Network Operating System


A Network Operating System (NOS) is specialized software that manages and controls computer networks, allowing devices to communicate and share resources efficiently. It provides essential functions such as user management, security, file and printer sharing, and network administration tools. Examples of NOS include Microsoft Windows Server, Linux distributions like Ubuntu Server, and Novell NetWare.

Key Takeaways

  1. A Network Operating System (NOS) is a specialized software that manages, controls, and optimizes the operation of computers within a network, enabling communication, resource sharing, and coordination among connected devices.
  2. NOS provides important network services such as file sharing, printer sharing, user authentication, and network security, making it a critical component of modern networking environments.
  3. There are two types of Network Operating Systems: peer-to-peer (P2P) and client-server. P2P networks allow computers to share resources directly, while client-server networks rely on dedicated servers to provide centralized services to user workstations or clients.


The term Network Operating System (NOS) is important because it refers to a specialized software that enables computers and other devices to communicate, share resources, and provide essential services within a networked environment.

As the backbone of modern communication and collaboration, NOS ensures the efficient functioning of various network components, such as servers, clients, and data storage systems.

This, in turn, leads to improved productivity, streamlined operations, and better security across an organization.

Moreover, NOS facilitates centralized management, allowing IT administrators to monitor and maintain the network infrastructure effectively, thereby reducing downtime and enhancing the overall performance of the system.


The primary purpose of a Network Operating System (NOS) is to facilitate communication, collaboration, and data sharing among the devices within a network. In essence, it acts as the backbone of a network infrastructure, be it a local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), or even larger networks such as the internet.

In the modern business environment, with organizations now relying more heavily on digital tools and resources to streamline tasks, NOS has become an essential element in ensuring the smooth functioning of everyday operations. Offering centralized management of resources, user accounts, and security protocols, NOS enables administrators to maintain strict control over the network and the data exchanged within it.

NOS also plays a vital role in offering crucial services, both to users and to the devices themselves. Such services include file sharing, printer sharing, remote access, email exchange, and many others, all of which empower users to communicate and collaborate with ease across the organization.

Additionally, NOS provides support for network protocols and applications, such as DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), DNS (Domain Name System), and quiets, thereby ensuring seamless device integration and compatibility within the network. All in all, Network Operating Systems are indispensable in modern networking environments, enabling both individual users and entire organizations to work more efficiently, securely, and collaboratively.

Examples of Network Operating System

A Network Operating System (NOS) is a specialized software that manages and coordinates the activities of multiple computers, servers, and other network resources. Here are three real-world examples of Network Operating Systems:

Microsoft Windows Server: Windows Server is a widely used NOS developed by Microsoft. It offers various features like file sharing, print services, application hosting, and Active Directory services, which facilitate the administration of user accounts, groups, and security policies in a network environment.

Linux-based Network Operating Systems (Ubuntu, CentOS, Red Hat, etc.): These are open-source operating systems built on the Linux kernel and used for various networking services, such as shared file systems, network file systems, and virtualization. They support a wide range of applications like Samba for Windows compatibility, Apache for web services, and OpenLDAP for directory services, among others.

Novell Open Enterprise Server (OES): OES is a NOS developed by Novell that combines the flexibility and security of Linux with the advanced networking capabilities of NetWare, a popular NOS from the 1990s to the early 2000s. OES provides various network services such as file, print, security, messaging, and directory services, along with support for various user platforms like Windows, MacOS, and Linux desktops.

FAQ – Network Operating System

What is a Network Operating System?

A Network Operating System (NOS) is a specialized operating system designed to manage network resources such as data, applications, and devices in an organized manner. This system is responsible for communication among multiple devices connected within a computer network and facilitating effective resource sharing among them.

What are the key features of a Network Operating System?

Some critical features of a Network Operating System include user management, access and security control, advanced data sharing, communication, and collaboration tools, network management protocols, remote access, and support for networking hardware components.

What are some popular Network Operating Systems?

Common Network Operating Systems include Microsoft Windows Server, Ubuntu Server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, macOS Server, and Novell NetWare.

What are the benefits of using a Network Operating System?

Using a Network Operating System offers various benefits, such as centralized management, improved collaboration, efficient resource sharing, enhanced data security, scalability, and better fault tolerance.

How does a Network Operating System differ from a standalone operating system?

A Network Operating System is designed for managing network-based resources and communication, while a standalone operating system is designed for managing resources on an individual computer. Standalone operating systems, such as Windows 10 or macOS, might support basic networking capabilities but lack the advanced network management features typically found in a Network Operating System.

Related Technology Terms

  • Client-Server Architecture
  • Network Topology
  • Network Protocols
  • File and Printer Sharing
  • Directory Services

Sources for More Information

  • Techopedia: A comprehensive online resource covering diverse topics in the IT industry, including network operating systems.
  • Computer Hope: A free platform offering computer-related information and troubleshooting guides, including pages on network operating systems.
  • Network World: A leading news source for IT professionals, focusing on networking technologies and network operating systems.
  • How-To Geek: An online magazine catering to tech enthusiasts and covering a wide range of topics, including network operating systems and tips on managing them.

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