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General Category => General Discussion => Topic started by: Naneen on Jul 30, 2016, 04:22 am

Title: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: Naneen on Jul 30, 2016, 04:22 am
Which operating system do you use and why? I'm thinking of maybe changing to Linux but don't know that much about the language. So what are the pros and cons of different operating systems not just Linux. Is Apple better? Although I have never been an Apple fan with their Idea of using just their stuff. I want to keep my mind open. I have always been a windows user.

Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: Robin2 on Jul 30, 2016, 09:26 am
I have been using Linux for years - originally because I could not justify the price of upgrading from Windows XP.

Unfortunately Linux is easy to clone and there are dozens of different varieties. For the most part the differences are just in the screen appearance and the bundle of programs that are included.

I think Ubuntu provides the best overall support. You can try it from a DVD or USB stick without disturbing your Windows PC.

I am now using the TahrPup (http://puppylinux.org/main/Download%20Latest%20Release.htm) version of Puppy Linux (http://puppylinux.org/main/Overview%20and%20Getting%20Started.htm) which is a minimal version of Ubuntu 14.04. You can run it completely from a USB stick for testing or permanently. All the regular Ubuntu software that I have tried works perfectly with it. It does not require huge hardware resources so works perfectly well on older PCs as well as new ones. It may require a little more user knowledge than Ubuntu but the Puppy Linux download is about 200MB compared with 10 times that for Ubuntu. Less is more!

...R
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: ChrisTenone on Jul 30, 2016, 10:48 am
I don't currently know Linux at all, so I don't use it. When I read "You can run it completely from a USB stick for testing or permanently." I decided that I need to learn it.

Currently I run about 120 Windows 10 computers (cad/gis quality) in academic labs, and half a dozen Macintoshes (various operating systems ranging from System6 to OS X El Capitan.) My own computers - the ones I use most often with my Arduino stuff - are Macs running osx 10.11.6. In my office, I have last year's Lenovo mini with Win 10.
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: curious48 on Jul 30, 2016, 11:39 am
I agree with everything Robin2 said down to Ubuntu as being the "best overall support" under Linux.  You should give it a try!  If your PC has a DVD drive you can try a Live DVD and see that everything works.  I think part of the reason it's so "bloated' as compared with the slimmer distributions he mentions is that it includes a lot of hardware drivers and the like and also a ton of software (like libreoffice).  All of your peripherals like webcam, sound card, wifi adapters, everything should "just work."  Among the Linuxes, in terms of ease of use Ubuntu is the easiest.

He mentioned that you can run it from a USB flash drive.  Here are the Instructions on the Ubuntu site (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/try-ubuntu-before-you-install), but, it might require entering your computer's "BIOS" configuration which you can enter from among some of the messages you first see when starting your computer ("Press F12 to...." -- well, you might have to press F12).  Then you would find the boot options and allow it to boot from a USB drive.  It might not "just boot" from the USB drive, even if you've set up the USB drive correctly.

If your PC has a DVD drive, to be perfectly honest the quickest, easiest, and most fail-safe way to try out Linux would be to order a LiveDVD (https://www.amazon.com/Ubuntu-Linux-Desktop-Replace-Windows/dp/B00IM3XWYS) which someone has burned.  You can then just put it in the DVD drive and when you start your computer, pay attention to the option to start from it and select it.  (Or it should do so automatically.)

This is what an Ubuntu desktop might look like around when it starts up:



As you can see, you would immediately know how to use it.  There is a Firefox browser, you could open it and search for anything you needed to know.  There are programs for handling office files (libreoffice) and everything is extremely intuitive .  And as the first link to the LiveDVD explains, when you're  ready to install it you can just double-click and have it install onto your computer.

However, if you already have a Windows installation and want to keep it, you will want to search for instructions such as this one (https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-dual-boot-Ubuntu-14-04-with-Windows-8-1) on "dual booting" Windows and Ubuntu.  The advantage of using the "Best-supported" Linux is that you can simply Google, e.g. "windows 10 ubuntu dual boot" and get extremely detailed instructions - and not just one or two.  Here are some things you might want to do after installing Ubuntu. (http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2016/04/10-things-to-do-after-installing-ubuntu-16-04-lts) - install applications like Spotify and other things that aren't in the central repository (which you can think of like an 'app store.')   Anything you want you can find and install easily!

Now, one thing to note is that you're now a Linux user!  (This could be obvious, but when we spend so much time in web applications it's easy to forget...)  You can't just install any old thing.  If you had used Photoshop, well, now you need to use a Linux version.  (Gimp).  If you used Microsoft Word or Excel - well, now you need to use a Linux version of these tools.  Linux is a great operating system but you will now be a Linux user  :D


2.  You asked what we all use?

So, I use Windows 7 on an old Thinkpad laptop.  The reason I do this is because I use a lot of very standard office documents and workflows, such as Word 2010 and Excel, PowerPoint.  I have drivers for everything and I'm very familiar with using it.  Finding directions for anything I want to do doesn't take any amount of time at all.  If I had more money, I would use a Mac.  Because all of the above are also true of Macs - in fact, they're even more standard and easier to use, and very well-supported.  I also at times do things like script parts of my workflow with hotkey scripts that have huge followers.  The surest way that you can guarantee to just get an intsallation file (.exe) for whatever you're doing with no real steps in between is by being on Windows, which is used by the most people in the world who are using a Desktop PC or Laptop.  At the moment for example I am designing a piece for 3D printing.  (It's actually part of an Arduino project.)  I needed a new CAD design tool.  I've never used one in my life.  The first recommendation I got that meets my needs is Freecad, and it's available on Linux, Mac, and Windows.  But I didn't like it.  Then I saw this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXgMY3-hlgs) - which is provocatively titled "The Best Free CAD Program - DesignSpark Mechanical" (which is why I clicked it) and has 129k views, 1146 upvotes, noise floor downvotes.  It starts saying :

Quote
Hey everyone, today I wanted to showcase one of THE best free CAD programs that I have EVER used.  So I come from a background of using SolidWorks, and after using SolidWorks for years, I find that a lot of the free options just seem lacking.  This is the first program that made me stop and go WOW, that is incredible.  So this is DesignSpark Mechanical, and let me show you what it's all about.  So you have the sketch laying here and I can sketch on it like you can with most programs, and I can draw this rectangle and just start typing in the dimensions.  So I say I want this 40 millimeters by 20 millimeters -- it'll make that sketch and then I can then grab this sketch and pull it into a three dimensional...
and basically ten minutes into the video, you have this great understanding of this easy to use software.  The thing is, in my research everyone told me to "just use SolidWorks", but it's not really affordable. As for DesignSpark mechanical: it's for Windows.

At the end of the day, anything you can do on Windows you can do on Linux.  But, you may not have a particular piece of software.  Whether it's Adobe Aftereffects, Autocad, Solidworks, Photoshop, or some other piece of software, you may end up working with an alternative.  This is a great site for finding alternatives (http://alternativeto.net/).


Finally, there is another aspect that may interest you.  Ubuntu is derived from Debian, which has a very strong philosophy of "Free software", but here Free isn't about price, but rather a kind of public, common ownership that can't be taken away.  That may be part of the why people don't try to run Photoshop under Linux (they certainly could try) but instead develop a Free alternative, in this case Gimp.

It is absolutely worth pointing out that Arduino is part of this open, Free software movement.  Arduino is open source (which is a bit of a synonym for "free" - some people say F/OSS to denote either Free or Open Source.  Normally this Free idea is even stronger, it means that the license means it must always be available and can't be closed back off into a commercial project.)

So if you want to be part of this open source movement where people develop software together, I would above-all recommend Linux for that reason alone.  In my case I also use Linux, from within Windows, for example connecting to a Linux computer and also under emulation.  However, the Linux I use isn't a graphical system (like installing Linux as mentioned above) but on the server side or small embedded boards.

I've written a lot but still didn't cover the reasons you'd use a mac, which someone else could talk about, since I don't use one.
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: ChrisTenone on Jul 30, 2016, 12:50 pm
I agree with everything Robin2 said down to Ubuntu as being the "best overall support" under Linux.

...
Maybe never mind then.

When I start something on the computer, the last thing I want to consider is support.
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: curious48 on Jul 30, 2016, 01:05 pm
Maybe never mind then.

When I start something on the computer, the last thing I want to consider is support.
I think what both Robin2 and I meant by "support" is just that you try something and it'll work (Desktop examples: install spotify, install skype, run the arduino ide, whatever).  You don't have to go messing around with configuration files without knowing what's wrong, because a ton of people use it, it works.  You can just Google it.  You'll find seven different write-ups all telling you exactly what to do.  it "just works."

Ubuntu is very polished and people have no problems running at as their normal, everyday, desktop computer.  Unless you need some specific application you won't lose anything.  On the other hand what you gain is a bash prompt (without installing cygwin or something, which is a Unix-like subsytem for Windows).

however, this applies to when it exists.  If it doesn't run under Linux, that's another story.

@ChrisTenone - you said you have macs at home including for arduino stuff.  Any big advantage to the macs that you see?
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: AWOL on Jul 30, 2016, 03:37 pm
I use Ubuntu native on my own machines, and Ubuntu under emulation or dual boot on family Windows 10 machines
Haven't used an Apple product for anything non-trivial in over 25 years.
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: Robin2 on Jul 30, 2016, 06:51 pm
When I start something on the computer, the last thing I want to consider is support.
i did not mean "support" as in "help line".

I meant that it should work without any problems out of the box because the developers have put in a lot of effort to make it so. It is that effort that I was referring to when I used the word "support".

There is also lots of information available online if you need it.

...R
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: westfw on Jul 30, 2016, 11:23 pm
I like MacOS.  It's got the whole unix-like underlayer (and most linux OSSW applications can be compiled for MacOS), and a widely-used vendor-supported "standard" GUI/etc on top for running commercial applications and games and such.  (I'm less satisfied with Apple as a vendor, overall.  I'm really tired of them replacing core "apps" (iPhoto, iMovies) with versions that I like a lot less :-(  (and claiming that the older SW won't run under new versions of the OS.  grr.))
I've also got WXP, W8.1, and W10 on assorted low-end systems, VMs, and laptops, and to run window-only software like Atmel Studio.  And assorted linux versions have been installed now and then, and on VMs for testing.  But I can't seem to see the point of running linux.  I really don't want to spend too much time doing Unix Systems Administration...)

Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: Naneen on Jul 30, 2016, 11:56 pm
Thank you for the information and the links. Already head toward Linux, I decide to take the plunge and try it out. I know when I first looked at Linux there was very little support from the vendors. Now in the new century there is a lot of support that I see.

Question, It was mention that the CD version was better than stick. It is worth the $35.00 for a CD drive or not. My laptop has no drive.

Aw maybe I should just get one. Never know when I might have to  get one any way.
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: westfw on Jul 31, 2016, 03:18 am
Quote
It was mention that the CD version was better than stick.
Really?  I would think the opposite.  Disks are limited to about 9GB (DL DVD), while sticks are much larger.  Minimally, that means you can put additional stuff on a stick, but I'd think it would also mean that stick-based images might be larger than the CD images...

Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: curious48 on Jul 31, 2016, 04:16 am
Thank you for the information and the links. Already head toward Linux, I decide to take the plunge and try it out. I know when I first looked at Linux there was very little support from the vendors. Now in the new century there is a lot of support that I see.

Question, It was mention that the CD version was better than stick. It is worth the $35.00 for a CD drive or not. My laptop has no drive.

Aw maybe I should just get one. Never know when I might have to  get one any way.
It's not "better" just easier, if your computer already has a DVD drive.  Since it doesn't, I'd just look up to make sure my computer can boot from a flash drive (I'm sure yours can, but you might just google the computer model just in case) and then just format a Flash drive for booting.

Here are  very detailed instructions on Ubuntu's site (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/create-a-usb-stick-on-windows).

by the way this is a good example what is meant by support, since these instructions would be exactly the same for booting any other Linux from a flash drive - but every other Linux might not have these instructions prepared for you, as Ubuntu does.  the documentation and support is great.
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: sterretje on Jul 31, 2016, 07:32 pm
that you try something and it'll work
I haven been a hard core Linux user for years maintaining Slackware web servers, writing background applications for RedHat systems and I use Ubuntu at home (currently 12.04 in a dual boot with Win7).

And no, it's not always an easy sailing with Ubuntu. One update demolished (to say it friendly) my printer setup and as a result my printer sharing with other computers (Windows, Ubuntu and CrunchBang) is down the drain.
Also, if I recall correctly, no support for my Epson scanner; I don't necessarily blame Ubuntu for that but it's something to be aware off.

I currently only use Ubuntu for banking and for email.

Things might have changed; I don't know.

My current view is that Windows is for the desktop and Linux is for the servers; no experience with Macs.

My list of current operating systems (both at work and at home)
Win XP
Windows 7
Windows 8 (currently most used system because I currently develop Windows C# applications mostly)

CrunchBang
Ubuntu
Slackware
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: 68tjs on Jul 31, 2016, 10:09 pm
Simply I use Debian.  
Debian has become very simple to install, why choose copies?

On my PC I have a stable version and a testing version.
- "stable"  is normal version, It is very reliable and has very little update.
- "testing"  uses the latest versions of softwares. The updates are many and testing may sometimes be broken several days.
It is a development version, it is the equivalent of Windows 11.

I generally use "stable".  I use "testing" when I need the latest version of software

My personal files are on a separate partition and I share it with symbolic links towards stable or testing home.
I can access my files from "stable" or "testing" as if they were in each home.

At the beginning I had kept a dual boot with Windows.
One day I changed the motherboard. Debian has restarted immediately,  but Windows fails : when hardware is modified  you must completely reinstall Windows.
Although I had an OEM version I have never reinstalled windows.
Reinstall Windows OEM takes five times as long as installing Linux.

For Windows users:
- Debian "stable" = Windows 10
- Debian "testing" = Windows 11
- Debian "sid" = Windows11/Windows12
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: AWOL on Jul 31, 2016, 10:19 pm
Quote
Debian has become very simple to install, why choose copies?
Because Google mandates Ubuntu 12.04 LTS for Android development?
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: dmjlambert on Aug 01, 2016, 05:40 am
I'm a Mac, Windows, and Linux user.   And I use just one computer.   If you're curious and have a reasonably modern computer, all you have to do to try Linux is install VirtualBox and create a virtual computer and install whatever flavor of Linux you like.   Or create multiple different virtual computers, each with its own OS.  The whole Linux computer runs in a window, or you can run it full screen.   Delete any computer you don't like.   No need to install on disk, stick, or try to run from CD-R or DVD-R. 

You don't need to "change" to Linux to use it, and you don't need to set up some sort of dual booting nor boot from stick or CD-R on your Windows computer.  Just run Linux right now in a virtual machine that you spin up, for free.

My favorite Linux is CentOS 6.   My favorite OS overall is Mac OS X.   
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: Robin2 on Aug 01, 2016, 10:58 am
Just out of curiorsity does Windows run inside VirtualBox or does VirtualBox run inside Windows? Or, put another way, does one install VirtualBox on a blank hard disk and then install Windows and Linux etc?

Also, out of curiosity, doesn't the use of VirtualBox (or equivalent) use up a significant amount of the PC's performance before any OS gets a look in?

I have been thinking about something like this but I have never tried it.

...R
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: AWOL on Aug 01, 2016, 11:03 am
I think VirtualBox performance depends on the processor you're using - you may have to enable "emulation mode" in the BIOS to get the best out of it.
Performance is down a little (I wouldn't do an Android build or play video games on it!), but adequate for most things.
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: dmjlambert on Aug 02, 2016, 03:56 am
Just out of curiorsity does Windows run inside VirtualBox or does VirtualBox run inside Windows? Or, put another way, does one install VirtualBox on a blank hard disk and then install Windows and Linux etc?

Also, out of curiosity, doesn't the use of VirtualBox (or equivalent) use up a significant amount of the PC's performance before any OS gets a look in?

I have been thinking about something like this but I have never tried it.

...R
VirtualBox is an application that runs in Windows, or Linux, or Mac.   Whatever system you run it on is called the Host.   You then launch it and create Guest computers and spin them up.   For a Guest you select the type and sizes of drives, memory, number of processors, processor features, network cards, and all that jazz.   All that stuff is stored in files and is emulated when you "boot" the guest computer.   You boot the guest computer by clicking a button.   You can run whatever OS you want on your guest computers.   The only limitation is Mac OSX guest computers are only allowed if the host computer is also Mac OSX.  

Since most performance has to do with memory, and most modern computers (less than a dozen years old) have plenty of memory, the guest runs with quite acceptable performance for most applications.  

You can do fancy stuff, such as running the guest OS seamless, which makes the guest OS applications run side-by-side with your host OS apps, which is pretty cool.   You can also run guests by launching them on the command line in the background or as a scheduled task, and run them "headless" which means they are completely hidden in your host machine and you can't even tell they are running.  But they can be doing tasks for you, such as running web, ftp, media, or other servers.   You can then remote control the guest with something like remote desktop or VNC when you need access to the screen.  

I use this virtualization technology because it is fun, free, and handy, but I don't keep up with the razor's edge of developments.   I understand some virtualization hosts run on bare metal, which means there is no host OS.  The virtualization software runs as the main OS, and then you create guests for all of your various OS's.   I have not messed with that.   VMware is another major brand of virtual server, and Microsoft also has one but I don't know the name of it.   I have been using VirtualBox for years.  It was made by Sun Microsystems, and Sun was purchased by Oracle a few years back, so it is now Oracle software.   Oracle also has a Linux distribution, which is free and it is configurable as pretty much an exact copy of Redhat (Redhat is not free).    

Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: curious48 on Aug 02, 2016, 04:47 am
Just out of curiorsity does Windows run inside VirtualBox or does VirtualBox run inside Windows? Or, put another way, does one install VirtualBox on a blank hard disk and then install Windows and Linux etc?

Also, out of curiosity, doesn't the use of VirtualBox (or equivalent) use up a significant amount of the PC's performance before any OS gets a look in?

I have been thinking about something like this but I have never tried it.

...R
The only thing that can be installed on a blank hard drive so that you can boot it is an operating system (because the definition of an operating system is that you can boot  it), so your question about installing it on a blank hard drive is equivalent to asking "Is VirtualBox literally an installable operating system like Linux"?  Which is an interesting question and the answer is "No".  As far as I know neither virtualbox, nor VMWare, nor QEMU nor any number of other other options can literally be an operating system themselves that you can install on a blank hard drive.  They are all applications, like Chrome, Firefox.

Chrome and Firefox can run Javascript, and VirtualBox and other VM's can run a virtual computer.

It's possible to emulate a complete PC in javascript, for example here is an Apple 2 emulator: https://www.scullinsteel.com/apple2/ (warning, it's a bit noisy.)

So, the Apple 2 operating system thinks it's running on Apple 2 hardware.  But those calls are really being answered by Javascript.  In this case we would say that the Apple 2 is the guest operating system. The host in the above link is actually a javascript program run inside a browser.

Obviously this is very slow, since a browser probably executes hundreds to thousands of instructions for every one it emulates.  You wouldn't boot a Windows 7 computer in a Javascript emulator that emulates a machine, because that would be insane.

However, if you step outside of javascript and into a downloaded and installed application like VirtualBox, suddenly it's not insane.  Because modern CPU's provide virtualization instructions, so it's easy for them to safely emulate another architecture.

So.  If Firefox exists for a Mac, you can run Firefox on the mac and visit the above link to emulate an Apple 2.

If VirtualBox exists on a Mac, you can install virtualbox and run it and actually emulate a complete PC.  "Inside" the VM you can install anything, just like "inside" the javascript VM the apple 2 can do anything a normal real apple 2 could do.

what you install inside the emulated computer is called the guest, as someone stated.  The computer you're running the program on is called the host.

So just think of VM's like a Firefox browser, and the emulated computer like my Apple 2 emulated link - except a lot faster, because they're closer to the metal.  They can also install drivers that let you copy and paste between the guest OS and the host OS, and so forth.

so the first thing you would do after installing VM software is create a blank emulated/fake hard drive which the guest will see.  Then you mount a file into the emulated dvd-rom of the guest, such as for example windows installation media.  then the guest "boots" (but it only thinks it's doing so on hardware, just like the apple 2 operating system isn't really booting anythign, javascript is answering its instructions).  the guest operating system doesn't even know it's not booting on a real computer, and you let it install itself onto the emulated/fake computer inside.  it's super-safe.

for example it's a great way to isolate viruses.  they don't have any way to "break out" into the rest of your computer, just like the emulated Apple 2 inside Firefox can't write to your hard-drive.  it doesn't even know about your hard drive and can't ask about it.
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: westfw on Aug 02, 2016, 05:28 am
Virtual box is pretty cool, and performance is usually "reasonably acceptable" (although hard to predict, because the host OS will act as a sort of massive disk cache.  Maybe.  I run most of by VMs with 2G to 4G of memory, and my host has 14G.  Things get pretty painful if I run enough VMs and Host apps at the same time to fill up the available memory.

One problem is that windows (in particular) doesn't come with particularly VM-friendly licenses.  Put a purchased windows 8.1 on a VM, and you won't be able to clone it to a second VM on the same host, even if you were only going to run one at a time.  I'm not sure what will happen if I delete the VM and try to install windows on a brand new one; I'm afraid to try till I actually HAVE to.  (and being able to delete everything and start fresh is a very fundamental feature of using something like virtual box.)
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: dmjlambert on Aug 02, 2016, 06:15 am
One cool feature that helps with that, is you can take a snapshot, and then revert back to it.   So, take a snapshot of your guest while it is pristine, before you screw up your OS installation (with a poorly behaving or experimental program or virus, for example).   
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: westfw on Aug 02, 2016, 08:23 am
Quote
take a snapshot of your guest while it is pristine
Ah; maybe I should be using "snapshot" instead of "clone" to revert back to virgin install state.
WXP clones nicely; I put together a nice, bare, XP system, and then cloned it to have one for AVR development, one for PIC development, one for TI development, etc...  The W8.1 "clones" are the ones that won't "activate."

Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: nickgammon on Aug 02, 2016, 09:28 am
I use Ubuntu (Linux). About a year or so ago I made the break from using OS/X (I still have a few Macs) but made my Linux box my main PC. Email, Firefox, Arduino, etc. I haven't regretted it.

For a start it is fast and reliable. Secondly you don't have licensing issues like "I see you haven't activated your copy of Windows yet - you have 14 days to do that".

But the really great thing is, a lot of stuff you just expect to pay for on Windows and Macs, you get for nothing on Linux. For example, video transcoding (ffmpeg). Mucking around with PDFs (pdftk). Some things (like Firefox, Audacity, Blender, ffmpeg) are also available on other platforms as well, to be fair.

I haven't had any problems using Arduino on Ubuntu, after maybe an initial hiccup with permissions (covered on this forum and others).

As for VirtualBox, I am running a Windows XP partition to support my Windows programs I wrote a while ago. Compiling a large program is still fast under VirtualBox, so I don't have any complaints there. Plus Wine is a possibility for running Windows programs.

Another consideration is: virus-writers tend to concentrate on Windows. I'm not saying there aren't Linux viruses, but I haven't personally experienced any.

Another great program to look into is rsync - I use that for incremental backups. It's like Time Machine on the Mac (at least, it can be configured to be similar) where you can keep files that were deleted or altered.
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: westfw on Aug 02, 2016, 09:36 am
Quote
you can run it [ubuntu] from a USB flash drive.  Here are the Instructions on the Ubuntu site (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/try-ubuntu-before-you-install)
So can I use the live boot USB drive with a small file system ALSO on the USB drive?  (saved config, user file, user documents, etc, all in real files on the flash drive.)  I'd gladly sacrifice boot time and ram for the "live" image to have a USB stick I could insert "anywhere" and run MY unix environment...  (normally, the "try it out" option just decompresses a virgin filesystem to ramdisk, right?  I want it to decompress almost everything to ramdisk, and look to the USB drive for everything else...)

Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: Robin2 on Aug 02, 2016, 09:52 am
I'd gladly sacrifice boot time and ram for the "live" image to have a USB stick I could insert "anywhere" and run MY unix environment... 
That is really what Puppy Linux was developed for. Try it. 
Note, however that it is a single-user Linux. But it sounds like that would be OK for what you want.

...R
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: sterretje on Aug 02, 2016, 10:56 am
So can I use the live boot USB drive with a small file system ALSO on the USB drive?  (saved config, user file, user documents, etc, all in real files on the flash drive.)
Do a google for persistent install. The information I found is a little outdated (e.g. referring to Ubuntu Jaunty (9.something)) but it should still be possible.
Title: Re: Which operating system do you use and why?
Post by: dmjlambert on Aug 03, 2016, 02:52 am
The only thing that can be installed on a blank hard drive so that you can boot it is an operating system (because the definition of an operating system is that you can boot  it), so your question about installing it on a blank hard drive is equivalent to asking "Is VirtualBox literally an installable operating system like Linux"?  Which is an interesting question and the answer is "No".  As far as I know neither virtualbox, nor VMWare, nor QEMU nor any number of other other options can literally be an operating system themselves that you can install on a blank hard drive.  
You can boot any sort of program on a computer, from the hard disk.   It may or may not be an operating system.   An operating system is just a program that provides convenience for launching and supporting other applications, and often to manage running multiple programs concurrently.  But those same applications could be written to not need an operating system at all, and to boot directly.  In this modern times that is called bare metal programming.  

You can do bare metal programming with a Raspberry Pi, or even your PC.   We are accustomed to doing it with Arduino (at least most Arduinos).   It is appropriate to do bare metal programming for some applications, but to do that for any and all applications would be extremely inconvenient, because you would miss out on all the stuff the operating system would normally provide for you.   For example, you could write a version of gedit for bare metal, sounds easy, just a file editor.  Suppose that is the one and only program you need to run on your PC.   When you go to write a bare metal version of it you realize there's all sorts of stuff, like bootstrapping, window handling, file opening and closing, fonts and rendering, cursor and mouse pointer handing, drivers for everything (including mouse, keyboard, screen).  The full list would have hundreds if not thousands of items you need to worry about.  It would be pretty much a royal PITA.    

A hypervisor is a fancy name for a virtualization host.   VirtualBox is a hypervisor, or to be specific it includes a hypervisor among all the other software that makes up the suite.   I believe Oracle has not made a bare metal version of VirtualBox, but VMWare has one.   VMWare's version of a bare metal virtualization program is called vSphere Hypervisor.   You boot it up on your box instead of an operating system.