a backend engineer in operating systems.

The 10 Operating System Concepts for Backend Engineers

POSIX Basics

POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface) is a set of standards that define a common interface for compatibility between operating systems. It was developed to promote software portability and interoperability across UNIX-like operating systems.

Processes and Process Management

A process is a running program in an operating system, and these running programs are executed sequentially. For instance, when you write and execute a program, it becomes a process that executes all the instructions you specified in the program accordingly.

Threads and Concurrency

Threads A thread is the smallest unit of execution within a process. A process is an independent program with its own memory space, while threads within a process share the same memory space. Threads allow multiple tasks to be executed concurrently within a single process, enabling better resource utilization and responsiveness.

Concurrency refers to the ability of an operating system to manage multiple tasks and execute them seemingly simultaneously. In a concurrent system, multiple tasks progress independently, and the operating system switches between tasks to give the illusion of simultaneous execution. This allows efficient utilization of CPU time, especially when some tasks are waiting for input/output or other resources.


Scheduling in operating systems refers to determining which processes or threads should be allocated CPU time and in what order. The scheduler is a critical component of an operating system that manages the execution of processes or threads to achieve efficient and fair utilization of system resources.

Memory Management

Memory management in operating systems efficiently manages the computer's primary memory (RAM) to enable the execution of multiple processes or programs simultaneously. The main goals of memory management are to ensure that processes can coexist peacefully in memory, prevent conflicts, and optimize memory utilization.

Inter-Process Communication

Inter-process communication (IPC) in operating systems refers to the mechanisms and techniques that allow different processes to exchange data, share resources, and communicate. IPC is essential for coordinating activities, enabling cooperation between processes, and facilitating parallel execution of tasks.

I/O Management

I/O (Input/Output) Management in operating systems manages the communication and interaction between the computer's hardware devices and software processes.


Virtualization in operating systems refers to creating virtual resources or environments that abstract and mimic physical hardware or software components. It allows multiple virtual instances (e.g., virtual machines, virtual storage, virtual networks) to coexist on a single physical machine, providing isolation, flexibility, and resource optimization.

Distributed File Systems

A Distributed File System (DFS) in operating systems is a network-based file system that allows multiple computers or nodes in a distributed computing environment to access and share files and data stored on remote storage devices.

Distributed Shared Memory

Distributed Shared Memory (DSM) in operating systems is a concept that allows multiple processes running on different nodes in a distributed computing environment to share a common memory space.

I have already created an article that explores the 10 concepts of operating system backend engineers should know. Click here to read more details about each of the concepts.

That will be all for this one. See you on Saturday.

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