Darwin's Theories Blog

New Theories for a New Time

Choosing an Operating System

User wants anything but Windows 10
A neighbour asked:
Looking for help with my computer that has been *hijacked* by its Windows 10 operating system. Is there anyone out there who has advice regarding an alternative OS? Perhaps a LINUX version, or ????, or uninstall Win10 and go with Win7? I really HATE Win10! 
There are plenty of choices out there, none of them "right" for all. If you were happy with Windows 7, reinstall it! But do understand that's only a short-term solution as Microsoft will stop issuing security updates, if they haven't already.

Things to consider in weighing the many alternative OSes:

What do you need to use this computer for?

If it's just email and the occasional document or spreadsheet, consider replacing it with a less-expensive Chromebook, running Google ChromeOS. I like the Asus ChromeBook Flip since it can be used as a laptop, a tablet, and can flip around to have use the keyboard as a stand.

If there are certain specialized apps that are needed, what computer and what OS do I need? For example, Microsoft Outlook will of course only run on Windows, but "generic" email apps like Thunderbird run on just about every desktop OS.

Security - if the will be connected to the internet (!), security is a *prime* concern, both for you and for everybody else who uses the internet (the "Distributed Denial of Service" attack that that took down much of the internet in mid-October 2016 was not caused by security problems on the main servers like PayPal that were affected, but by complete lack of security on billions of low-cost devices like standalone security cameras, baby monitors, etc, that the hackers subverted and recruited in cosmic quantities).

You might look into each of these (all free to download):

Linux - a widely-used Unix-like system. The system itself is free to use, and there are many distributions, most free, some with paid support.  Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora/RedHat (RedHat is a supported version of Fedora) are among the most popular and/or user-friendly distributions. Arch is a stripped-down geek-friendly version. Any major Linux distribution will have lots of support available in forums and via web searches. Linux offers several "desktop" packages, which affect how the system looks and feels. I haven't been using it for some years so I don't know which is better today, but Gnome and KDE have long been the two leading ones.

OpenBSD, a secure Unix-like system. Better than Linux from a security perspective, though not all 3rd party apps run on it (Disclosure: I am a member of the OpenBSD team).

QubesOS - Aims to boost security by partitioning your PC into multiple "guest" OSes (each of which can run common 3rd-party apps and can also run Windows in one of its partitions). Might not be ready for prime time yet.

ReactOS - intended to be binary-compatible with older versions of MS-Windows. Might not be ready for prime time yet.

Also, bear in mind that there are alternatives for much commercial software, e.g., if it works for you, use LibreOffice instead of paying for Microsoft Office.

So that's some ideas for you to look over. Sorry I can't tell you the "one best" one.


Disclaimer: I do not receive any financial compensation for recommending any of the above products. I do offer consulting services in the ones that I use.