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Network Operating System vs. Distributed Operating System — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 18, 2024
A Network Operating System manages network resources, while a Distributed Operating System manages resources across multiple machines as a single coherent system.
Network Operating System vs. Distributed Operating System — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Network Operating System and Distributed Operating System


Key Differences

A Network Operating System (NOS) is designed for managing data and other resources among multiple computers in a network, whereas a Distributed Operating System (DOS) manages a collection of independent computers and makes them appear to the users as a single coherent system.
In NOS, each computer operates independently with its own OS, but they are connected for resource sharing. DOS, however, presents an illusion of a single operating system governing multiple computers.
NOS focuses on providing network services like file sharing and printing, and users are aware of the multiplicity of machines. DOS, in contrast, aims at transparency in the use of multiple machines.
The NOS is more about resource sharing and communication between different systems in a network. DOS, on the other hand, is about coordinating and utilizing the resources of various computers in a unified manner.
Administration in NOS is typically for each system independently, while in DOS, it is centralized as if administering a single system.

Comparison Chart

Resource Management

Manages network resources individually.
Manages resources across multiple machines.

System Independence

Each system operates independently.
Systems work in a coordinated manner.

User Perception

Users aware of multiple machines.
Appears as a single unified system to users.

Main Focus

Resource sharing and network services.
Resource coordination and unified operation.


Managed per system.
Centralized management as one system.

Compare with Definitions

Network Operating System

It operates on individual servers in a network, managing each one's resources.
The Network Operating System efficiently manages each server's resources in our office network.

Distributed Operating System

A Distributed Operating System manages a group of independent computers as a single system.
Using a Distributed Operating System, our computing tasks are efficiently processed across multiple servers.

Network Operating System

A Network Operating System manages networked computers, sharing resources and information.
Windows Server is a popular Network Operating System used in many business environments.

Distributed Operating System

DOS coordinates and shares the resources of physically separate machines.
The Distributed Operating System seamlessly handles data processing across our distributed network.

Network Operating System

NOS facilitates functionality such as file sharing, printer access, and network communication.
With a Network Operating System, employees can access shared files from any networked computer.

Distributed Operating System

It provides a unified and transparent environment to users, hiding the complexities of the distributed nature.
Users experience a cohesive system, thanks to our Distributed Operating System, despite the underlying distributed architecture.

Network Operating System

NOS provides tools for network administration and security.
The Network Operating System ensures secure communication between our company's computers.

Distributed Operating System

It centralizes the management of multiple computers, treating them as a single entity.
Our Distributed Operating System simplifies administration by centrally managing our dispersed computing resources.

Network Operating System

It allows multiple computers to communicate and share resources over a network.
Our Network Operating System enables seamless sharing of resources across the entire network.

Distributed Operating System

DOS focuses on reliability and high availability through resource sharing across computers.
The Distributed Operating System ensures our critical applications are always operational by distributing the workload.

Common Curiosities

What's the main advantage of a Distributed Operating System?

DOS offers high reliability and resource utilization by distributing tasks across multiple machines.

How is a Distributed Operating System different from a Network Operating System?

DOS manages multiple computers as a single cohesive system, unlike NOS, which manages individual networked computers.

What is a Network Operating System?

It's an OS designed for managing and coordinating network resources and services.

Is user interaction with multiple machines noticeable in a Network Operating System?

Yes, in NOS, users are typically aware of interacting with different networked machines.

Can a Network Operating System facilitate resource sharing?

Yes, NOS enables resource sharing like files and printers among networked computers.

Are Network Operating Systems suitable for large distributed environments?

NOS is more suited for local networks; for larger distributed systems, DOS is preferable.

How does a Distributed Operating System enhance reliability?

By distributing processes across various machines, DOS enhances system reliability and availability.

Can Distributed Operating Systems handle complex computing tasks?

Yes, DOS can handle complex tasks by leveraging the combined power of multiple computers.

How do Network Operating Systems handle network traffic?

NOS manages network traffic effectively by optimizing resource sharing and communication protocols.

Can Distributed Operating Systems improve processing speed?

Yes, by distributing workload, DOS can significantly improve processing speed and efficiency.

What is a common use case for Network Operating Systems?

Common use cases include managing local networks in offices for file sharing and networked applications.

Does a Distributed Operating System provide a unified user interface?

Yes, DOS provides a unified interface, making multiple computers appear as a single system to users.

What is the role of a Network Operating System in security?

NOS plays a crucial role in securing network communications and protecting shared resources.

Is centralized management feasible in Network Operating Systems?

NOS typically involves decentralized management, with each server being managed independently.

Do Distributed Operating Systems require specialized hardware?

DOS may require more sophisticated networking hardware to efficiently manage distributed resources.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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