distributed network operating system

Network operating system

A network operating system (NOS) is software that controls a network and its message (e.g. packet) traffic and queues, controls access by multiple users to network resources such as files, and provides for certain administrative functions, including security.

The upper 5 layers of the OSI Reference Model provide the foundation upon which many network operating systems are based.


Network operating system features may include:


  • 6WINDGate, 6WIND software packages that turn Linux distributions into routers's control plane and data plane.
  • Cisco IOS (formerly "Cisco Internetwork Operating System") is a NOS having a focus on the internetworking capabilities of network devices. It is used on Cisco Systems routers and some network switches.
  • BSD, also used in many network servers.


Some device operating systems, including Mac OS X and all versions of Microsoft Windows since Windows 2000, include NOS features. Some common network operating systems for DOS and Windows systems have included Novell NetWare, LAN Manager, and Banyan Vines. These operating systems are not themselves network operating systems. A NOS is an OS that has been specifically written to implement and maintain networks.

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