How Did You Decide on a Specific OS? What’s Your Story?

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For many of us when we are searching for a new computer or a new device, we aren’t searching blindly. We already know at least what operating system we’re looking for. Every OS has its pros and cons, so everyone determines which one works best for them, whether it’s Windows, Mac, or Linux, or even Android, iOS, or Windows Phone.

We cover all the different operating systems here at Make Tech Easier, so we put this question to some of our writers here and asked them, “How did you decide on a specific OS?”

Derrik reports that he “personally can’t stand anything but Linux.” He needs a terminal and SSH, as well as a command structure he is used to. He made his choice based on what he could do with OS. He uses Arch Linux because he can build it himself, modify it, and do whatever he feels comfortable with. He uses Android for much the same reason. He prefers it over iOS and Windows phone because he “can root it and tear it apart to a lesser extent.

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Trevor is a Windows guy because, for his needs, it gives him what he needs at a reasonable price. However, he used to be an Apple guy but switched back when he didn’t need the Apple-specific programs. Like Derrik, he uses Android because it’s more easily customized.

Vamsi ended up with Windows as well but not for the same reasons. He can’t afford Apple, and while he’d love to use Linux, he’s just never had a good relationship with it and always has problems with it no matter the distro. He’s never had any severe problems and appreciates the compatibility. He also believes Windows is as secure as any other OS as long as you know what you’re doing, but admittedly, he dual boots Windows 10 and Ubuntu. When it comes to mobile, he’s another Android user.

Mahesh decided on Mac OS X because it runs much faster than Windows, is less distractive, and is an OS that “just gets the job done without any hassle.” He uses iOS because he has found it and its apps to be more stable than other mobile OS.

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I use Mac because I got into it in the ’80s and ’90s. I used to be a typesetter/graphic designer, and while I got my start on a dedicated system, we switched to the more freeing Mac system. At that time if you were doing any type of art, you used a Mac. When it came to getting a home computer, I stuck with what I knew, the Mac, at first because of the familiarity and later because I preferred the system over Windows. When it came to mobile, it was a natural to stick with Apple and go with iOS, and truth be told, I do everything now in iOS, rarely moving back to my aging Mac at all.

We know you have a story, too, and we want to hear it. Do you just prefer one operating system over another? Or do you have a great story behind your choice of OS? How did you decide on a specific OS? What’s your story? Tell us in the comments below.

12 comments

  1. Used many OSes over the years as daily drivers.

    Today it’s Linux. Privacy, security, trust. I can’t get that anywhere else (except the BSDs). The peace of mind is priceless. Here’s the takeaway… Linux didn’t choose me, I chose it.

    Linux, as far as I can see now and based on current trends, is the OS I’ll be using for a very long time.

    As far as mobile… meh. I use Android. Had to jump through some hoops to get it rooted and so it’s fairly well protected as far as these things go – firewall, root-level ad blocker, MITM Wifi protection, focus on Open Source/Ad-Free Apps when I can.

    Still… I either get full control over my OS or I don’t. When I don’t, it’s a constant battle with *all* the multi-billion dollar corporations undermining our rights with buzzwords and misdirection.

    Will add the following. I always understood and appreciated Open Source. It wasn’t until just the last couple of years that its’ importance finally hit home in a profound way on both the software and hardware fronts.

  2. We all have different tastes which is great and there is different kind of users, some are just users, they watch movies, send emails and surf the insternet, i am a power user, i like to see what’s inside, how it works, how can i optimise and customise it to have a beautiful and powerful OS…

    I love Linux because it’s free, beautiful, simple, fast and it comes with so many different flavors.
    At home i am using 3 different Linux distros on the 3 computers i have at home, on the old one a very fast distro based on Arch Linux to play cartoons for the children, for my wife a simple and beautiful distro based on Ubuntu and for myself a fast, beautiful and powerful distro also based on Arch Linux.
    I had windows XP on my first computer around 10 years ago but i exchanged my official version to get an unofficial one to get a faster and cleaner experience and i liked it very much. I think this is what i like with Linux.
    So i tried over a hundred different Linux distros to see something new and i loved it but at that time it wasn’t very easy.
    Today i find Linux mature enough to make any kind of user enjoy it, i find it easier than Windows or OSX and it doesn’t break, there is no need to clean it to make it faster, no antivirus to update, no antispyware to install, it can be installed on a PC in less than 20 minutes.
    Using Linux i never feel like my PC is thinking of something else than what i am asking it to do…
    I installed Linux for different kind of people and they are still using it, they are just afraid of the change in the beginning but then they are happy and they never call me to fix it because it works.
    My first mobile was an Iphone and it was beautiful but i couldn’t customise it so i felt stuck in a box.
    Then i went on Android and i could do anything i wanted so i could have some fun.
    I love it very much, i am regularly trying new apps which is very funny, i changed the launcher, i also rooted my Android phone to remove some apps to get some space, some speed and more control over my device.
    So my present choices are Linux and Android and i won’t get back to Apple or Microsoft but i am open to anything new and better in the future.

  3. With Linux I have not to worry about antivirus, defragment the disk, install malware or spyware. Using Linux since 2010 for being robust, upgrades are a breeze and is very stable. I did not return to Windows.

  4. I had been using windows since 3.1 and when my family and I started our own business, windows XP was the os of choice. We stayed with windows and all its ramifications, keeping virus and spyware apps current. In 2013 we were hit with a cryptolocker virus that nearly killed our business. An employee downloaded something he shouldn’t have and left his computer on all night. His computer and our network storage was all encrypted. Luckily we had backups which were only a week behind but that weeks worth of data was significant. We refused to be a victim, refusing to pay the ransom, we rebuilt our data storage which cost us additional employee time.
    Through the years I had found that dual booting my computer with linux allowed me to repair windows when it failed. After consulting with my IT manager we decided linux would be a more secure os and was mature enough to switch all of our computers and servers to linux. The learning curve was a bit of a challenge for our employees but the effort was worth it. We originally chose ubuntu studio as our os but after 6 months we switched to mint. It has been three years now and our productivity has never been better. We do have some windows apps that are necessary for our business but they are run on virtual servers that are locked down.
    We increased our network security and keep our employees up to date on the proper use of their computers and we backup every night.
    The cost of doing business has decreased due to increased use of open source software. Libre Office Suite works well for most of our staff. We use Firefox and Chrome for our web browsers and Thunderbird for our email client. There’s less computer downtime and better productivity. Unless something superior comes along I don’t see us switching away from linux.

  5. I’ve been involved in computers since 1985: my first “PC” was an Apple IIc. I went the DOS route, then Windows 3.1, then Windows98SE, and finally XP. I do have a PC running Win7 Pro but it dual-boots to Linux Mint, which I use 95% of the time.

    I’m sort-of known as a computer “expert’ at work (I’m a nurse). People ask me which “kind of computer” should they get — i.e., which OS do I recommend — and until recently I’d strongly suggest converting their older PC to a Mint machine. I even did so for free for quite a few folk, encouraging them not to ignore the little blue shield when it comes up in the taskbar to remind them to update. However, I’ve settled into the fact that people while use computers for a variety of reasons, most want a system that sort-of doesn’t “break”. I’ve had the odd issue with Linux, one that I was able to readily fix, but those issues made me realise that I wasn’t really offering a solution for the “every-person” who wants the thing to just work. I cannot in good faith recommend Microsoft products anymore.

    So, I bought a Mac. You can get decent used ones for not so much, anymore — bought a Macbook White with a Core Duo (i.e., supporting 64-bit) for AUD$ 110.00. Got a charge cable for $25 and a new battery for $30 on ebay. I’m going to mess with it a bit, but overall it runs like a champion, slow but steady.

    Long-story-short, I recommend Macs now, *IF* you have to get a PC at all. For the tech-minded, I still suggest Linux Mint. Windows? not so much.

    • So, a Linux machine is NOT a PC? Yeah right. Apple computers are PC’s too… despite the claims of dorky ads from yesteryear.

  6. I guess I’m a mixed environment kind of guy at this point. I use Windows 7 on my desktop because when I built it a few years back that was the least painful way to play the games I had, LMDE Mint on an aging netbook, because I don’t like to be prompted to do a full os update every 6 months and I just bought a successor to the netbook with Windows 10 on it. The last one because I felt I needed to at least try windows 10 before dismissing it out of hand. Will probably move it to Mint or Debian by the end of the year. It has a small ssd for a hard drive and W10 has some bad habits that make it annoying on a system like that..

  7. I was a bona fide Windows only user. from Win 3.1 right up to Windows XP. And then one day? Due to no fault of my own, I lost EVERYTHING on my hard drive due to a BSOD. (Wouldn’t you know it?…that was the MONTH when I was moving and didn’t have access to my external hard drive!) So being completely fed up and frustrated, I looked first toward Apple, but just one look at the prices?..and I made an immediate about face! (I did say I was in the process of MOVING didn’t I?…i had to find a sizable amount for the down-payment…so spending $2000.00 or more? was DEFINITELY out of the question!) Which left Linux….and I entered from the “wrong end”…not being savvy enough to start off with the simpler ones, and not knowing what any of it meant…..I stumbled upon Fedora Linux. (they were up to release Number 12/13) and I never looked back. Granted I lost TONS of data THREE TIMES with Linux!…..not knowing that there are certain partitions you should NEVER delete!. I also had to cut my teeth on the whole Terminal and “yum” (now called “dnf”!) segment. I have become so used to Linux that I cannot fathom EVER going back to Windows, or paying a small mortgage for an Apple device! Funnily enough? I’m actually TYPING this on an iMac, (21″ 2009 version) someone GAVE it to me, as I don’t believe in paying the prices they ask for some of their items.) And this iMac is running LINUX MINT 18!!….and it runs JUST FINE! I don’t have to worry about not getting updates……I can browse the web for hours and never ONCE get infected…..I have a PDF reader, an office suite, a media player, a CD/DVD burner, an e-mail application along with a Calendar that I can sync with my Google Calendar etc…etc. So there’s really no incentive for me to leave the Linux and open source world now.

  8. I’d used XP for its entire lifespan. When XP went EOL, that was it. I’d had enough of malware, BSODs, hangs, crashes, unexplained freeze-ups, etc.

    No way was I giving M$ any more of my hard-earned. Macs? I’m not a millionaire, thanks. Which left one viable alternative. Linux.

    Started with Ubuntu. Was happy for about 8 months…..until Canonical’s never-ending ‘updates’ started breaking hardware functionality on my old Compaq desktop. So I began investigating lightweight distros. Tried several, and then an acquaintance on the Ubuntu Forum suggested I give Puppy Linux a try. Played around with a few ‘Pups’, and quickly came to realise that I felt comfortable with this little distro in a way that I hadn’t until that point.

    Now it’s my ‘daily driver’, as I believe the expression goes. I run what few Windows apps I still want under WINE…..with 100% full functionality. And the forum membership have even fixed one of the few remaining stumbling blocks for Puppy; getting sound to work in Skype (PulseAudio being the culprit in this case, which is not native to Puppy….never has been.)

    I run Photoshop CS2 under WINE, alongside the native Linux graphics editor, the GIMP (graphic design being a long-standing hobby of mine.) LibreOffice takes care of my correspondence needs, and Puppy’s multitude of lightweight, built-in apps (there’s a lot packed into 200 MB!) take care of the rest. On top of which I package 64-bit versions of Chrome, and the SlimJet browser, for the community.

    I’m happy with my Pups..!

  9. When I started back in the 80’s our company had a large server installation with MS DOS computers connected. Buying my first computer via the company it was natural to have it run on MS DOS.

    When Microsoft came with the first Windows based OS our company followed this and so did I.

    Later on I worked in a technical company working with software development for Phone and FAX I worked mostly with Windows as our customers used it on their environment but as the Phone Switch was Linux based I did a small bit there as well.

    Never had the opportunity to work with MAC and for private use I already was hooked up with windows to much to change.

    Nowadays I work with Windows 8 and 10 and with both major mobile phone platforms Google Android and Apple

  10. My latest device is a Surface. I almost got an iPad (because of the hype and its portability). But when I read about the Surface, I was thrilled. It answered my needs. I need a device that I can carry to the clients and on an OS that they are already familiar with so they can collaborate with me on my documents. In my part of the globe, practically all office execs use Office Suite products so the Surface is a very logical device to invest in. I’m sure iOS proponents will say that they can also run Office Suite products, but an Apple book, I was told, don’t have slot(s) for memory cards.
    As one who has been on DOS up to Windows 8.1, the latest Windows 10 gives me the best experience so far.

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