Is Linux Better Than Windows and Mac?

I honestly like them all, and I use them all on a daily basis.

Windows 8 vs Mac OS X vs Ubuntu Linux vs Chrome OS

Windows 7 and RHEL at work; Windows 8 on my desktop gaming and media production machine at home; Ubuntu and OS X on my Macbook air; Debian my small home server; and a Chromebook to play around and casual web surfing.

I like Windows 8 mostly because of the compatibility, and it makes the most sense to put on a desktop for things that require high-end hardware, like video games and photo editing software.

The Metro interface doesn’t bother me.

I mostly stay in the desktop, but I find that the ‘just type’ feature of the start screen is convenient for quickly opening apps – just hit the Win key, type a few letters, and go.

Not too much different from things like the Unity Dash and Quicksilver.

I like Mac OS X mostly because I’m a long time Mac user and am somewhat partial to Apple’s UI and hardware design.

Mac OS X is also the best runner up for third-party software.

It’s less useful at the command line as Linux is and I’ve found it doesn’t make a great server OS beyond the simple things you can switch on. It works well as a general OS though.

I like Ubuntu and other Linux distros for various reasons. They are free, both as in beer and freedom (Open Source).

If you are a power user or developer Linux is excellent as you can customize Linux to your heart’s desire, provided you know how and put the time in.

I even like some of the default interfaces link Unity, although not everyone does.

Linux could still use some polish for the average person.

Some UI elements could be improved and if a Linux system breaks it’s not easy to quickly recover for the average user.

It’s not for everyone, but for those who are power users and appreciate the openness of Linux it has endless possibilities.

It can run anywhere and having Linux skills are valuable. Linux is also a great server OS.

For servers it’s cheap, reliable, and easy to remotely manage.

Now, Chrome OS and Chromium OS. Well, it’s limited, but what it does it does well.

They’re great for living on the internet, but has some obvious limitations for any localized work.

It is growing more capable over time though, as now there is the Chrome Native Client (NaCl) which allows more native code to run.

Power users can also enable developer mode and get access to a real terminal and install change root (chroot) to make it easier to install Linux applications.

If you have a Mac device you can have a great opportunity to try them all out to see which you prefer.


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  • James Katt

    The great thing about Mac OS X is that I can run other operating systems in a virtual environment using Parallels. For example, I use Windows every day in my Mac. For those tinkerers, you can also use Linux and Chrome in Mac OS X.

    The Mac simply gives me much more flexibility to run software and operating systems than any other system/operating system combination.

    • ricegf

      Well, actually, that’s a feature of pretty much every OS – we run Windows in VMware on top of both SUSE Linux and Windows at work, and I run SUSE Linux, Win 7, and Haiku in Virtualbox on my Ubuntu machine on my primary machine at home. We also dual-boot Ubuntu and Win 7 on our family machine, though it spends most of its time in Ubuntu.

      Nothing against OS X, but it’s not unique in its ability to run virtual machines. Glad you found an operating system you like, though!

      • JoblessGuy2

        But you can’t run OS X on any other platform now, can you (legally, that is)?

        • ricegf

          Um, that’s not a “feature” of OS X, now is it? :-D

          • JoblessGuy2

            But an advantage an OS X user has, nonetheless.

          • ricegf

            I consider it a disadvantage.

            Consider: Windows RT users have an advantage over OS X users, because RT runs on the Surface and OS X does not. Agree?

            I don’t. I believe the most advantageous OS is the one I can use on any hardware I choose, for any purpose I choose. Since both OS X and RT are crippled with rather severe use restrictions, I consider users of those systems as at a notable disadvantage to mainstream users.

            Even so, use of OS X on non-Apple hardware is so prevalent that it has its own name: Hackintosh. But since OS X does nothing I need to do that I can’t do on unrestricted operating systems, and Apple clearly states they don’t want me to use it on systems I prefer, I don’t.

            But as with James Katt, I am glad you have found an operating system that you like.

          • JoblessGuy2

            How does the range of hardware (not quality, but range only) affect your OS choice? In any case, unless you want a hybrid, which OS X or iOS aren’t built for, it’s almost universally agreed that Macs fit most needs.

            I don’t think you really got my point. I meant that an OS X user can also use Windows 8 and Ubuntu, completing the trifecta of mainstream OSes. No other platform can do that, legally and with optimal performance. IF you are considering which OS to use, that has to be an advantage for OS X. RT is a different beast altogether.

          • ricegf

            No, I understand your point – it’s technically correct, but no more so than “If you want to run OS X legally, you must buy Apple hardware”. My disagreement is with your and the OP’s claim that this is an advantage, when it’s actually a disadvantage. Rabbit trails such as VMs and of Macs fitting most needs (just like Windows and Linux) seem intended to disguise the fact that it’s *OS X* that limited, not Windows or Linux.

            Now, if you want to accept that limitation to run OS X, I’m perfectly fine with that – it’s your choice. But let’s not pretend that Windows or Linux are somehow less capable just because Apple’s EULA is so limiting!

            Certainly range of hardware is much more a feature of non-Apple OSes – and particularly Linux, since Linux runs on everything from embedded devices like robots and routers to TVs, phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, servers, mainframes, and supercomputers. However, this article is limited in scope to laptops and desktops, so that’s the only area I have addressed. Not really sure why you brought it up.

            Bottom line: If you want to run OS X legally, you have to pay more for Apple hardware. We can certainly agree on that!

      • Aaron

        I applaud you ricegf. He’s happy for another person finding what they like. I’ve never owned Apple products, but I’ve gotten pretty dang tired of all of the OS X bashers. Just like what you like; don’t drag other people into it :) Awesome

    • morgan cox

      You do realise you can get virtualbox for linux and windows.

      And the fact most visualization software – i.e VMware, XEN , etc are all based on the Linux kernel.

      Most linux distro’s come pre-installed with KVM which for hosting purposes probably has the best performance and is more flexibile than any other visualization out there – not only that it is completely free with no license restrictions (unlike parallels)

  • Stan Monique

    I have tried them all. I’m sort of geeky, but I guess not geeky enough to want to be wedded to Linux. I went through every version of Windows but Vista. The best version, in my view, and also in the view of Leo Laporte, well-known technical podcaster, was Windows 7. As with Leo, I gave Windows 8 a chance, four times longer than Leo’s one month. As with Leo, I really find Windows 8 a real drag. You said in your article, “I mostly stay in the desktop,..” What is the purpose of having “fancy” over-sized icons if one spends most of the time in the desktop, as I did, too. I had Win 8 installed over VMWare on an MBA 13″. I also have an Azus Ultrabook with Win 8 installed. Although I have an 500 GB SDD in my MBA, I felt that Win 8 was bloatware having both systems installed in one, so I deleted it, and use Win 7 on the MacbookAir. Perhaps Win 8 would be okay on a touch screen. I do not know yet, but I would not recommend it for a not tactile screen computer. The Mac OSX continues to be my favorite operating system. I feel the same bout Apples iPhone, iPad iOS–far superior, in my view, to Android. I use them both daily.

    • Matthias Moore

      Apple fans are seemingly as simple as the osx itself. Lol any true tech would rather piss on an apple than use it

      • John Moran

        Any true tech can appreciate a computer as a computer. Each OS has its pro’s and con’s. After working on Windows machines for years I generally prefer to use the unix operating systems like linux and osx; they are clean, simple and very powerful, in reference to console/terminal functions. If you try osx for a while you might like it, but seriously don’t pull that “any true power user” crap, because “any true tech” appreciates all OS’s for their pros and cons and keep in mind that until you use an OS extensively (years, not days) you cannot formulate an effective or valid opinion about it properly.

  • Nicholas Duff

    Am I the only one who noticed Chrome Native Client (NaCl) = Salt?

  • Tran Mere

    For me the best choice has always been Linux, but not Ubuntu. I appreciate free software, stable and secure system, easy to install, easy to use. That’s why my favorite is Linux Mint.

  • Mark H. Harris

    This article is asinine.

    Most people (including the ones commenting here) don’t have a clue regarding the difference between a graphical user interface and an operating system.

    Operating System: Mac OSX, Gnu/Llinux, and Chrome… are unix-like operating systems… that is, they are a version of the operating system design called Unix. In this they are all very much alike and together more unlike Windows. The operating system controls the computers resources (all the crap the user does not SEE).

    Graphical User Interface: What the user sees… um, the desktop. Most people that are comparing operating systems on-line have no clue what an operating system is, nor do they understand what it does… they usually are comparing the computer’s GUI. In that regard, Windows 8 was a gift to the free software community (and the world at large). Their latest GUI is atrocious. Of course the dumb operating system behind the scene is the same old crap requiring third party protection and update after update after update… their first major update is to bring back the START button… boring.

    As operating systems Gnu/Linux (Chrome just borrowed … ) and Mac are very similar… stable, solid, fast, protected and reliable. (Mac derives from freeBSD, a very popular unix-like derivative)

    The Mac interface is silly, and the way apps install and run is just as cumbersome (quite unlike unix-like… ) The unix-like OS under the covers is rock-solid however…

    Gnu/Linux is the most flexible and most versatile of the interfaces. I am writing this from a Lenovo T61 ThinkPad running Mint Cinnamon. Mint is an ubuntu / debian derivative (solid and secure, yet fast and reliable)

    Both Mac and Gnu/Linux do well with virtual hosting… but the problem with the Mac is the proprietary hardware… both hard to maintain and very expensive to obtain.

    For price, freedom, reliability, speed, cost performance, flexibility and security Gnu/Linux has them all beat hands down; period.


  • tri18nu

    The problem with Linux is, no one out side Linux world knows what Linux truly is.

    Therefore every article written by a mac or windows users that looks at Linux just sees two things “free of cost and geek”. You have to live on Linux for at least a year or two, learn all the perks of Linux, only then you get somewhere, or be able to do a technical review of Linux. Same goes with Windows users criticizing Mac or vice versa.

    “One does not simply walk into Linux… Not with ten thousand Mac and Windows users could you do this. It is folly”.

  • Guest

    The problem with Linux is, no one outside Linux world truly knows what Linux is.

    Every windows or mac users who write about Linux only sees two things “free of cost and geek”.

    You have to use it as your primary computer, for at least a year or two, then only you will get somewhere, or be able to do a technical review. Same goes for windows or mac users criticizing each other.

    One does not simply walk into Linux .. Not with ten thousand mac and windows users could you do this. It is folly.

    • Ernst

      I should rather use decent, secure, fast and free Linux alone than being member of 1 000 million fooled Windows users or a member of an expensive Apple Cult.

  • Chips_B_Malroy

    I wonder if Chomebooks will take the same fast rise as Android did on both smartphones and tablets? Or is Android laptops coming soon to do that as well? One thing is for certain, Ballmer in his infinite wisdom decided to force a tablet UI on desktop users and some users sought out better alternatives. Chromebooks and Macs both share an almost total lack of malware and problems that Windows users can only dream about. With Chromebooks you get excellant quality at a price that will allow you to buy 6 chromebooks for the price of one entry Mac OS X laptop. You don’t have to believe me, just look on Amazon or Newegg and read the reviews from confirmed buyers, and then compare those to buyers that bought W8 software.

  • Ernst

    Think about Raspberry PI and using Linux, Windows or OS X on it. Only only is good enough for it and you should all know that?