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Alternative operating systems

While Windows is the dominant operating system in use today and Mac OS X is constantly gaining market share, there are many other options when it comes to picking an OS. Linux is the obvious choice with very good hardware support and masses of easily installed software packages. The initial obstacle for me is always which distribution to choose. Techradar have a good basic guide to what they consider the best 14 distributions for a range of user levels.

My biggest problem with linux is that while there have been massive improvements in ease of installation and setup there are some basic things that don’t just work. I have searched for a long time for an easy way of setting up a Microsoft multi-button mouse. It can be done by editing an xorg.conf file, but this is 2008 so why do we have to resort to this to get a popular piece of hardware working? I have yet to find a package that configures the mouse for you.

Another problem I had was getting games to work under Linux, specifically the audio part. The OS was Fedora which had switched to the newer Pulse Audio system and the games didn’t want to work with this. I know there are workarounds to fix these problems, but again it’s editing config files. Getting audio working on my hackintosh was easier than this, I just dropped a couple of modified kernel extensions onto KextHelper and rebooted. Here’s an article detailing the various sound API’s available.

Moving away from LInux there are lots of smaller operating systems that while not quite ready for widespread use are looking very interesting. Royal Pingdom has the details on ten of the most promising. Amiga OS 4.1 is one of the options I wish had more widespread use, but unfortunately the hardware to run it is neither cheap nor widely available. React OS is aimed at providing a Windows compatible operating system for free, and the others all have a unique focus. Well worth a read.

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