When I started playing around with computers including programming and games, it was around the age of the first personal computer with Commodore 64 using tapes, which then lead to 5 1/2 inch floppies, and then to 3 1/4 inch floppies with the hard shell. We finally got into CD’s which was great! Then DVD’s came, USB flash drives, external hard drives and now BluRay discs! Somewhere in all the excitment, I forgot to mention when the computer finally changed over from being run off a tape cartridge and floppies to hard disks. Anyway, that’s not what this article is about.
The early computers where based on Unix (originally spelt Unics which stood for UNiplexed Information and Computing Service, until 1970 when it could support multiple simultaneous users), which is what I learned on initially. Mac operating systems are based on unix which is part of what makes them so stable. DOS (Disk Operating System) came out later in 1979 which is what Microsoft Windows is running on. So for all these years, all Mac versions are running basically a GUI (Graphicaly User Interface) off a Unix system. All Microsoft Windows versions over the years is running off a DOS based system. So, with this so called “newer” Linux operating system starting to get more media coverage, all it’s various flavours are based on a Unix shell. That’s right, same as the Mac. So here’s the beauty of the Linux systems, but first it will be helpful to take a step back.
Microsoft Windows can run on any software, can use any hardware, and has been referred to as a mistress, who will be compatible with anyone, but not very stable or reliable.
Apple’s Mac can only run certain software that it authorizes to run, although there are ways around it, but also can only run on their own hardware (more expensive, and you thought Microsoft was trying to monopolize…), but then you get a more stable and reliable system.
Now here’s the beauty of Linux. It runs on a Unix based system (like the Mac) but can be installed on any PC based hardware (like Windows), so you have the better security and stability like the Mac, but with the less expensive hardware like the PC, and many more choices in hardware too! Oh, and the kicker…Linux is FREE! Now before anyone gets carried away, there are versions of Linux you must pay for, such as Red Hat but you get support with this as well. You can find a variety of versions and other information on the following website: https://www.linux.com/directory/Distributions/desktop
You can download a bootable CD, so you can try it on your computer without installing anything to your hard drive. If you like it, you can install it side by side with Windows and have a dual boot system. Reboot your computer and choose if you want to boot into Windows or Linux. It’s a great way to play with it and slowly transition over to Linux.
It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 5-10 years.