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An operating system, or “OS,” is software that communicates with the hardware and allows other programs to run. It is comprised of system software, or the fundamental files your computer needs to boot up and function. Every desktop computer, tablet, and Smartphone includes an operating system that provides basic functionality for the device. Common desktop operating systems include Windows, OS X, and Linux. While each OS is different, most provide a graphical user interface, or GUI, that includes a desktop and the ability to manage files and folders. They also allow you to install and run programs written for the operating system. Windows and Linux can be installed on standard PC hardware, while OS X is designed to run on Apple systems. Therefore, the hardware you choose affects what operating system(s) you can run.