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Linux, Mac OS X, Vista and XP: head-to-head

Operating systems at war - but who wins?

When it comes to an OS, what should you choose? Each of the four biggest players; Linux, Mac OS X, Windows Vista and Windows XP all have their merits. So we've taken four experts and asked them to defend their chosen operating systems in an opinionated free-for-all.

Linux: clean and friendly

And in some cases, native Linux applications may serve you just as well. OpenOffice is a mature replacement for Microsoft Office, and there are good (and free) tools for video and photo editing, audio editing, and many other common applications. Just do a quick Google search for 'Linux video editing', for example, and you'll see what I mean.

More importantly, increasing numbers of applications are transitioning to web-based versions using JavaScript or Flash/Silverlight/Flex/Air. Who cares if you can't run TurboTax on Linux, when you can use the web-based TurboTax right from your browser?

Finally, the Linux desktop experience is now the match of any other desktop GUI in existence. The user interface is intuitive and clean, but still powerful. If you choose a user-friendly distribution such as Ubuntu, installing Linux is as easy as installing Windows and unlike Windows, you can even ‘try before you buy’ since distributions such as Ubuntu have a 'live' install CD/DVD.

You can even run a full Linux distribution such as Damn Small Linux from a 128MB (or larger) USB drive. Did your Windows PC crash again? Plug in the USB drive, and you've got access.

Heck, most Linux distributions will even shrink a Windows partition and set up dual-booting automatically. Ignore all the fear, uncertainty and doubt you'll hear about nightmare installs and bad device support - that's from the bad old days!

Linux: bottom line

Linux is free, fast, small, powerful, stable and flexible. It will get you off the 'new hardware every other year' life cycle and let you concentrate on being productive rather than playing nursemaid to your operating system. You almost certainly already have Linux in your home or business, even if you don't know it. So why not give it a try on your desktop?

NEXT PAGE: Apple's attention to detail

  1. We put Linux, Mac OS X, Windows Vista and Windows XP head-to-head
  2. Why James Turner thinks Linux is best
  3. Clean, friendly and powerful interfaces
  4. Apple's attention to detail
  5. The security features of Mac OS X
  6. Vista's tweakability and extras
  7. Why Vista beats other operating systems hands down
  8. XP's security features
  9. The bottom line when it comes to XP


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