If you’re like most people, you’re reading this sitting at a PC running Windows. However, you’ve probably heard of Macs and Linux. Or maybe you’re a Mac or Linux user. Which of these three systems is the best one for you? This article helps you decide on Wide Info.
A PC running Microsoft Windows?
The majority of computers sold these days are PCs running Windows XP or Vista. By getting a Windows PC, you’ll find many hardware, software, support, and computer books available to you. You’ll also find that Windows is relatively easy to learn compared to Linux, and if you get stuck, you probably know a family member, friend, or neighbor who’s a Windows expert.
On the downside, Windows tends to attract many viruses, spyware, and other nasty software, so make sure you keep your anti-virus software up to date. It can have stability issues, too; be prepared to reinstall the software, or maybe Windows itself, occasionally, to keep things running smoothly. You can also end up spending a lot of money on third-party software to get the functionality you need. Windows is great for relative beginners, PC enthusiasts, computer game players, and folks who need a high level of compatibility with their work and friends’ PCs.
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An Apple Mac?
The second most popular setup after a Windows PC is an Apple Mac. Macs are different from PCs in that the system, Mac OS X, is tightly tied to the Mac hardware; you can’t run Mac OS X on a PC (though you can run Windows and Linux on a Mac). On the plus side, this tight integration means that Macs are generally very stable. You’ll also find that Macs are very easy to learn for a beginner, though if you’re used to Windows, it’ll take you a week or two to switch to Mac OS.
The bad news is that you’re tied to Apple as a hardware supplier, and Apple’s computers do tend to be a bit pricier than most PC equivalents. However, the quality of the hardware and the relatively trouble-free running of Mac OS help offset the extra cost. As with Windows, prepare to spend some extra cash on third-party software, though Macs come with some great built-in software for jobs like photo editing and movie making. Macs are perfect for absolute beginners, creative types, and people who want their computers to “just work” with a minimum of fuss.
A PC running Linux?
In recent years a third option has appeared for the home user: Linux. This versatile system can run on PCs, Macs, and even mobile phones. While not as user-friendly as Windows or Mac OS, its ease of use and compatibility is constantly improving. Best of all, it’s completely free, and there’s a huge range of free software available for it, so it’s a great choice if you’re on a budget. Generally speaking, Linux tends to be more stable than Windows and doesn’t carry such a risk of virus infection.
Linux comes in many different flavors, known as “distributions.” A popular choice for home use is Ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com/), which is just about the easiest to use Linux distribution out there. You download a CD image, burn a CD, pop it in and reboot. You can run Ubuntu straight off the CD, or install it onto your hard drive as well as, or instead of, your existing system. The main problem with Linux is that not all peripherals – such as web cameras and printers – play nicely with it; however, peripheral support in Linux is much better than a few years ago.
Linux is a good choice if you’re technically minded, you don’t fancy forking out for a Mac, you like the idea of a vast range of totally free software, or you’d like to try something different. At the end of the day, the best system for you is the one you feel most comfortable with, and that also helps you get your stuff done easily. It’s worth spending some time with all three setups if you can, then choose the one that feels right for you.