Come on then guys, one of the gratest wars of technology and IT - whats the best operating system and why?

Currently it would be windows 8 and the Max Os X operating systems.

They are the best because they are getting very popular and they work really well.

I dont really like windows 8, to be really honest it looks like a tacky upgrade of windows 7.

But I do agree with the mac Os X, but personally I prefer Linux Mint or windows 7

I dont really like windows 8, to be really honest it looks like a tacky upgrade of windows 7.

It is but if you haven't used windows before it would be a great experience, mostly with the touch screen features.

Oooh, openning a can of worms on this one!

By the number of people using it, it would have to be Windows (95% of all computers rings a bell, but don't quote me on that).

Personally I like Linux distros, namely Ubuntu.

It also depends on your use, general office and home users will find Windows perfect, graphic designers and video editors seem to prefer OS X whilst those who need something truly customisable such as researchers go for Linux.

So, by numbers Windows but personally Linux.

From what I've seen MAC is a pretty lousy operating system, my friend has one that crashes constantly. The more I use Windows 8 the better I like it. Windows 8 boots a lot faster than any previous version. Ubuntu boots even faster, but a lot more difficult to learn and use then Windows. The last time I heard *nix was the best os for servers (out performed Windows). So which is best depends on what you want to do with it.

Overall, I'd have to say Unix. It's the basis for virtually all the main operating systems used today. It's architecture has stood the test of time. Apple's operating systems were always somewhat based on Unix and have now (with OS X / iOS) crawled back home to the Unix family (POSIX-compliant). Even Microsoft has finally made modest moves in that direction (e.g., getting a bash-like shell with PowerShell, and adopting a more Unix-like user-privilege system), i.e., kind of retro-fitting some Unix-inspired elements. And, of course, GNU/Linux and BSDs are essentially (open-source) implementations of Unix, and now dominate every market (servers, clusters, embedded systems, phones, tablets, routers, DVRs, etc.) with the exception of laptop/desktop PCs.

I know that this is a bit of a cop-out, like answering "what is the best car" by saying "the internal combustion engine car" (which is includes virtually every car built in the last century), when clearly the question asks for the best car brand and/or model. But I like to say Unix, because it has the benefit of, for once, putting Microsoft alone in a corner with no friends, and once you frame it as Windows vs. Unix-family-and-friends, there's no competition.

I guess you should narrow down what you mean by "best operating system". If a discussion (or flame war) is to occur, you would probably need to narrow things down to "highest quality personal computer operating system", otherwise, being inclusive, there isn't much debate to have, except maybe between GNU/Linux and BSDs.

So, I can give my opinions on PC OSes now. I never understood the Mac craze, it seems everytime I meet a Mac-fanatic (not "fan", they don't exist, it seems, only fanatics), they always seem to want to tell me how great and easy to use the OS is, while they are fiddling with it to get it to do something. And as a regular Linux user, I haven't seen much in Mac OSes that hasn't been standard for years in many Linux distributions. As for Windows, well, since Microsoft openly admit that quality is not a priority for their products, should we even expect anything? I have virtually nothing positive to say about Windows, although I applause Microsoft for their very successful and savvy business tactics and foresight. Also, Windows has a captive audience, and because of that, saying it's good because it's popular is like saying Saddam Hussein was great because he always had majority support.

I much prefer Linux OSes. I mostly use Kubuntu, i.e., Ubuntu with a KDE desktop environment (I never really liked Gnome that much). I also like Fedora (KDE-spin). I mostly really like KDE, its slick Qt-based user interface, its unparalleled customizability, and good stability, and the KDE software suites are also pretty nice (Kate, Kile, KDevelop, Okular, etc.).

By the number of people using it, it would have to be Windows (95% of all computers rings a bell, but don't quote me on that).

For personal computers, it's more like 70% Windows, 25% Mac, 3-4% Linux, and then the rest is "other" (probably mostly BSD, or a few oddities like QNX). But I have seen numbers more along the lines of 90 / 6 / 2 / rest. Be wary also that Microsoft has been known to actively control the sources of these statistics (same as for TCO reports).

But that's for personal computers only. The world is a bigger place than that. Off the top of my head like that. Servers are largely dominated by Linux (Red Hat or SUSE) or Solaris, except for a significant chunk of the server market taken up by Windows server editions (they are mostly successful in small servers for office workstations), the Linux/BSD/Solaris domination is about 70% to 30% (Windows). Super-computers run almost exclusively (98% or so) on Linux or Linux-based custom OSes. Embedded devices have either no OS at all, or a micro-Linux distribution, but there are some exceptions. Smart phones and tablets are split by Android (Linux) and iOS (Unix-family). Then consumer electronics like TVs, DVRs, DVD players, TV-tuners, wireless dongles, SAT-navs, etc., etc., are almost always Linux-powered embedded devices. Higher-end embedded devices, such as car computers, fly-by-wire / auto-pilot computers, or industrial robot control computers, typically run a stricter hard-real-time OS like QNX (again, a Unix-like system). And of course, most network hardware (routers, access points, etc.) are also almost exclusively powered by Linux or some BSD variant. And when you consider all these types of devices (and PCs), the average household probably has more Linux-powered devices than all the rest combined. And clearly, as I said earlier, Unix is a dominant force everywhere.

I've never use a Mac so I can't speak to that. I've used both Linux (several flavours) and every version of Windows except Windows ME and Vista. My impression is that Windows is more appropriate for your average user and Linux is geared more toward the techie. Like Harley's and Hondas. If you want to own a Harley you'd better be prepared to tinker and get greasy.

I did a lot of reading into the inner workings of the Amiga when I owned one (Amiga 1000). I wish it had become more mainstream. I'd like to see what it would have become by now. The features built into it (I'm speaking OS, not hardware) were amazing especially for the size. Very little duplication of code.

there is no "best" operating system, at most there might be one that's best suited to specific requirements.

commented: as about always :) +0
commented: Of course. +0

I suppose I agree with jwentig and Ancient Dragon, as it is very true it is personal preference to what OS sometimes depending on what you want to do with it, so maybe I need to re-word that...

What's the favorite OS among the daniweb people? aha

mike_2000_17 also needs an award for essay writing haha

Member Avatar

LastMitch

I like Window 7. It's not the best but I like it.

For your typical every day user, Windows is by and large the best when it comes to ease of use and available software. That is who the desktop OS is tailored to. General Desktop and Business.

Linux shot itself in the foot by trying to make everything open source and free a philosophy they try to extend to people developing for their OS. This is a pipe-dream. The world runs on money and that isn't going to change (even if currency in a decade is in potatoes, there will always be "money").
Its second failing was giving too much control to the user, even if they didn't want it. Thankfully, SUSe and Ubuntu made headway here, giving you a much more user-friendly desktop-like approach. Unfortunately their reach to the user market (pre-installed variants) is far too shallow and only really made it as far as netbooks which, thankfully, died a swift death.
The third failing is a consequence of the second. Developers want maximum exposure for their software so they can make more money from it. So what do you pick? Windows and Apple Mac of course. Linux variants may surface, but generally later. Another good point here is Steam pushing Linux support. I truly hope this works out.

Unix and variants are far better at anything server related than Mirosoft can throw up. Microsoft are chasing, but are always 5-10 steps behind.

The future? A lot is being pushed onto the Web. We now have Game engines that can support browser based games on your graphics card (no need for a downloadable app) and Google Docs as a business suite...As this becomes more and more mainstream, the need to support specific Operating Systems becomes less and less. I envisage that in the next 20 or so years the operating system will become a thin-client terminal to operate Web based applications. I suspect at that point, Linux and the Open Source alternatives will finally come into play by the majority as vendors try and keep their costs down. I'm sure MS and Apple will have a trick or two up their sleeves to try and maintain their market share, but change will come, eventually. It will be interesting to see how they react :)

one of the main reasons Windows 8 is getting "very popular", is because a lot of computers and laptops alike are sold with it pre-installed. that doesn't really make it a good OS.
sure, it has a benefit of being able to work with a lot of software that isn't compatible with other software, then again, the memory usage of "the Beast we call Windows" may not be underestimated either.

Linux shot itself in the foot by trying to make everything open source and free a philosophy they try to extend to people developing for their OS. This is a pipe-dream. The world runs on money and that isn't going to change (even if currency in a decade is in potatoes, there will always be "money").

It's true that the "world runs on money", but it's not true that open-source software does not. In many cases, open-source software is software developed by stake-holders (people who need and use the software) either directly or by funding people to do it. For example, the "code-aster" project is a complete suite of finite-element analysis software, which is a kind of advanced engineering software, the kind that is used to analyse the internal stress in structures or aerodynamic flows. In this field, companies typically have to pay in the order of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single license of such a kind of software, and often it is hard to find one that has the features you need in your company. So, a few research institutes and large companies got together and funded an open-source project "code-aster" to build a complete suite so that they could all use it and extend it with what they need. At the end of the day, instead of paying the license fee for some expensive commercial software, they pay the development cost directly, and then get a software that is much better for them. Open-source software often functions that way, i.e., the development costs come directly and collectively from the people interested in having a good quality product that works for them, so, it still "runs on money". This is how most Linux distributions are funded, the main problem is when the stake-holders are a large population of home-users, but when it is a few big companies that understand the financial benefits of this model, it's quite easy to get them on-board.

I guess my point is that things are a bit more complex than "you can't make stuff for free, because the world runs on money". Often making stuff for free and more importantly, openly, is more profitable (money!) than closed-source development. Companies can share their expenses, can profit from community contributions, can cut the middle man (and pay development costs directly), and can tailor the software to their needs without being dependent on a separate company to do so. These things mean more profits!

I understand what you're saying but that's not the point.

The same philosophy can extend to Windows, there's no reason why you can't make all your software Open Source. The difference is that you're talking about a tightly focused application that will be used by engineers for their own gain in an Enterprise situation. Effectively they've paid for the software using wages. So yes, Open Source isn't "free". But you're looking at the wrong target audience.

Joe Bloggs wants an application that monitors his diet and reads RSS feeds to let him know about upcoming sports events in his area. Whilst we (as software engineers) could quite happily write our own version, Joe has no technical ability. He can download the Open Source version that Some Guy wrote, install the compiler, check the settings and build it, or, he can buy the Windows version for £9.99 and it does what he wants, near enough.

So, look at it more from a consumer aspect to understand what I'm saying. They aren't interested in the fact that they can go in a meddle with the code to make it better for them. They won't understand any of it. They just want to "clickety click" and go.

Linux is too complicated and whilst we techies might like that, the average computer user can barely figure out that the internet isn't a program on their computer (Okay that's very sweeping generalisation but I'm sure you get my point).

I'd like to also make the point that I'm not against Open Source nor am I against Linux. But as Software Engineering is my primary profession, I still need a way to earn money. Releasing everything for free is not a good way to keep myself fed and clothed ;)
I use Windows because that's where most of my programs are, I'm a gamer after all. Once Steam works out the kinks in Steam for Linux and devs start compiling binaries for Linux, I will most likely switch. (Yes I know about WINE but it's not 100% by any stretch)

Linux shot itself in the foot by declaring being "anti-Microsoft" to be a religious dictat, and deliberately doing everything different from the way it's done in Windows for no other reason than to do things differently from Windows.
They also shot themselves in the foot (in part because of that) by not standardising on a lot of things, from mouse and keyboard handling to copy-paste features to look and feel, effectively causing every single application to be incapable of communicating with every other application at a level that's required for end users, and presenting an utter mess of different user experiences between them as well.
And let's not even get started on the configuration nightmares. When I was running a Linux desktop I spent at least 2-3 hours digging through configuration files for every hour of productive work I got done.
The operating system should sit quietly in the background most of the time, not require the user to fiddle with it constantly to even start his applications...

Learn your computing history. Linux doesn't do things the way it does to deliberately be different from Windows. Linux was developed by Linus Torvalds because he wanted a Unix system but couldn't afford the exhorbitant licencing fees. He developed Linux to be like Unix, which was around a very long time before Windows or even PCs. Unix was first released in 1969. Windows 3.0 was released in 1990. The Linux kernel was first released in 1991.

As for the configuration nightmares and having the OS sit in the background - I absolutely agree with you on that. I've been programming proofessionally for almost 40 years. I've tried to make the move to Linux several times and each time I just found the maintenance and configuration too time consuming.

What's the favorite OS among the daniweb people? aha

That's a much better question than "which is the best?". My favorite would be Windows 7, but similarity with Windows 7 and obvious improvements make Windows 8 a strong contender. I just have more experience with Windows 7 presently, so it's easier to say that one is my favorite from a knowledgeable position.

Learn your computing history. Linux doesn't do things the way it does to deliberately be different from Windows. Linux was developed by Linus Torvalds because he wanted a Unix system but couldn't afford the exhorbitant licencing fees. He developed Linux to be like Unix, which was around a very long time before Windows or even PCs. Unix was first released in 1969. Windows 3.0 was released in 1990. The Linux kernel was first released in 1991.

It's somewhat amusing that you tell someone to learn their computing history, then immediately proceed to ignore all but the earliest history of Linux to make your point. ;)

obvious improvements make Windows 8 a strong contender

The only "improvements" I've seen is boot-time speed, it boots considerably faster probably because the kernel is smaller. Otherwise there is no reason to downgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

I admit I ignored a lot of the Linux development. But I did that in order to make the point that Linux was not developed to be different from Windows but to be similar to Unix. And Unix was developed long before Windows. But it's good to have people around who will keep me honest ;-P

He can download the Open Source version that Some Guy wrote, install the compiler, check the settings and build it, or, he can buy the Windows version for £9.99 and it does what he wants, near enough.

Most of open-source Linux software can be downloaded and installed from the repositories in a single click (or a single command on terminal). In my experience, it is far easier to install most open-source software in Linux than in any other OS. Even free software in Windows is annyoing to install (download the installer, run it, click "next" about a doxen times, wait for an incredibly long period of time, and then, possibly restart), and I'm not even talking about the stuff you need to buy at a store or pay-download-validate online. Where do you think the idea of having "app stores" came from? It's a direct copy of the software distribution model that has been used in Linux for ages.

Linux is too complicated and whilst we techies might like that, the average computer user can barely figure out that the internet isn't a program on their computer (Okay that's very sweeping generalisation but I'm sure you get my point).

There's been a lot of progress in that department. If you use a main-stream distro like Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Android or Google Chrome OS, there's not much that is "too complicated" about it, although if it isn't pre-installed, it does require a bit of tech-savvy or you have to know someone who is, and people who aren't tech-savvy enough to install Linux are probably not savvy enough to do anything with a computer, like my parents who need to ask me to do pretty much anything beyond checking their emails or surfing the web.

Linux shot itself in the foot by declaring being "anti-Microsoft" to be a religious dictat, and deliberately doing everything different from the way it's done in Windows for no other reason than to do things differently from Windows.

That is factually, completely wrong. Linux pre-dates any meaningful version of Windows. And considering that, as I've said before, virtually all operating systems are based on or highly inspired by Unix traditions (in terms of the API (POSIX), the folder structure, file systems, the X window system, Bash commands, the "everything is a file" principle, the user-privilege system, the binary interfaces, the ELF format, etc...), and also considering that most of the Linux operating system (besides the "kernel") is actually the "GNU toolset" which is an open-source clone of the original Unix command-line tools plus a number of additions most of which was written in the 70s and 80s by Richard Stallman and the other people in MIT and in other early computer labs, your description of "just doing things different from Windows" is just plain wrong. Unix established the tradition very early on, then its API and much of its design was standardized under the POSIX standard, which was then commonly accepted as "the" standard for all operating systems and that all operating systems after that would pretty much need to implement POSIX in order to have any kind of traction. Microsoft then came in a threw a monkey wrench in that well-oiled engine by doing their operating system in a completely different way (and widely considered to be a vastly inferior architecture) as part of their business plan which was to move aggressively into the burgeoning PC market with a more user-friendly OS that would then lock everybody into using it without compatibility with any other OS. So, in fact, reality is literally completely opposite to what you said.

By the way, as soon as Steve Jobs came back to Apple, one of his first moves was to make the next Mac OS version a POSIX-compliant system (i.e., a Unix variant). Microsoft would never do that because their whole market strategy is based on the fact that their operating system isn't compatible with anything else (which is a big advantage as long as you have an overwhelming dominance on the market), that's a technique called "vendor lock-in".

They also shot themselves in the foot (in part because of that) by not standardising on a lot of things, from mouse and keyboard handling to copy-paste features to look and feel, effectively causing every single application to be incapable of communicating with every other application at a level that's required for end users, and presenting an utter mess of different user experiences between them as well.

There is definitely some work to be done there. But it's progressing. Right now, there aren't too many desktop environments, the main "full-fledged" ones are Gnome and KDE. KDE, in particular, is extremely well integrated, I can pretty much copy-paste or drag-drop anything to anywhere, and it works very smoothly, and far surpasses what I've seen anywhere else. I think the Gnome people have a lot more work to do to get up to speed on that.

And if you find that these things work flawlessly in Windows or Mac, you are delusional. Beyond the few out-of-the-box applications and the Microsoft- / Apple-produced applications, things like inter-application integration don't work smoothly at all.

And let's not even get started on the configuration nightmares. When I was running a Linux desktop I spent at least 2-3 hours digging through configuration files for every hour of productive work I got done.

To me, that's the most annoying thing about Linux, it's that it is not quite at the point where 100% of the hardware works out of the box without additional tweaking in the less-accessible configurations (the /etc stuff). If I install a new Linux box, I typically have to spend a few hours getting everything to work properly, and I sometimes a couple of hours after each complete distribution upgrade (every 6 months or so). It is annoying, especially since I usually forget how to do the most of the tweaks needed because there is such a long time between each tweaking sessions (6 months to a year), but overall, I can't complain that much about it. But this does put people off, especially, when they spend their "first day with Linux" just fiddling with the system (and I would add that the only reason why they don't have to do that with Windows or Mac is because they come pre-installed on their computers, every time I had to install Windows on a computer, I typically had much more trouble and time wasted than what I usually have with Linux installs).

One of the things that put me off Linux was the large amount on information that is assumed to be common knowledge. If I asked a question I only ever got 50% of what I needed for the solution - even something as simple as enabling a wireless connection to my router. I finally found out after several weeks that I had to install a package that everyone jst assumed I already had even though it wasn't installed when I set up Linux and wasn't offered as an option.

download the installer, run it, click "next" about a dozen times, wait for an incredibly long period of time, and then, possibly restart)

And then uninstall Bing or Ask ToolBar or whatever other crapware gets installed along with it.

which is exactly the same BS people spewed about the move from Windows 3.x to Windows 95, NT4 to Win2K, Vista to W7, ad nauseum.
And then a few months later complain when the new game they want doesn't run on their now outdated operating system.

Using that logic, you'd still be using CPM 1.0 (if not something even more ancient) because everything that came after can only have been worse.

there is no "best" operating system, at most there might be one that's best suited to specific requirements.

I agree with Jwenting. All Operating systems are good, it totally depends on your requirement and your comfort zone which suits you. So, since I mostly work with Windows 7 OS, so it is my preferred choice.

...downgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

Haha, that's very nicely put! :D

Me? I love Linux. Only one of the computers in my household runs Windows, and that's because it's the one that everyone has to be able to use, and let's face it - Linux isn't for the non-tech-savvy (one exception maybe being Ubuntu). All the other computers run Arch Linux.

Personally, I really dislike Ubuntu. It comes across to me as the distro for people who want to be elitist or stand out from the crowd and brag about using Linux, when deep down, they still love Windows. It's the sort of OS where (much like Windows) you don't really need to know what you're doing, and that takes the fun out of using Linux a little bit. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that people who use Ubuntu are trying to be different, that's just who the distro appears to be aimed at to me. Plus, there are some situations which do call for a linux distro that everyone can use; for example at my brother's work, they use Ubuntu for security reasons, but not all of the people there are the type of people who can use Linux with ease.

Anyway, from my perspective, Arch Linux is the best. Once installed, you have just a terminal, development tools, a package manager and core utilities installed. This is perfect for me because I like a small distro that you build-up and personalise. You can run it headless, you can install X and so on, so it ends up how you want it. If I had installed Raspbian on my Raspberry Pi, I would have ended up uninstalling X and all of the graphical programs because I run it headless as a server, and especially because I'm not on the fastest internet connection, it would have been a waste of time downloading software which I just got rid of anyway, so Arch is perfect... for me at least.

not quite at the point where 100% of the hardware works out of the box without additional tweaking

You have to ask yourself; is Linux meant to support 100% of hardware? That's one thing that irritates me about Windows. On a server, I may use a keyboard, a mouse and a monitor. So all my OS has to support is mice, keyboards, displays and the other hardware inside the machine. Linux is fine for that, you start off with minimal drivers. If I put Windows on it, I'd have drivers for XYZ's real-world interface with bluetooth and external coffee maker interface. Okay, that's a bit of a hyperbole, but do you know what I mean? Linux comes with the basics... plus a little bit more. Windows comes with a lot of software which you will never actually use, so it's just wasteful. But if you're talking about the fact that some drivers are proprietary and thus without massive (illegal? not sure) reverse engineering, it's impossible for this hardware to work at its best on Linux, then that's a whole other argument :)

commented: ok +0

One of the things that put me off Linux was the large amount on information that is assumed to be common knowledge. If I asked a question I only ever got 50% of what I needed for the solution

you got lucky. 90% of questions are answered with a rude "read the f*ing manpage, idiot", including questions on how to use man to read manpages.
Of course half those manpages either don't exist or are years out of date because nobody bothered to keep them up to date, documentation not being "fun".

I love Windows 7!

And as far as Linux go I would go with Linux Mint Hands Down.

The Google Chromebook has Ubuntu under the hood. It boots up very fast. Access to the Ubuntu layer seems to be discouraged by Google. After all, they mouth off about being "Virus Save".

After all, they mouth off about being "Virus Save".

Nothing is virus safe...