Difference between Network OS and Distributed OS

Both Network OS and Distributed OS work on multiple systems/nodes. The main difference between a network operating system and a distributed operating system is the way they handle resources and communication between devices.

A network operating system is primarily concerned with managing resources and communication within a single network, while a distributed operating system is designed to manage resources and communication across multiple networks.

Read this tutorial to find out more about Network OS and Distributed OS and how they are different from each other.

What is Network OS?

A Network OS is a type of operating system that is used to run a system software on a server and allow the server to manage the users, groups, data, security, applications and other networking operations. It is considered as the primary form of an operating system for the distributed computer architectures.

A network operating system permits resource sharing among two or more computers that are operating under their own operating systems. However, it cannot control the utilization of resources and hence it causes the improper distribution of resources. Also, there is no provision of fault tolerance.

A network operating system provides the necessary functions for managing the network, such as managing network resources, controlling access to the network, and establishing communication between devices on the network.

What is Distributed OS?

A Distributed operating system is an operating system that runs on multiple machines and provides the appearance of a single system to the users. It is designed to allow multiple computers to work together as a single system, with each machine in the system running its own instance of the operating system and contributing its own resources to the system.

The primary objective of a distributed operating system is to introduce transparency in the system. In a distributed OS, the utilization of multiple hardware resources of computers is hidden from users. It is less autonomous because the operating system has complete control on the resources.

A distributed operating system dynamically allocates processes to random CPUs and the storage of files is also managed by the operating system which means the user does not know which hardware is being utilized for the processing and for storing the files.

Difference between Network OS and Distributed OS

The following are some of the important differences between Network OS and Distributed OS −


Network OS

Distributed OS


It provides local services to remote clients.

It manages the hardware resources.


Communication is file-based, shared folder based.

Communication is message-based or shared memory-based.


Network OS is highly scalable. A new machine can be added very easily.

Distributed OS is less scalable. The process to add new hardware is complex.

Fault tolerance

Less fault tolerance as compared to distributed OS.

It has very high fault tolerance.


Each machine can acts on its own thus autonomy is high.

It has a poor rate of autonomy


Network OS-based systems are easy to build and maintain.

It is difficult to implement a Distributed OS.

Operating System

Network OS-based systems have their own copy of operating systems.

Distributed OS-based nodes have the same copy of the operating system.


Both Network OS and Distributed OS work on multiple systems. The most significant difference that you should note here is that a Network OS is meant for providing local services to remote clients, whereas a Distributed OS is meant for managing the hardware resources.