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Nerdery: Deciding Between Operating Systems

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Everyone I know who has checked out a new computer recently has, for the most part, asked me what is the best operating system to go with. While the answers aren't all clear cut, I'll give you my breakdown of each.

Let's start with Apple, and their line of the Macintosh computers. If you're looking for a gaming computer, you pretty much want to look anywhere else. Most games are not designed to run on this operating system, though it is possible to run them through a virtual windows box. I really have to impress upon you, however, that this is a most terrible way to do it. If you want something that looks flashy and tells everyone else that you're well off, go with the Apple. It has all your basic functionality, and does video, picture, and movie editing quite well. They're very simple to use, and for that, I have to recommend them for the older batch of people that want to use a computer. Looks clean, runs well with few viruses, and hard to cause any major problems on accident. Not compatible with most programs and sometimes hard to find cables/adapters/dongles etc.

We can tackle Microsoft next, on the Windows operating system. It's less expensive than a Mac, compatible with most programs, and good for gaming. It has it's drawbacks, however, in that if you don't know what you're doing, you can very easily mess something up. It is also not as user-friendly as a Mac, and has more viruses available to harm it. However, if you run a virus scanner (not McAfee or Norton!) you will be fine. I suggest AVG and Ad-Aware. They are both great with the option to have automatic updates, and with free versions of both. Suggested for kids who are learning about, or learning through using, computers. Also suggested for anyone who doesn't need something to be over-simplified.

Linux is last, with too many distributions of the Linux operating system to list them all. You can find that list over at Wikipedia if you really want to read it. Linux, for the most part, is exactly the opposite of user-friendly. If you want a computer that is a toy, and a hobby, and a pet, you may as well install Linux on at least one of your hard drives. If you're considering Linux, I hope you are computer savvy enough to not need an article like this, but just in case, if you're questioning whether or not you should try it, dual-boot. If you can't figure out how to dual-boot, Linux is not for you. If you can figure it out, it still may not be; give it a go anyway. Either way, Linux is free and open source.

The only real way to decide, however, is find out if the software you need works on the machine, look at pricing to find if it's in your range, and then use one of each and see how you like it.


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