|MAC vs. Windows Vs. Linux
I run all three platforms on my home LAN for a year, and here's my thoughts on them...
Once upon a time, I considered myself a nerd/geek, I don't anymore. Not because I lack the knowledge to be one, but rather, I'm sick and tired of this petty O/S war between the three major computing platforms. Because, honestly, they all are great for some things, and suck at others. I'm talking about Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Apple Mac OS X.
Microsoft Windows was released in 1985 and had a working beta as early as 1983. Originally it was just a dumpy graphical shell that ran on top of MS-DOS to make computers "easier to use" for the layperson. It failed to catch on as a platform until sometime around 1992-1993, when Windows 3.1 started to gain the platform some traction, but it really took off in 1995, when the highly influential Windows 95 was released. In 2001, the entire MS-DOS based 9x series + Me were discontinued and replaced with the Windows NT based Windows XP, the failed version "Vista", then the much beloved Windows 7, the tablet brotherws Windows 8 and 8.1, and then Windows 10, which is where we are now, though there is a new Windows 11 already out too (which I won't be using). Microsoft has change their interface numerous times, finally settling on the "explorer.exe" interface in Winidows 95, then taking it away for Windows 8, then bringing it back for 10, now taking it away again for Windows 11. Windows has traditially always run on intel(-derived) x86 an x64 based CPUs, though there have been variants that run on ARM or other processor architectures. Windows can be bought as a standalone product, usually ranging between $99.00 to $350.00 a license depending on the type of release. Microsoft's logo has changed over the years but it's all revolved around being a Window represented by 4 tiles.
Apple Mac OS X was initially released in 1984 for the Apple Macintosh as "system Software", later renamed Mac OS towoard the end of the 80's or beginning of the 90's, then changing it's name once again at the start of the 21st century to Mac OS X with trendy codenames like "Sierra" or "Snow Leopard" or "Monterey". Apple contrasts to Microsoft in that they have a consistant interface from version to version, even across System -> Mac OS -> Mac OS X. What's not consistant is the hardware. The original Macintosh machines were powered by Motorola 68000 cpus, then changing to IBM PowerPC CPUS in the early 90's "Nu-Bus" Power Macs, then changing yet again by the mid 2000's to the Intel x64 architecture, now moving to a brand new CPU as of 2021 on aa completley different ARM-type architecture. This can make it complicated when it comes to used Apple hardware on the 2nd hand market, but luckily, unlike Microsoft who tends to gatekeep their releases to the point of absurity, Apple offers ALL versions of OSX on their website free for download, from the original Macintosh from 1984, all the way to the most recent Macs. Apples logo is consistant with their proprietary hardware in being an apple with a chunk bitten out of it, sometimes rainbow colored, sometimes chrome, sometimes some other monochromatic form.
Linux was created by Linus Torvaldes in the late 1980's as a clone of SCO Unix, by AT&T. This particular operating system is free to the public and downloadable freely on the internet. It runs on both Apple, AND PC hardware, as well as many other platforms (ARM, x86, etc, everything down to a i386 PC can still run Linux, and there are even distros that run on OLDER hardware like 286's and 8088s). Linux is unique in that there is not one singular "linux", but rather a bunch of distributions and for the layman what I call "sub-distributions" based on mainstream distros. These mainstream distros include Slackware (the original), Debian, Red Hat, and Ubuntu, with Ubuntu being the mos531681t popular. Sub distributions include things like Tiny Linux (Slackware), Linux Mint (Ubuntu), Puppy Dog Linux (Debian), or Fedora Core (Red Hat). My personal preference is toward Linux Mint for it's lighter hardware requirements but it's modern capabilities. Another upside to Linux is it's ability to run applications from other platforms as well with emulation layers such as Wine or at worst Oracle Virtualbox. Most versions are free for download, with some costing money for an "enterprise" (business) distribution (RedHat is notorious for this). Linux has a mascot called "Tux" the Penguin, though each distribution tends to come up with their own logo.
Anyway, we are going to look at each O/S in the various facits a day to day, home use PC would go through. Now, the general mainstream nerd/geek view is Linux is great only for them, Macintosh is for stupid people, and Microsoft is for business (but still sucks). My general view iis Windows is better for gaming, Mac is better overall for someone who wants a faster learning curve, but Linux provides the most options and the most bang for the buck. So let's talk about these preconcieved notions about each O/S that Nerds/Geeks have fought about for decades.
Windows - Windows is generally loved because you kind of "have to". Businesses all over the world have invested billions to trilions of dollars in the Microsoft ecosystem on their networks, making business computing it's strongsuit - and litte wonder, Windows was born off of MS-DOS, which was born because of the original International BUSINESS Machines (IBM) PC 5150 in 1981. For the world to shift largely to another architecture would be costly, difficult, and would mean retraining an entire populace to use the new architecture. The Windows user stereotype is that man in Khakis, Dockers, and Slacks, maybe with a tie, and a pair of reading glasses, gazing over an excel spreadsheet. The Young Windows user stereotype is a fat guy in mom's basement sucking down a Jolt Cola playing a MMORPG that needs nearly a sturdy file Server level machine just to run, and has a video card with more fans in it than your HVAC system. The brands most associated with Microsoft today are Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, ASUS, Dell, Alienware, Dell, HP, and Dell - because most people buy Dells now instead of IBM (as IBM sold their PC business in 2004). Most of the mainstream has moved on to phones and tablets from their "Wintel" computers though, and mostly do everything on their portable devices, making business the most common use next to gaming.
Apple - Apple is viewed as a trendy, fashionable, and easy to use. Typically it's users are viewed as being hipsters, musicians, artists, and producer types creating art and music. That said, the true REAL lot of the userbase is upper-middle-class or richer people, because the hardware costs up to 3x what a similarly equipped PC would cost for the end user, putting it out of reach of the regular joe like me brand new. Apple's hardware is pretty solid, somewhat more solid than the PC manufacturer's hardware is, which is likely why the cost is higher, and has a tendency to fail a lot less. However, Apple has picked up marketshare in recent years due to their popularity and branding, plus the prestige and cult-of-personality around it's marketing wizard and co-founder Steven Jobs. Apple has classically been poo-pooed for it's lack of games, though that's somewhat improved in recent decades, but still not as good a variety as Windows. Also, Apple is a bit more spendy than PC in that you can get open source and free Windows software (sometimes), but this is far less as common for Apple.
Linux - Linux is viewed as an O/S for die-hard nerds and geeks who want to learn the deep inner workings of their computers. As such, a lot of the mianstream is unaware of it, and that that is tends to either write it off as "hard to use" for the layperson, or as "just for nerdy comput1er people". It does not help that when your average person tries to get into it and starts asking really basic support questions in Linux forums that several cranky admin types will start to chastise, ridicule, and make fun of the "newbie" or "linux noob" - terms used as a form of attack - to belittle their intelligence because they don't know a command that in the nerd/geek culture of Linux is basic-b**** knowledge, but is, in actuallity, quite high level for everyone else on the planet who does not eat, sleep, or breathe computers. This has turned the general public OFF of using Linux, and generally why Apple and Microsoft still dominate the regular user areas. The only time people in the mainstream tend to use Linux, is when they are unaware of it - like an IoT (Internet of Things) device like a toaster, your fridge, or your Keurig coffee machine.In my own personal opinion, all three are perfectly valid and usable O/S, but only one of them will come out the regining king at some things, and totally suck for others. You have to remember, operating systems were designed by people, to be used by people, and people are imperfect, therefore operating systems are imperfect, therefore there is no singular perfect operating system on the planet. They all rule and suck in their own right. TLDR, long story short for me, being a techie type, I like Linux more than any other at this point, though I harbor some misgivings about Linux as well.
So now, let's talk about my MODERN Hardware, since I have quite a smorgasboard of "modern" systems (meaning 12 years old or newer).....let's start with the Desktops..... Desktops
2009 Beigebeast - Beigebeast is a home-brew PC with an InWin Q500 Chassis, powered by a SFX form factor 250 watt PSU. The mmotherboard is an intel Desktop Board DQ45CB LG775 board with a Intel Core 2 Duo P8800 3.0GHz microprocessor and 6 Gigabytes of DDR2 800Mhz RAM. It features a 256GB SSD for the main O/S drive, and a 3TB "spindle" for storage. It uses the stock on-board Intel GMA 4000 graphics which output to DVI-D x2. The computer also features a MediaDock and Gigabit Intel LAN. Beigebeast has run Linux and Windows 10 x64 Pro.
2014 Dell Precision T3400 - This behemoth is a 2014 Dell Precision tower that weighs a ton. It's the only one still with a Floppy Drive on it. It was a scrapped ex-radiology machine repurposed for Linux from day one. It has 16GB of DDR3 Memory, a Intel Xeon CPU at 2.6GHz, and an ATI Radeon card out of a HP Computer one of my Microsoftie pals gave me a million years ago. The computer runs Linux Mint 20 64-bit off a 128GB SSD, and has a 3TB Storage Drive in back for oodles of space for my various computer activities.
2014 Dell OptiPlex 7010 - This is another disposal repurposed. This computer is a 2014 model, 2.6GHz Core i5 4th Gen with 16GB of DDR3 1677MHz RAM in it, and a 1TB Western Digital Hard Disk. This one will be running Windows 10 64-bit Professinal only, as a day-to-day Windows system in the traditional sense.
2015 Apple iMac 24" - My aunt in-law gave me this one. It's a Core i5, 2.something GHz, 8GB DDR3 RAM, 1TB HDD, bone stock, with the bluetooth keyboard and wired Apple Mouse (which I swapped with my Logitech Trackballbecause I like having the ability to left click). For the sake of this document, this is the "Apple" machine, and the sole one.Laptops
2012 Lenovo T61 - My oldest "modern" laptop, a beat to hell ex-Microsoft asset I found at a Value Village in 2018 for $3 with no HDD. It has a Core 2 Duo 2.6 GHz Centrino with 4GB of RAM, NVIDIA GPU atop the in-built Intel one for power saving. A 1280x1024 4:3 aespect ratio LCD panel, looks to be a late model Super Twisted Neumatic rather than Active Matrix like most modern screens are. It has the rubberized coating that has not yet disintegrated into gummy black muck yet, a LED thatt shines down from the keyboard bezel to light up the keyboard in the dark (LOL), and has a 512GB SSD in it dual boot with Windows 7 and Linux Mint. For a long time, it ran Windows 10.
2014 Dell Latitude E6520 - A big behemoth Core i7 running windows 10 with Discreet graphics, light up keyboard, no webcam, 256GB SSD, and a half-dead extended capacity battery. It's beat to hell, but it works. I use i t for recording YouTube Videos. My Wife Bedazzled the back of the machine not long ago. It runs Windows 10 Professional, and runs it quite well.
2014 Dell Latittude E6230 - A smaller behemoth with an i5 and 8GB of RAM running Linux Mint. This is my linux box that will be taking over for the Lenovo when it dies. I use it a lot, especially for printing since it seems to be the only computer happy with the printer.
2015 HP G6 - Some piece of crap handed over from a friend to me that my wife uses. Not a bad little computer but it does have some of the shittiest hardware of the lot. Core i3, 8GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, not slow at all, but just a bit cantankerous. Oh yeah, and I've never found a proper power supply for this one yet.
2020 Dell Precision 5530 - This is my work laptop running Windows 10 Enterprise. It's relevant because it gives us a glimpse into the corporate world of managing Windows and what goes into dealing with a Windows system that is a workhorse dedicated soley to work. For here, we will be observing what it's like to use Windows working from home, which is very relevant as the Pandemic is not over.So that should give you a good idea what hardware I'm using. I tend to favor used, cast-off-, "junk" hardware that people deem old, "obsolete", or "useless". Of course the words "buggy" "Insecure" and "Slow" also come to mind, but from my experience, that's all B.S. sprouted by the Manufacturers to spread FUD.
Let's Start at the beginning - installation
Let's say we're going to go for a fresh install on any one of the machines mentioned above with a chosen operating system. We will discuss each via the WAL system (Windows->Apple->Linux), and the pros and cons of each process.
Windows 10 - Windows 10's install process is pretty familiar, as it's pretty much identical to Windows 7, 8, and possibly even Vista and/or XP prior. You boot off the install media: a CD/DVD/USB thumb drive, using some kind of BIOS BOOT Key combination you have to read the manual or google to find out, based on the make and model of your computer. F12 is the most common key, as it is on all of my systems for some reason, though if you are PXE-Boot installing, like I ahd to do my work laptop (I work in I.T. so I build out my own machines) - then PXE boot will possibly be an option for you (if you're I.T.).
The Windows 10 installation experience goes a bit like this, power on computer, boot off the media, then you get to a purple screen that says "install now". Which is what you click to start the process. Next it will ask for a product key, me, I'm still using the one for Windows 7, so I put that in, and it will automatically activate. Somewhere in there it will ask you to upgrade if you have another Windows install on the hard disk. I typically use the install method we used at Microsoft - I just blow away all the partitions, and start over. Starting over installs pretty quick with Windows 10, likely because the base level O/S is handled by the install media, and the rest is trickled in via the background after installation. That said, it's still not as fast as Linux Mint. On the Dell 7010, my most recent install, it took about 30-35 minutes to install, and I was up and going within 45 minutes, so less than an hour. Once you are close, it'll drop you off to a screen where Cortana starts talking to you (probably to make lonely nerd boys drool). Most people probably just blow through this step, slapping the thing on their WiFi, signing into or creating a Microsoft account, ignoring all the other settings, and move on. It seems what effect the settings have on the user experience is little to nothing outside of making sure people can't find out where you are, and Microsoft not targeting their advertisting to you.
Apple takes a whole hell of a lot longer. The Modern way of installing Mac OS is to boot your mac with a special key combination - in my case (shift+)Option+Command+R - and it downloads everything off the internet. So of course, you have to wait for it to download everything, install it all, then reboot. Once it's up, then it will try and get you to create an Apple account so you can use iTutnes, iCloud, and the store foro paid applciations. The process took me about one hour and thirty minutes on my 2015 iMac. What really stinks about this is that since the OS is not on physical media, as soon as Apple decides "the past is the past, let's leave it in the past" then you won't be able to get the official O/S for your Apple anymore. After that is just installing drivers, hardware, and applications, and then you're good to go, but that's later.
Linux Mint 20 is probably the fastest install of the lot. You can boot off a "live CD" off of an actual CD/DVD, or off of a USB Thumbstick (which I prefer). Then you just double click an "install" icon on the Linux Mint live CD desktop, and you're off. The rest is pretty much like a typical setup process for something like Windows 95 or Windows 98. You pick your drive, time zone, partitioning, connect to your WiFi - all that, to make sure you can install the O/S. Once it installs, I've had it take as little as 20 minutes to install, it's pretty well usable for me right out of the box. The longest part of the install process is the first time booting up. Which is the longest part of any LInux system TBH.Out of the lot, this is what I get. Personally, I Prefer Linux the most, there's no product key, no waiting for the software to install, and the machine is usable out of the box without any reconfiguration to start with, even though it does prompt you to configure that useless time machine feature and whatnot. But the con of Linux is you have to know what timezone you are in, what time it is, understand the concepts of partitioning a hard disk drive, and whether or not you are planning to dual boot with another O/S (as is very popular with LInux). Mac OS takes a bloody long time but once it is up, it took is pretty out-of-the-box. Microsoft Windows, however, starts strongarming you to buy Office 365, use a Microsoft account (no longer optional), sign up for One DRive, use the new Edge. AT times, it feels more like the computer uses you than you use the computer.
Getting Comfortable, Settling In
So here's the thing, I use my modern machines for the same crap - music production, graphics, bills, e-mail, watching/creating YouTube videos, and writing documents, usually on Google Docs at this point. I am like electricity in that I tend to take the path of least resistance and have a short tolerance for clunky solutions unless those solutions come at a great (financial) benefit - ie the software is free. I also play games, lots of games, new and old, ranging from the original Sims all the way to The Witcher Deluxe Edition. I install Steam on all of them. There's also the same hardware every time - a Cannon LP6230DW printer on the network over WiFi, a Logitech trackball, and my Line6 HD500 guitar effects processor and Digital Audio interface, and a very old HT-VIDBOX DV Capture box, model NW06.
Windows - My first day in Windows is usually the same old crap, install firefox, gIMP, DIY Laylout Creaor, Veroroute, sign into Google, Sign into my Microsoft Account, sign into YouTube, sign into all of my bill accounts, then install Steam and install ALL of the games, because this is the only platform they all work on without much chicanery. The entire process takes me about a week to complete. Usually the first thing I start with though, is the hardware. The Line6 HD500 usually comes first because it has a very old driver, the Line6 Monkey Firmware application, and then the Software editor for all of the guitar patches on it. It also acts as my sound card at this point as well. Somewhere down the line I'll install the HT-VIDBOX because it ONLY works in Windows (I'm asking for one for christmas that works with Mac as well). I use this for getting video footage for YouTube from video games. The worst is the printer, for some reason, Canon just puts the drivers into a EXE that extracts into aa folder, and then gives little ot no instructionon how to install them, once you run trhough the install, it works, but, it can be a bit tricky to do everyting in the right order. Actually, that's the most important part of settling in on a Windows systme, doing things in the right order, because everything is just a little bit more piecemeal than it is on Apple, but things are not as much so as Linux can be.
Apple - Apple is pretty easy once you get used to the idea of all your software coming in a *.dmg (disk image) file. Most things I just download the dmg, mount it by double clicking on it from the downloads folder, then running whatever is on there, or dragging the program from it to my "apps" folder and now I have the program. However, this is ONLY for Apple tested and sanctioned apps. Installing a lot of Opensource applications - such as BlueGriffon - the HTML WYSIWYG editor, or older applicationsn no longer approved, you have to "side load" the applications, which involves a tricky mess of steps of trying to run the application, opening up a permissions window in settings, and ALLOWING the application to install. The process is obscure, and even haard to find on the internet with a Google search (I spent 30 minutes looking for it). Some applicataions, such as a surveillance application for my webcam I was planning to use, had me copying and pasting lines as a superuser in a Terminal Window like I do in Linux, but this is very, very rare and only for really fancy schmancy applications. My Line6 HD500 has support, but unfortunatley, the drivers are "old" so now Apple warns me every time I boot up that they may not work eventually and to "contact the manufacturer" for "updated drivers". This is one of the things that sucks about Apple is you are expected to participate on an even more aggressive treadmill of expensive purchases moreso than you are with Microsoft products by ways of updating your hardware every so often. I highly doubt anyone at Line6 gives a shit about some guy in the middle of the desert trying to use their 7 year old effects processor on a 7 year old iMac that refuses to run it anymore because of "drivers". They'll probably only do that if you're James Hetfield of Metallica or something like that. The HT-VIDBOX won't work with it because they make a NW07 model specifically for Apple. Honestly, siloing the hardware like this, is a stupid idea IMHO, especially something like a DV Capture card, which all it has to do is pass a video signal down the USB bus and the driver interprets it and sends it to OBS Studio.
Linux - From the get go, Firefox is the default browser. So of course I get to throw on my adlbock and noscript plugins without downloading a browser. I get settled in pretty easily. Mint's software installation database works alright most of the time as well, though you can get more options if you add more repositories. Repositories, are places on the internet where Linux applications are stored at. These can be retrived via the Software Management utility, or via a sudo apt get command with the program name at the end. Someteimes you can download it as a tarball, gunzip, rar, or zip file, unzip it, and then run a shell script by typing sudo ./nameofshellscript.sh and it will install the program, that's how BlueGriffon installs. Drivers can be often the same deal as well. However, this can be incredibly difficult to a newcomer, especially someone who is not used to using the Command Line. See, I am someone going on decade #3 of using DOS on a regular basis, so I'm used to typing in commands on a command line, and I quite well like it, because I find it faster than using a GUI, and once you learn the program well enough, you can often do more with the command line version than you can nthe GUI version these days. Unfortunatley though, if you are e newcomer, you can easily fall prey to one of Linux's most critical faults - it's cranky and often obtuse user-base. If you did not like the cranky Network Admin at work, y'll really hate most Linux user forums, because it seems at most of them, it's an "inconveience" to choose to answer a linux question. But we'll talk about that later. Also, on the downside, if the Free Software Federation can't get their hand on datasheets, specifications, and/or sample code for a piece of hardware you want to use - such as my HT-VIDBOX NW06 or my Line6 HD500 - you have only two options, find sometime more "compatible", or the harder option that I'm not even up to yet, write and compile your own drivers for the device into the Kernel.Out of the three, I call a tie. All three have some real annoyances, whether it's Microsoft Strongarming you to use their stuff, Apple strongarming you to only use approved software and devices made within the last 3 years, or Linux users on a forum nailing you to the cross because you did not read the 400 page text file that came with your copy of Linux to tell you all the uses, functions, and meanings of the super user command sudo. I also run into problems with all three due to internet browsing....
Windows - Microsoft Windows has three - actually four - mainstream browsers that work with it: Google Chrome (most popular), Mozilla Firefox (my choice), Microsoft Edge (so terrible they re-wrote it as a Chrome clone), and the unofficial 4th is that supposed-to-be-extinct dinosaur known as IE11. And you know if I'm calling it a dinosaur, it must be bad. Let'sget the bad out of the way first - Edge and IE. Windows 10 comes with Microsoft Edge as it's primary browser. Edge started off as 100% original Microsoft project - I worked there when they created it, and noboody, not even in Microsoft's company, wanted to use it. It would not render pages properly in a lot of cases, including our own I.T. ticketing system, so we were still stuck using IE11. Eventually, Microsoft kinda' wisened up and decided in recent years to start using more "Open SourcE" in their projects, so they took the Chromium engine, you know, the #1 OpenSource engine of choice used for Google Chrome, and officially insstalled as "Chromium" as a part of adware/malware installations everywhere? SO that's what Edge is, basically a rebranded Google Chrome, with some minor differences - mostly aimed at Microsofts gain (surprise, surprise). IE 11 is only provided as a "Compatibility Layer" to allow corporations and people accessing very old websites that only work in IE to use IE to access them ~ Though now the preferred methood is to input those sites into a "IE Compatibility Mode" field in Edge's settings, in which then Edge takes over the Intenret Explorer 11 rendering engine to render those sites, but even then, the engine within Edge acts a hair differently than it does in IE, often forcing you to actually USE IE. This gets even more murky in corporate settings where your IE sanctioned applications are only supported when you have to use IE from a straight IE session with IE Set as the default as a part of the contract. This gets rather irritating since if you are in a corporate environment where IE has to be the default, Microsoft constantly harasses you to "change from our outdated browser or your websites won't work properly", and it's gotten to the point that some internet sites even look for IE11 or older and say "you cannot view our webpage because you are using IE to view it, please update your browser".
So what other mainsream options are there: Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. That's what. And both of them are pretty conssitant from platform to platform, and more of a preference choice than an actual "one is better than the other" choice. Of course, Chrome comes with some perks for heavy google users, and Mozilla, being open Source, gives more perks towards blocking out all that stupid crap from the internet like advertising, and gives you fuller control over the browser as a whole. That's why I love Firefox over Chrome personally, but I like Chrome too. Both are resource hogs, what browser is not today. Unless you are running a 486 running DOS or Windows 95, I don't think resource usage is much of an issue. Even my 12 year old Lenovo T61 screams along pretty quick on a modern browser on a paltry 4GB of RAM.
Apple - Apple ships with Safari as default, though there are Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox ports for it. Most people, from my experience, with Macintosh, stick to Safari, with Chrome coming in close second. And I'll admit, Safari is not a bad browser, pretty good actually, and it's 1/8th as annoying as Microsoft is, mostly because it does not harass me nearly as much as IE and Edge do (Please make Edge your defailt (updates) Welcome to Microsoft Edge, would you like to import the data from your other browsers (that are not making us money in Telemtry and Ad revenue)?). It just does it's job, which seems to be one part that Apple DID do things right, when a program is doing a task, it tends not to harass you (usually) nearly as much as the Microsoft counteerparts tend to. Look, I understand that people want compensation for their work, but if you are computing on a shoestring budget, and a commercial application is your only choice, and the trial/evaluation/free version does the job, stop harassing me to spend money, or change my settings to appease your program, because if you don't, I'll be jumping ship as soon as a full fledged open-source alternative comes along.
Linux - Linux has a smorgasboard of browsers to use. Of course you have two of the mainstream choices: Firefox and Chrome, the former being the most popular pre-packaged browser because it is OpenSource and works with (mostly) everything. But you also have a pile of other browser which even include the text browser "Lynx". So once again, with Linux, the world is your oyster, as long as you have what it takes to learn to be a "god" of your system. For me, personally, Linux Mint comes with Firefox as the default, and that means I have to fiddle with it the least, just adblocker for YouTtube and Adblock + noscript, and the thing is locked down the way I want it to be. Done and done. D-U-N DONE! But people who don't like Firefox can also use Chrome on Linux. Either way, Linux seems to be the least fiddly of the lot with browsers from my experience, probably because of the whole "The internet was built on Linux" thing. The problem with Linux is, however, if you have a site that requires IE, then you will need to install Microsoft - usually as a joke I'll just use a Windows 3.11 For Workgroups Virtual Machine in Virtualbox with IE 5.01 with 128-bit encryptiono, just to be a jerk. At least it's not integrated into 3.1 (Progman.exe, the shining golden sierra of file managers in Windows IMHO). Once upon a time, you could spoof, and there may still be browseres for Linux with this feature, you could spoof another browser's identity, so that the website would open it's shy and fearful pages to you with open arms, and you could finally view the content intended to participate in this stupid browser wars.Honestly, the browser wars - the holy wars of the internet - are alive and well, and just as stupid. IE and Edge are competiing on who is going to be the most annoying Big Brother execuable like two siblings quarreling that share a religious hatred of anyone outside their "blue E circle", Safari is sort of like the slender, quiet, "I'm just here to work" guy in the group that just does his work and leaves everyone alone, Google Chrome is like the frosted tip businessguy with a tie who likes to show up on Zoom Meetings in weird hats, and Mozilla Firefox is like me, the outcast of the group - though I'm a bit pissed off at it for dropping FTP support, who cares if the protocol is 50 years old, if an FTP site renders as a plain HTML page that only allows downloading, the only real risk is the idiot behind the keyboard!
Software Choices: Built in vs. Downloading and installing
This is why we own computers. Because this stuff is easier done on a big screen, with a mouse and keyboard, than on a tiny touch screen, with your fingers! I'm talking about photos, graphics, video productions, music production, writing huge documents (you try typing on a QWERTY keyboard the size of a business card on a touch screen with keys the size of a Sudafed pill), programming, playing elobaorate video games on a level higher than some glorified Casino coin muncher app.
Windows Windows has been what I have used the longest, and the story on this for me is I usually have REAPER for audio prod, OBS Studio and OpenShot Video Editor for video productions, of course, whatever editor for my guitar effects pedal for making my sound for audio and video, GNU Image Manipulation Utility (aka the gIMP) for imaging, IrFanView for quick picture modification and correction, sticky notes for quick notes, and Microsoft Office for writing documents. I also used BlueGriffon prior to this site and during some of this site's early production. The benefit of Windows is these are all downloadable, and installable, to Windows, and they all work properly out of the box (for the most part). However, with that popularity, it means you have to be observant for how they try to entrap idiots with software and advertising they don't want or need int he installer, or that the host has inserted a bunch of commercial shit into an installer for an OpenSource or otherwise free piece of software as a way of spreading malwaree. Now, Windows does come with Paintbrush still (thank god they put that back) - not the new 3D one, the ooooold one that I love for making diagrams (still my fave to this day) - but I'm slowly getting more used to using Graf-X II on a variety of platforms including DOS for that! The "modern style" or once-called "Metro" apps from the Windows 8 UI tend to mix in with everything, making life hell. like I setup my Windows 10 machine - the 7010 - to default to the oldschool Windows Media Player, because I like the interface more, but it still tries to force me to use, and opens up my crap, in that f***ing "Groove" program. More recently, I've gone back to WinAMP for it (it really does whip the Llama's A$$ - to this day! i486 or 4th gen Core I7!). Just because WinAmp is not forcing me to use some metro app that will die in a few years when they realize not everyone wants to use an ARM based touch screen tablet posing as a "PC". So the upside is you get plenty of software, but if Microsoft "has that covered", then they might bug you or forcibly switch your defaults back to their product after ra large feature update. Store applications that use the new style UI introduced in 8.0 can be installed via the "windows Store". There's about a 50/50 mix of paid and free apps there and it's fairly decent. The problems with the store start in corporate ennvironments when enterprise products decide to use the store to deploy applications. I'm in agreement with most of the I.T. Industry that you don't want you users to be able to just download anything willy nilly from the store, just because NVIDIA decides it's a good idea to make that a vector for their control panel applications for the GPUs does not mean it's okay to let everyone go throwing unauthorized software on their work computers. Personally, I really hate and condemn the windows store anyway, and tend to prefer to stick with classic EXE/MSI based programs.
Apple - Apple has a pretty good variety too, including ports of MS Office, Adobe programs, and major browsers. Where they really shine is due to this weird idea that is slowly growing more and more outdated, that their THE platform for video or audio productions. The real truth of the matter is this is all just marketing fluff anymore and Apple is a pretty adept business and productivity machine as well. The problem is the amount of restriction and hand-holding Mac OS X does, as well as some obscurification of side-loading unapproved applications, that makes it a royal pain in the rear. This issue is made worse when the Apple store has applications for a task you need or want, and you need to spend $35-200+ of your hard earned cash on a software application that could be rendered not installable as soon as tomorrow. Apple's cloud based solutions tend to be terrifying by the amount of control they exert upon you, even worse than Microsoft. Where Microsoft takes control of yoyur computer by strongarming you back to their sanctioned apps via default apps, and reinstalling crap you don't want nor need during updates, Apple does this by basically offering only the latest applications that fit within their very strict guidelines, and of course, more than 75% of them will cost you at least $30-60, if not more. It's kind of hilarious that the platform that would be the "platform of artists and musicians" would only placate to those who are already established with a gold record and a few Grammy's under their belt, rather than to the starving artists who could use the power the most. This is where Apple starts to look more and more like the white and silver gowned Diva stepping onto the red carpet from her Mercedes limo, talking about saving Ethiopian Children and asking all the poor people watching TV to donate rather than try and save up for Groceries next week. Where Windows is the republican businessman and network admin, strongarming you to comply with policies in your home, while trying to sucker you into a Candy Crush Fundraiser - and ignoring it's locality's "Black Market" problem of malware, Apple is the celebrity diva virtue signalling for more money to go to a corrupt charity that I'll probably see on one of Illuminaghti's videos.
Linux - Which leaves us with Linux. Linux, being OpenSource, tends to be the easiest of which to get software for from a financial standpoint. The problem with LInux, again, is the learning curve to install, configure, and learn to use said software effectively. It throws you back into the days of Windows 3.1 - something I like - but most people today would despise. Linux is a lot like Benjamin Franklin's old saying "He who is willing to give up freedom for safety deserves neither freedom nor safety!". However, the software, for the most part, is pretty darned safe, and all free. I have yet to acquire a virus via Linux - I have had ONE virus with Windows so far - back in the Windows 7 days. I've accumulaed a lot of malware, spyware, and adware in Windows, but not so much Apple or Linux. Some people argue Apple and Linux are the same thing because the underpinnings of Apple are roughly the same, but there's a huge difference in how Mac OS X and Linux conduct themselves and expect you to conduct your activities on the system. While Apple is like a nanny and a pop diva, and Windows is a late-stage-capitalism Facist, Linux is sort of like life - it's whatever you make of it, but just like life, you've got 1001 morons around you telling you how to live your life "intelligently" - and a lot of it conflicts. From an installation standpoint - as nothing in life is free - Linux software can be quite tricky. Sometimes there's 3 different versions of the same bloody thing in the software manager, I say follow the "stars" rating in that case. Sometimes you run into an application that has 10 different methods to install specific to specific distros - one works on Gentoo, another Ubuntu, then anothe rDebian, then another RHeL, then another Slackware....and they all are different and have different rules, slights of syntax, and methods to be installed. Other times, it uses a Shell Script that will work regardless of version, I love those the best. Actually, I love anything that works like an old MS-DOS installer, because it's the most honest installer of all! Copy files, configure, and link program to GUI - that's it! And unlike Windows or DOS, you can usually read the Shell Script to see if it IS doing something malicious without a virus scanner. Where Linux truly falls short is specialized hardware based software, again, like my HT-VIDBOX, or my Line6 HD500 guitar processor.So out of this lot, personally, I love linux, but some people prefer Apple, especially those who are well-to-do. Look, Im all for capitalism, but when you have haves and have nots, and the have nots need to work tehir way up, they are going to need to use whatever they can scrape together to get by, and if that means learning a pile of open source apps, or running the trial version for many years - like I did with REAPER - then that option should be availible. But then there's keeping all this crap updated....
Today, updating an operating system is supposed to be a highly automated and touch-free process. Basically, every major commerical O/S maker claims that thir products automatically update by themselves without any user intervention, and lead an air that all of those updates are QC'd, and checked for issues. I'm here to tell you, not a single operating system in existence today for a desktop computer is fully "automatic" - there is no "automagically" in computers. Things have to be designed and setup to work that way.
Windows - The first, and the worst of the lot is Microsoft Windows. Microsoft WIndows updates work like an unruly teenager - that's my favorite analogy I came up with myself after 20 years of supporting it - it does what it wants, when it wants, how it wants. Now, the reason it does this, is, unlike an unruly teenager, more the fault of it's own company walking on eggshells because they don't want to piss off corporations and users with buggy updates that render hundreds to billsions of PCs worldwide unusable, which through orgs subscribing to the Microsoft ecosystem should be managed through WSUS and Group Policy Settings, but even still It seems out of the 4-5 companies I've worked for over the last 20 years long term, there may have only been one or two short periods of a year or two where it actually worked as intended. The problem is, Windows popularity - which almost killed Apple in the 90's BTW - has made it a prime target for viruses and malware, and the lack of security by latching onto backwards compatibility and providing all sorts of loopholes even the tech industy loves to use fo rsolving problems - causes a lot of this as well. It's only a stroke of luck that you either get the restart prompt, a random restart, or constant pestering there are unapplied updates you need to click and apply. This is even FURTHER compounded by the "sacred" practice of turning off Automatic Updates, which has been a thing since Windows 98 when automatic updates were introduced. The problem is, if you do that now, features will stop working and your O/S may be vulnerable to some serious and damaging attacks possibly. Micrsoft makes this worse by explaining tthis to people, but then it's hard, because of the large target on Windows back, if it's truly a problem, and in what cases it's just spreading FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). Updates can also take a long time, and it's not uncommon for updates to conflict with other, non-Microsoft updates, such as Adobe Creative Cloud or Dell Command Update - and whoever has taken the reigns to applying updates first will block thhe other out of the process....making update application a REAL PITA for tech people like me who encounter a machine that needs drivers, firmware, 3rd party SaaS programs (Software as a Service, such as Microsoft's Office 365 or Adobe's Creative Cloud), and it's own self awareneess of updates such as Classic Shell or OBS Studio. Lastly is the amount of time it takes to apply said updates and all the waiting. First off, there are usually three phases to update application, the actual installation, the post-Windows Session install phase where a bunch of services are shut down or disabled to allow for modification. I believe that Microsoft splits this off so as to appear that there is less needing done than there is, and so that, hidden behind the big blue curtain, the WinPE can do it's job and push all the changes required by the software. It's usually also during this some programs get moved or stored somewhere else for a time, and somtimes, Windows does not put them back. I've had problems with this and various VPN software at work dissappearing - the icon is still there, but the installed files won't stay in their C:\program files (x86)\ directory. In those cases, the only solution is to find a "scrubber" scrirpt that cleans up the binary registry and removes all traces of the software, and then reinstall - or more Linux-like and worse yet - do what I do, and manually use RegEdit to clean the registry, and then clean up all the other "debris" after a couple reboots, then reinstall, then it usually works. CTRL+F and F3 are your friend.
Apple is a lot less obstrusive. Just like Windows - who ripped it off this platform - it updates the O/S through the update service, and updates can take a stupid long time, sometimes longer than the O/S install. So you might be stuck with a Maccintosh apple with a progress bar on a blank screen for an hour or two after an update from one version to another - such as me moving from OS X Catalina to MOnterey. During that time, I used my linux and Windows 10 machines to do what needed done that day, because Apple just wanted to drag along. I'm guessing this is another design choice made because the people using it are not generally working stiffs or people who spend a lot of time at the computer - via stereotype - but rather, most likely they just pay the bills, send an e-mail to their relatives, then go out to play 18 holes of golf afterward, on a REAL golf course, or visit their Yacht Club or Fantasy Football buddies. That's what Apple is generally for. Not much else to say, big downloads, big updates. Well, I guess I could add on how Apple makes things obsolete, sometimes for seemingly arbitrary reasons - like my Line6 HD500 software that it threatens day out and day in will not work anymore and that I need too contact Line6 (or Spend $500+ on a new guitar effects processor, or start using VSTs).
Linux - Which now drops us at Linux. Linux truly shines with updates, at least Mint does. There are TWO ways of applying updates in linux, and both are neither obtrusive, nor require you to stop working to apply them, and I have yet to have a single LInux update that requires being babysat. Basically, one way is to do sudo apt -update which updates everything on the computer from the command line. Orthere's the update program in the taskbar, which just shows an orange shield when there are updates, and you just click "install", put in the super-user password, and get on with life. The reboots are not much different from a regular Linux reboot (kind of long anyway), because I believe LInux, much of it, works like DOS didd, you just edit a lot of plaintext files (just lookin your /etc folder - look at all that stuff you could hand tune and tweak yourself easily with a simple text editor), reboot, boom, you can have anything. The only downside is Linux Mint has this g****mn time machine thing that stores up multiple system states on your hard drive, and then when you run out of space, your machine is borked, and you have to wait for 12 hours while it deletes all those states from a recovery proimpt. And you have to know what you are doing when you configure it, or else this is what will happen. But that's about the only thing I can say bad about LInux and updates, that and the occasional convoluted process of upgrading versions, but guess what, unlike Windows or Apple, who will strongarm you to upgrade upgrade upgrade till the cows come home, Linux will just provide an option, some instructions, and won't be a judgy prick about upgrades, so there's another plus.So the clear winner to me in the update category is Linux. I'll take manually fed updates from a prompt in the system tray any day over waiting 3 hours to use my Mac while it updates like I'm changing a clutch or something, or dealing with that rotten Teenaged "wizard" in Windows that decided to get up one day at 3:00pm to apply 30 secutiry stack updates that decided not to show up until just now, and then force reboot me in the middle of something important without a prompt, or continue to nag me when my work overflows. Then I have to wait for several blue screens of spinning a**l beads for a progress bar to finish up while Windows finishes messing around. So yeah, Updates, I'm not going to quaver on this one, the trophy goes to the Penguin for sure.
one other big use of having a computer, is the fun of computer games. And while I live in "retro-land" most of the time, I do like a new title or two every once in awhile, I'm not a complete mennonite. The problem is, the worlds #1 gaming platform is Microsoft Windows, all thanks to Direct X (which is a problem all it's own). Howwever, it does seem some devs have decided to diversify their portfolios with Apple and sometimes, rarely, Linux ports. I myself have a steam account with FNaF 1-whatever on it, Thimbleweed Park, Retro City Rampage, Postal 2, Monster Truck Destruction, and The Witcher Deluxe Edition. I also have some older games that run on modern hardware like Robot Arena 2: Ddesign and Destroy, The Sims 2 and 3, and some slightly older stuff like The Sims 1 and Ultima IX Ascention. So let's see how we do.
Windows - I aready know for a fact Windows will be the clear winner in this category. Because EVERY SINGLE game I've listed has a Windows port, or actually, they ORIGINATED on Windows. This is the one spot where Windows truly shines for me, because everything works natively, and if nont, there are some pretty easily applied "hacks" and "mods" to get the games working on Windows 10, even old 4:3 based games like The Sims that are notorious for being hard to get running on anything not running WIndows 7 or older. Not really much to say otherwise, it's pretty much plug'n'play, and the games work as intended. Unlike Apple, Windows did not cut off support for 32-bit applications with the introduction to 64-bit, and even some 16-bit apps may work too in 64-bit.
Apple - Apple is when we start to have problems. First off, Apple dropped support of runningn 32-bit applications after Sierra IIRC. So a lot of old, non 64-bit Apple native ports won't run on Mac OSX without some kind of trickery, or an older Macintosh. This plays overall into the longevity factor in a big way. First off, all the steam games I have, only a handful work, because Five Nights at Freddy's blah blah blah does not have any Apple ports, except for iOS which is only on iPad, iPod, and iPhones. thimbleweed Park works as intended - apple port!, Postal 2 I've gotten working sometimes and not others. There's no Proton option - which is what makes Steam properties possible under Linux! Surprising it won't work in Mac OSX. Instead, they suggest installing the WINDOWS version using some special side-loaded program, and running them from othere. My experiences with this are similar to those with Lutris in Linux - passable at best, and impossible at worst. So you're quite a bit more limited on Macintosh with your software choices in games. That's why a lot of Apple people still own a PC if they are into gaming. Also, unlike PC, where if you need a better GPU or more RAM, it's not as easy to carry out those tasks on a macintosh system.
Linux - Now this is where gaming gets REALLY interesting, because it's theoretically possible to be able to run darn near EVERYTHING on a Linux system, and the theory can even be easily quite true on say...oh....RetroPie, which will emulate anything under the sun for you. First are the same options as Windows for old DOS games like ScummVM for thee SCUMM, AGI, and SCI graphical adventures, Exult for Ultima VII, Nuvie for Ultima VI, and DOSbox for everything else. For Win16, you could make a Virtual Machine for Windows 3.1x or Windows 9x and have 32-bit support for smaller, odler games on Linux - but WINE works perfectly with these releases as well. I play Sim City 2000 in Linux via Wine all the time. Then you have things like Lutris and Winetricks to help you build the proper Wine Prefix for your software as well. The problem is, all this is not all entirely doable by the average end user. For me to get my Lenovo T61 to do all this, I had to spend almost a year tuning, tweaking, updating, messing around, breaking stuff, fixing stuff, playhing with *.conf files, and generally, experimenting to get it all working. There's even some mention of Android and Apple being doable as well - which I know 16 and 32-bit is somewhat doable for Apple via Basilisk II but is TRICKY to setup. And that's the whole problem with LInux, is getting all of this crap working, requires some kind of serious dedication to the craft of tuning and tweaking things to work, and following precise instructions, and getting things just right. Like I said, in theory, eveything is possible in LInux, but the crux of the biscuit is that it's not easy, simple, beginner-possible stuff, a lot of it is actually really annoying and requires a lot of technical understanding and skill to pull off.So Windows is the clear winner here. See, that proves I'm not biased toward Linux or Apple, it just shows Windows has got gaming down, but a lot of their other stuff leaves much to be desired. Linux CAN be great, but cocnsider the guy who is pulling this off on this page....I am a 20 years and running senior I.T. guy who is a computer maniac. I'm used to command lines, editing plaintext configuration files, pipelining commands, reading technical whitepapers, and even writing my own. So to me, getting a bunch of computer games 2021> working on an OpenSource operating system based off Unix is not as stressful as say, someone like your Dad who thinks configuring a connection to an ancient Exchange Server is a "epic challenge".
One subject nobody talks about is the longevity of the hardware and software, and it's ability to make a smooth transition to "Vintage" status. Because most people are consumers - or "consumertards" as ToastyTech calls them. They use one computer for 3-5 years, toss it out, and get a new one. But scavengers like myself, we THRIVE off of cheap/free computers nobody wants anymore. See, I don't kill any computer before itt's time for it to go, and usually when it is, it's rather obvious. I've gotten as long as 15 years out of a machine, and I"ve got some DOS machines from the 80's and 90's that are still going strong nearing 30 years old. It is true, they don't make them like they used to. But the software also plays a factor into it, as some devices can just transfer easily from their original OSS over to something open source, like Linux, and have a long and happy life after mainstream support, while others are so locked down and closed you can't even get FreeDOS on the damn thing to play DOS games on it in silence!
Windows - Windows runs on IBM x86/x64 hardware. This means anything Core i-series, Core 2 series, Pentium D, Pentium 1-4, and i8088-80486. Since this is modern Windows we are talking about here, we will focus only on Core 2 and newer. However, the lifespan of a *modern* Windows system is finite, about 7-10 years long, with a rare extention by Microsoft if their user base is particularly stubborn to change - ie moving from Windows XP (13+ years supported). You might be able to eek out some more for another several years, but after a tapering of 2-3 years or so, you'll stop seeing new software for the version of Windows and thusly, it becomes "old" for a time, before the kids of that period get nostalgic for it 10-15-20 something odd years later, and start running it as a "vintage OS" to play the games they played as kids. The saving grace in all this is Linux, because Linux will typically continue to run on the hardware giving it a futher shelf life of up to 20 years from the date of manufacture, before it's too old to run a *current* linux distribution, at least in GUI mode, and now is considered "Trash" "old" or "Vintage".
Apple - Apple is a bit mormre stringent about the life limits on their hardware. The hardware itself is rock solid and reliable, sometimes even moreso than the PCs are. The problem with this is that Apple has a VERY finite lifespan on their devices. The original Apple Macintosh Machines could run up to System 7.x - so they used to have a longer lifecycle, but starting in the 2000's, planned obsolescence has been built in, so your 2005 iMac wont' run what your 2015 iMac will, so you can't pick up a 2005 imac and put OS X Sierra on it, losing Apple money in a whole new system. This is further made irritating by Apple in their hatred of "right to repair" and their whole idea of "you don't own the hardware, you "lease" it from us". As far as I'm concerned, anything in my house that does not have a "lease agreement" I had to sign that has pending payments, is mine outright! And thusly, my 2015 iMac is my computer, whether Apple likes it or not.
Linux - Again, Linux saves the day by not being a commercial O/S. So what do I do when Apple stops upgrading my iMac? What do I do when Windows 10 is officaily EOL and they come up with the next big atrocity since Windows Millennium Edition and Windows Vista? Simple, I put Linux on it, and run it till the hardware dies, or it too becomes vintage, of which then, due to loss of interest, I'll probably sell it on E-bay and make a nice return on my "investment". Linux does not give a rats patoot WHAT computer you put it on to, just as long as it's a digital device. I'm pretty sure an iPad could be made to run some form of Linux TBH. This is where all my comptuers go in that funky purgatory where it's too old to run a modern version of it's current native O/S, but too new to be considered "Vintage" or "retro", and not broken enough to justify jamming a RetroPie in it with an LCD hat module.
IBM Compatible/X86/X64 Hardware - This hardware tends to be of a little lower quality than the Apple hardware, especially more recent stuff. The best brands seem to be Dell and Lenovo, with HP being amonog the crappiest (plastic cases, poor cooling hardware, motherboard issues), ASUS tends to be more of a "builders grade" quality (similar to what they were as a Motherboard manufacturer). You can still roll your own systems out of cast-off parts though it's getting harder and harder to do that these days as the focus shifts to OEM built machines from standards like SFX, ATX, BTX, and so on. It seems that market has gotten smaller. For laptops, Lenovo and Dell have the top stuff, with me finding Lenovo to be a bit better than Dell in general, but Dell being a bit more availible because Lenovo starts to inch into that tier where Apple prices are.
Apple Hardware -