Which operating system do you use and why?

ChrisTenone: 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

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...)

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 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…

Naneen:
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.

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.

curious48: 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

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, [u]but[/u] [u]Windows fails[/u] [u]:[/u] 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

Debian has become very simple to install, why choose copies?

Because Google mandates Ubuntu 12.04 LTS for Android development?

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.

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

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.

Robin2: 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).

Robin2: 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.

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.)

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).

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."

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.

you can run it [ubuntu] from a USB flash drive. Here are the Instructions on the Ubuntu site

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...)

westfw: 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

westfw: 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.