There is an excerpt from a book concerned with operating systems:

We have seen that operating systems have two main functions: providing abstractions to user programs and managing the computer’s resources. For the most part, the interaction between user programs and the operating system deals with the former; for example, creating, writing, reading, and deleting files. The resource-management part is largely transparent to the users and done automatically.

It is not clear to me why authors used the word transparent here. This word primary meaning is about a quality that enables to see through an object and notice things that otherwise obscured. But in fact, an operating system should do its best to hide dreadful intricacies of resource management from a user.

Perhaps transparent in this place implies an operating system provides a layer of abstraction which are easier to understand for a user (transparent has such figurative meaning: simple, clear, and easy to understand). But still in respect to OS it is all about concealing weeds, so is this word suitable in this context?

1 Answer 1


I would agree with you that transparent is not the clearest word to use here, if you'll pardon the pun. But there is a similarity to hidden, which might have been a better choice: things that are transparent and things that are hidden are both impossible to see. So when authors say the resource management system is transparent to the users they mean the users don't see it.

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