Saturday, January 06, 2007

Vista, OS X, Linux Operating System Smack Down

Which is truly the best OS out there (Windows Vista, OS X, or Linux)? This is a tough question to answer to because they're all great operating systems. Vista and OS X are great commercial operating systems. While Linux is a solid open source platform that has a lot of things going for it, and it's free.

I need to be balanced here by saying in the past (pre-Windows XP SP2), Windows track record for stability and security fell short of its competitors. Also by using a Window's platform you need to be diligent about keeping your system and your applications up-to-date with the latest patches. Although, to be fair there are a good number of updates (security and bug-fixes) that are constantly being made available for the OS X and Linux system and application.

Windows Vista is fighting an up hill battle against all the malicious software (i.e.: viruses, spyware, rootkits, etc.) that is out there. Because Windows is the most popular OS, you have more people looking for flaws in the OS that they can use to steal your personal information. Linux and OS also have some malicious software available for those platforms, but its just not as prevalent.

Windows Vista has hardware requirements that exceed its predecessor, Windows XP. The OS now requires an accelerated graphics card to fully take advantage of the new features. Macintosh OS X, runs on top of custom hardware that Apple designed. So it has certain speed and compatibility advantages. Both of these OSes also require a lot of RAM for the OS to run smoothly.

Linux is great for running on older hardware, in fact it runs better on it. It doesn't have the same system requirements as Vista or OS X. Although, Linux is no slouch, it has been ported to run on mainframes and supercomputers and neither of the other two OSes can say that about themselves.

So which is the best OS, the answer is all of them for different applications. Windows Vista is a great general purpose OS for doing just about all things, and shines as a gaming platform. The Macintosh OS X is a great easy to use OS, with some great applications from Apple and 3rd party developers. OS X also has some amazing video, audio creation and editing software. Linux is an awesome OS has been geared in the past for the more technical users, and its development community is trying to make it easier to use.

OS Scoring Matrix
Below is a matrix that I used to score the different operating systems in several key areas. I tried to be as balanced and impartial as I can, but I will be the first to say that I am primarily a Microsoft OS user. I have used OS X and Linux, but they're not my primary OS.

My scoring system works by giving each OS 5 points in different categories. I try to justify my score based on the notes that provided. The higher the points means that the OS is better in that category.

Total Score 30 27 22

Windows Vista Mac
OS X
Ubuntu Linux
Graphical User Interface 4 5 2

Note: Hands down the OS X has the best GUI, but Microsoft is catching up with Vista. Although, the OS X GUI still superior in some ways. Linux is about three to five years behind OS X, and two to three years behind Vista.

OS Stability 4 5 5

Notes: OS X and Linux have great OS stability, both of their kernals are based on UNIX which is about 35+ years old. Microsoft has made some major strides in making its OS more stable. Although I believe my Windows 2003 SP1 servers and Vista desktops are just as stable as other computers running OS X or Linux.

OS Security 4 5 5

Notes: The Mac OS X and Linux have been known for having really good security for a long time. Although starting with Windows XP SP2 Microsoft has made some major strides in making their OS more secure. Windows Vista is the most secure OS that Microsoft has ever produced. Although there is still room for improvement

Software Library 5 3 2

Notes: Hands down Windows has more commercial application support then any other platform. The Mac has some great commercial multimedia applications and some very cool custom applications from Apple, but the commercial application support for this platform is limited. On Linux some large companies have ported some expensive applications, but other then that this OS relies on open source software.

Hardware Support 5 2 2

Notes: Again another of Windows strengths is its hardware support from its vendors. Even Apple has been forced to port some of their technologies (i.e.: Quicktime and iTunes for the iPod) to gain broader acceptance of their software. Although there is better commercial hardware support for the Macintosh then there is for Linux. Linux does have some pretty amazing hardware support considering that most commercials developer don't write drivers for it.

OS Install 4 4 4

Notes: Linux has made some major strides simplifing the install of their OS over the years, but its still not perfect and can very from distribution to distribution. Windows Vista now has an all graphical install that is really easy to use. The Mac OS X always has had a really good OS install process, because Apple designs and maintains all the core hardware.

Application Install 4 3 2

Notes: Installing most applications on Windows or OS X is easy when compared to Linux. Linux is seriously hindered by not having a uniform framework for installing applications, every application I installed under Linux has always been difficult. This is also complicated by the multiple distributions that are available. Although I will say that things are getting better, but they still have a long way to go.
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