There are several options when it comes to choosing an operating system for your computer. Of course, Windows is the overwhelming heavyweight in the marketplace, and it isn’t a bad choice in some ways, especially for those not interested in the nuts and bolts of things. Also looking for users are Linux, BSD, and Leopard.
The good side of Windows is that it is made to operate programs. The wide variety of software that works here is a huge selling point. You don’t have to be a programmer or even a techie to be a user. Everything comes from a disc or a download. Click the install button, and away you go. Word processors, Spreadsheets, Games, Synthesizers, Photo Editors, Art Creators, Email Handlers, Bookkeepers, and Website Makers are some of the most common. Then there are the not so popular yet also intriguing out of the mainstream volumes such as File Converters, Iso File Makers, Virus Hunters, Adware Killers, and endless utilities you may discover once you start looking. There is a small utility that saves clips (as many as you want) that can be posted anywhere, so you don’t have to retype all the time.
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That’s the good side of Windows. Just so you know it’s not all roses and candlelight, you should know there are some drawbacks too. Everything you do on Windows should be backed up regularly. Why? Because just about the time your five-week project is within a few paragraphs of completion, Windows will have a hiccup and lose the whole thing, or some virus will erase your hard drive, or you’ll press the delete button accidentally. Boom, it’s all toast. Another thing about Windows is that it’s already programmed; you have to accept it as it is. If it doesn’t have a feature you need, you’re out of luck. If the button arrangement is not convenient (although there is some flexibility), you must adapt. Don’t need all the bells and whistles? You stuck with them. Then there are the slow days when it all just seems to sit there and mock you taking its sweet time. It’s no wonder someone occasionally tosses one out the 10th story window.
So, what are the other options? Well, first is Leopard, which is the Macintosh operating system. Apple Computers make Macintosh. If you don’t know who Steve Jobs is, you must live in a dark and depraved world. As they are known, Macs cost a little more than other systems (about twice the price of a Windows machine). I will tell you right here that I have yet to meet a Mac user that has a bad word to say about his or her machine. If you get one, you are practically guaranteed to love it. They are the choice of graphic artists almost universally. The local ad sheet for the city is made on them, so they make commercially viable tools.
The negative side. Not a lot, really. There isn’t as much software made for them, but the ones you get are extremely well made. A lot of the less popular stuff doesn’t exist for Macs. That, along with the higher price, are the main hitches.
Another option is Linux. The Linux operating system is actually free at this time, so the price is right. There are many flavors (versions) of Linux, so you don’t have to use the same thing everyone else has. Some that I know of are:
- Red Hat
- Damn Small
Each one has advantages and limitations because they are geared toward a certain area such as games, internet, or servers. They have ways to go to become popular, yet are making great strides in market share. Also, if you can do the programming, Linux offers wonderful access to the code. In the last year or so, it has become quite easy to obtain and install Linux on any computer. In fact, it will coexist right alongside Windows, so now there is little excuse for not trying it out. They offer a GUI similar to Windows and Leopard, which is fairly intuitive. Some software is quite comparable to the bigger fish. OpenOffice will take Office on and come through looking pretty good. Gimp has a learning curve but can do much of what Photoshop does for free.
The downside is that Linux is just not as developed. It is a terrific platform for geeks that love to swim through a code and troubleshoot glitches. The creative potential is unlimited, which is the main drawback at the same time. Most people want something ready to go, not something they have to create before they can operate. The number of programs (though growing) is quite limited.
The last of our operating systems to consider is BSD. Just like Linux, it is free (though there is a commercial version). The major selling point is that it is the most modern system. It doesn’t have the backward compatibility issues with Windows. Many advances in hardware have been made since Windows was introduced, that you wouldn’t believe some of it. BSD was created to take advantage of these advances. It has the most potential of all these systems because of its modern design. It is quite compatible with and similar to Linux, just more modern.
That at the same time is it’s the largest problem. Most of the accessories that go with an operating system (software and interface) are lacking. It’s like having a Ferrari engine and framework without the rest of the drive train.