Tech, Gadgets, Photography, Social Media and Poor Spelling
So which is the best OS?
Lets start with the honest truth right out of the blocks, there isn’t a best OS, there isn’t a worst OS, there is only preference and the right tool for the job you want it to do.
However asking this very simple question which is the best Operating system in some corners of the Internet, is like throwing a slab of raw meat into a wild animal enclosure and watching as the question gets ripped apart. Its tantamount to asking which religion or political system is the best in the way some will tear strips off others.
I have learnt over the last few days that there are three things I won’t talk about at parties any more Religion, Politics and Operating Systems.
While most of the people I’ve asked this question to over the last few weeks have either provided me with passionate acceptance speech like diatribes as to why their choice of OS is better some answers did interest me.
I cannot explain just how many people in the last two weeks who I know are linux users, when the subject of Ubuntu comes up have said this to me. And interestingly when I ask “what is it about Unity you don’t like” usually after a few seconds of thought there were 3 common answers
I cant stress just how common an answer these were, along with complaints about Ubuntu in general with apt-get not having enough features, Canonical are a closed source company and don’t respond to the community and lack of hardware support (the i couldn’t get (name device) working on Ubuntu..
Now I can’t argue to or for any of these arguments, I use Ubuntu with Unity on my TV box mainly because it is so simple to setup, and on my Ultrabook because it did have the support, however I use Sabayon on my Work PC and OSX as a home server, more on that later, what I can however suggest is the initial out of the box experience is very important, first impressions count. the first release of Unity were prone to crashing on some hardware, and you don’t get the proprietary drivers out of the box as you might do on some other distros. You could solve almost all the Unity grievances with some simple time spent on Google. However in this modern world, that Out of the Box feeling is very important.
Much as a good experience will keep you as a user, a negative one will probably lose you quicker, i’m prone to avoiding KDE4 like the plague as i was an early adopter and as such had my fingers burnt with a buggy, pre-release (which to be fair the KDE team told the industry was a pre-release) however a recent experience with OpenSUSE showed that actually its a solid GUI. And in the same way experience with and OS can determine if you use it or not, the information available online about a distro creates a perception. I’d agree there is a lot of negativity about Ubuntu and the community, maybe that’s because they took the bull by the horns and kicked it a few years ago, maybe they actually are not passing fixes up the tree (so to speak) quickly enough, again personal experience has taught me that askubuntu, ubuntuforums are responsive, however again, its interesting how negative information and experiences can have such an impact on our choices. Especially when many times the information we have may not be as accurate now as it maybe was in the past.
Actually amongst most users who don’t use Windows, the first answer to why don’t you use Windows was “its shit”, again asking why, and a breif pause, the reply was usually its insecure. Which is interesting, because a patched setup Windows 7 machine is actually, considering the target base, no less secure than a Linux or OSX machine. Yes there is the argument that historically Microsoft tried to make a client OS secure and *nix based systems are derived from far more secure servers so are inherently secure, however that was the past.
Any Operating system not setup correctly is insecure from Android to Zentyal (see what i did there A to Z) if you don’t get it setup right, your probably going to get pwned at some point. Much of that has to to with the creators and the tools they supply during setup, i can’t think of a single mainstream OS other than Red Hat which during installation asks you to setup a firewall and very few do much more than ask about updates.
Again, Windows has a perception problem, because it hits the headlines harder when they get compromises however Microsoft have proven to be faster than Apple (java and flash updates pre Mountain lion?) for releasing patches.
Now if you want an OS which is prone to manufacturer caused insecurity, that will be Android..
When asked about OSX, again, the Linux tribe poo poo’s it generally as an over expensive hobby, Which is interesting as I did have one person descibe why he uses OSX is “the balance it gives me with stable commercial and well thought out Apps, yet at the same time i can drop to a bash shell and get funky with that”
It also seems OSX is having a similar issue to Ubuntu in so much as more people jump on the OSX band wagon, Apple have had to make the OS even more consumer friendly, which in some corners has been seen as letting go of those who stood by the OS when it was a second class citizen. While that may or may not be true Apple is a business with shareholders and has to sell to the mass market, a market which are increasingly purchasing Apple Mac’s off the back of an iPhone/iPad purchase and not to replace a Windows Desktop quite as much. So from a business perspective it makes perfect sense to pitch the features of IOS in OSX, and grab the 90% who will upgrade maybe every 2 years as opposed to that faithful 10% who will either groan and carry on using, or will eek out their kit till it’s dying and then move on.
I think however its true to say that OSX has moved on since the days when it was the Marketing dept who used it..
Then there are the general flame wars which always kick off when you go down this path of questions, KDE is better than Gnome is better than Unity is better than XFCE, nano is better than emacs is better than vim, apt-get vs emerge vs zapper vs rpm, Gui vs Command line, every corner of this industry is an argument waiting to happen
These usually are based on being familiar with one over another and not any substance or fact.
The thing about an Operating System is, you spend a huge amount of time invested with it, be it on your Mobile or Desktop its a very personal experience. You put your choice of apps, and your data on it, and spend most of your day using one, in some cases you probably spend more time with your OS than the people you care about. Its a personal choice you’ve invested in, one which is you’re tool of choice.
Choice is also important to us, our choice in life reflect the people we are, they define us, what we wear, what music we listen to, what religion we follow, political party we vote for are all choices we make and in today’s ever connected society our IT equipment also says a lot about us, potentially just as much as our cloths.
And when it comes to operating systems there is a choice for just about everyone, which has to be a good thing, that availability of choice, the diversity and availability is such a good thing, while we stick to our choices like a tribal leader its the choice of alternatives which actually keeps the whole industry moving forward. Features come and go from each OS, move from one to the other.
The right choice is a simple one, its finding the right tool for the job, as was explained to me if you are programming in dotNET then you use a Windows PC, however Ubuntu has great Ruby Support. If you need to quickly sort out your itunes collection, OSX might be the better choice than Windows. Sometimes however, mobiles are a good example of this, we don’t choose the right tool for the job, we choose on looks and fads. maybe the right tool for the job isn’t an iPhone or an Android. There are many examples during my conversations of people not liking their choice of OS on their mobile and swapping at the first available opportunity.
What was very interesting about these people was to a person they all admitted that while they had the phone they had they fought for it like it was their first born.
That statement alone goes some way to explain a lot because even though the phone wasn’t one they wanted, and they really wanted another phone with a different OS, pride, stupidity, loss of face, something had that opinion steadfast.
It is very difficult to change peoples opinions on operating systems, a few people were willing to give a different Os a shot, try Linux, Windows, a different distro however as soon as the learning curve became too hard, they couldn’t figure out how to do something they did in their OS of choice the negativity often kicks in and they will revert to form.
Again, human nature rearing its head, we don’t like change, we like the comfort of what we know, and the pain threashold of change is a difficult thing to overcome
Like an addict, you have a reason to give up and try something new.. Which does happen as Windows 8 is proving, and Vista before it, as OSX is proving for the original users or people looking to change from the now mainstream Ubuntu..
We are bound by our choices, find it hard to change them unless we have a reason to, but can do if the pain level is righ. There is no such thing as the perfect OS, only the right tool for us and the job we want them to perform. We find excuses, reasons to justify out choices however most to the time they are just that, sometimes they are based on experience, most of the time on FUD. Forcing an OS on someone is never going to work, and suggesting one might seem like a great idea, but usually ends in disaster.
So the answer to the question..
Fedora vs OpenSuse vs Gentoo vs Ubuntu vs OSX vs Windows
I can’t even hope to answer that..