Archive for February, 2010

Windows vs. Mac OS X vs. Linux: The Operating System Battle

Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux? That has been the age-old dilemma that is now gaining more and more attention as each operating system is progressing at a record pace. This summary will give you a comprehensive and thorough examination of each operating system, their advantages, disadvantages, and a final summary of which one is better. Please note that all conclusions are self-drawn opinions that are supported by facts. However, it does not guarantee that these thoughts are truths.

Windows, the pride of the Microsoft Corporation, has had a long and rough history since its beginnings. It is currently being used by 80-90% of all computers, which is mainly composed of desktop computers. These figures, like those of another Microsoft product, Internet Explorer, are starting to decline as other products and systems are getting more attention. It is still, however, very popular and used by most home users and companies. Beginning it’s story in 1981, it has now gotten close to completely monopolizing the computer operating system field. To some who are less computer-savvy, it appears to be the only operating system in the world. Over the years, it’s developed into an operating system that has become feature-filled and simply huge, especially with Windows Vista and Windows 7.

With our introduction out of the way, let’s get on to what Windows is, can do, and can’t do. Windows is know for it’s user friendliness, large hardware support, and the large amount of software available for it. However, it is also closed-source and is very well know for some of the greatest computer headaches in existance: viruses, spyware, malware, gradual performance decay, and the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). This means that as long as the user doesn’t want to see their system go down in fairly short time, they need to install security and maintenance software. Even then, the system isn’t 100% covered. Overall though, you can run the most programs, games, and devices on Windows, and with enough effort to maintain it, is a very effective operating system.

On a completely different side, Mac OS X is another operating system that should be reckoned with. It includes a very appealing interface with many programs that integrate tightly into the system. There are also a handful of programs that work just in Mac OS X that have received very well reviews. Mac OS X is based on Darwin, and is therefore correctly titled as a Unix operating system, complete with Unix certification. Because it’s built differently than Windows, programs made for Windows won’t work under Mac OS X, unless the application is made cross-platform to make it work over several operating systems. It doesn’t get Windows viruses because of its design (Unix), which automatically makes it numerous times safer than Windows. It also supports many peripherals attached to it, providing ease of use with cameras, printers, etc. In this sea of advantages it has, especially over Windows, there are two huge obstacles that keep it from being an ultimate contender: Both due to hardware support in specific areas and usage restrictions in its license, Mac OS X can only be run on systems built by Apple, such as the Mac mini, iMac, etc. This means that if you want to run Mac OS X without hacking it and then running it illegally, you will have to buy an Apple computer, which are more expensive than normal PCs, and may break your bank. Also, Mac OS X is, like Windows, mainly closed-source.

Last but not least we have Linux in our comparison. Linux is the general term that is used for the large collection of Linux distributions (distros for short), where all distros use the Linux kernel. Linux has a large number of advantages that can benefit everyone, no matter what they use their computer for. One of the most important points is that Linux is open-source. This means that anyone in the whole world can look through the source code of Linux and any other part of the distribution and find any bugs, security holes, or any other problems within the source code, and either fix it themselves, or give their findings to someone who can fix the problem. Open source, which is most characterized by the GNU GPL (GNU General Public License), which lets you create, modify, and redistribute any software freely that is using the GNU GPL, is very advantageous in that everything is free, both price-wise and freedom to do anything you want with the program. This can help individuals and companies with a small or even nonexistent budge create a robust system (and network). Second, Linux is classified as Unix-like, so you get the great flexibility and power of Unix (with tweaks). However, it contains no Unix code, but is a Unix-like replica made of open-source code. Third, there are also many great applications that work on Linux, such as, Pidgin, and GIMP. In fact, Pidgin and GIMP were first made for Linux and were eventually ported to other operating systems like Windows because of their popularity. Linux also has very good hardware support, and unique features/programs, such as GNOME, KDE, XFCE, and Compiz. Applications that work for Windows and Mac OS X are most likely also ported to Linux, and some Windows-only programs even work in Linux without any modifications through the use of Windows Compatibility Layer programs, such as the popular WINE program. Finally, Linux is also a fairly universal language (depending on the distribution), and can have a number of different languages installed and active. Linux is also most popular when used in servers, which is runs the famous LAMP application stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP), as well as many other server applications and services.

Overall, each operating system has its own perks. After doing my own calculations and weighting my own opinions of each, Linux seems to me like the best operating system of choice. Call me a Linux fanboy or whatever you want, but Linux has so many areas that are already having amazing effects on users and others that show major promise, I see Linux eventually getting a major market share, just like how Firefox is starting to topple Internet Explorer. Even though Linux has less than 2% of the market, it’s mainly because Linux isn’t well known to all users, plus it is hard for some to migrate to Linux because they try to use their Windows mindset on Linux, which just doesn’t work well. That, in effect, also shows that Microsoft has closed the minds of users with their monopolizing, closed-source Windows to other ideas.

Since this is only my opinion in the battle of the operating systems, what do you have to say about the three operating systems? Leave a comment! Tell us your favorite, and why!

Note: This blog post has been written with major but short-term inspiration. Therefore, please excuse the lack of pictures, links, and other eye candy for the time being until edited in.

Preview: The major wave of battles has just begun with the fundamental software inside computers, the operating systems. As the internet becomes more and more a part of every computer user’s life, we also need to take a major look at the major internet browsers out there. So, soon to come: The Battle of the Browsers! The list of browsers compared will include Firefox, Internet Explorer (7 and 8), Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera.


Ubuntu Alternatives: Kubuntu and Fedora

Don’t get me wrong, Ubuntu is a great operating system that shouldn’t really need an alternative. However, some people just don’t exactly like Ubuntu, or prefer to have some alternatives to their alternatives. This time we will be talking about two popular Ubuntu alternatives, Kubuntu and Fedora.

Kubuntu isn’t necessarily a complete alternative to Ubuntu. In fact, the main system is based on Ubuntu. So what’s different? If you’re Linux-savvy, you’ll recognize that the K in Kubuntu will represent KDE, which is the desktop environment of Kubuntu. Ubuntu uses GNOME, which has a different look. Kubuntu has two advantages over Ubuntu: It has a more appealing appearance and it is closer to the Windows desktop than GNOME is. Sadly thou, advantages come with disadvantages. A more appealing desktop requires a higher amount of resources, so it’s not meant for low-resource systems. If this is your case, you might want to try Xubuntu, which uses the very-low resource Xfce desktop environment. Also, if you’re acquainted with some GNOME applications, there is a good change that it won’t be installed in a KDE desktop. Instead it’ll have a KDE counterpart, which, in most cases, isn’t exactly the same.

With the pros and cons out of the way, it’s definitely something that you should at least try out if you have a spare blank CD lying around. At least for testing purposes it seems to be a very solid OS with a lot of nice features. Especially in the latest Kubuntu version (9.10 Karmic Koala), you’ll notice the magic that is presented to you with KDE 4.3. If your computer can handle the demands of KDE, you’ll be happy to experience the blend of blues, along with very smooth transitions of menus, just to say the least.

Now if you just can’t stand Ubuntu in general as the underlying system, but GNOME and KDE are fine, then there are options. Of all the possibilities, my personal choice would be Fedora. A RPM-based free desktop distribution from Red Hat, it packs enough power to do virtually anything. Fedora is available with GNOME or with KDE. There are a handful of differences between Ubuntu and Fedora, with some of the most obvious ones that you will notice during use is that Fedora installs applications using .rpm files, whereas Ubuntu (and Debian) use .deb files. Another difference is that Ubuntu uses apt for it’s package manager; Fedora uses yum. Something that you may not notice is that (last time I checked) Fedora uses slightly newer versions of applications than Ubuntu, but these differences appear to be very minor.

Overall, Linux distributions are all unique in their own way. Personally Ubuntu is my favorite, due to its ease of use and the fact that I learned Linux using Ubuntu. Whether your favorite is Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Debian, Fedora, openSUSE, Mandriva, or any other distribution, use whatever you feel comfortable with. And even if you only know Ubuntu and are extremely comfortable with it, it’s still well worth to look at what other Linux possibilities are available.

If you’ve been reading this, why don’t you tell us what distribution YOU use? Why do you like it?