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Monday, November 29, 2010

Options (As Far As Your Computer Goes)

     So, I'm getting ready to try out the Meego variant of netbook operating system today.  This got me to thinking.  There are a lot of options out there for your computer these days.
     There are the standard classes;  Mac, Windows, Linux, Solaris, BSD, and true Unix.  But within each of these groups there are a slue of choices as well.  For Mac, you've got either OSX or iOS.  Recently within windows you've got XP, Vista, and Win7.  Linux, well, I'll just list my favorites: Ubuntu, Moblin, Meego, Red Hat, Mint, Suse, Debian, Android, etc.  (Way too many options for Linux.)  Solaris you can either pay for or download OpenSolaris(for now).  BSD is like Linux, everyone has their own flavor.  And Unix has all but disappeared from the main stream, but there are still places that have a copy of some type of UNIX.
     So, with all of these options, which one is the best?  None, really.  There is so much variation within the computing world that you really can't claim one is better than the other.  Each serves it's specific purpose.
     But, with this list, I can start to show a bigger picture of what niche each system fills.
     Lets start with Mac.  Of its two major variations on the market currently, iOS is easier to explain, so I will start there.
     iOS is for those of you who want a mobile device that is stable and supported.  I know there are Android fans who will argue this to the sun and back, but in an honest and unbiased view, iOS is more stable, and more supported.  It has a central company behind the reins and they manage their products very well.  Plus, iOS devices are sleek and stylish, if that is one of your major concerns as far as computing goes.
     Next, Mac OSX.  This system really works well for people who need to work with computers but don't really want to deal with computers.  If you need to connect to the internet, do business online, or manage a professional career in graphic design, a Mac computer is probably the system for you.  These computers come at a higher price tag, but for the most part come with everything right out of the box.  Don't believe me, go to your local software supplier and look at the software title offerings available.  The Mac section may take up one eighth of what's offered, but will only contain programs for professional careers, or small business applications, and the occasional Windows crossover program.  If you want a well supported system, with lots of software available right off the bat, this is where you want to look.
     Next, the Windows empire.  This series of operating systems is treated as just such a thing, on more in long running line of previous OS's.  Where it lacks in out-of-the-box luster, Windows makes up for in shear volume.  Anything and everything you could ever want to do with a computer is supported and possible in a windows environment.  Plus, it is the most widely supported OS in the world.  If you know your way around the computer a little bit, and you want to use your computer for whatever you come up with, a Windows PC is probably your greatest friend.  Also, THERE IS NO OTHER PLATFORM FOR PC GAMING!  I have had discussions with people that you can get Linux to play anything a Windows PC can, or that you can play plenty of games on a Mac, but honestly, I've known people who've had to give up their spendy MacBook or give up on their moral code of only using open source, just so that they can play the latest RTS or first person shooter.  If you're into gaming, don't bother with other systems yet, they haven't gotten to the point of being useful.
     And now for the largest section in this review, the Linux base.  Because there are so many different variations that can do so many different things, I'm focusing on two variants in this article, Ubuntu and Moblin, because these are the two variants Digital Fruit supports.
     Now, you usually run a Linux box for only a hand full of reasons.  You are either a more experienced computer user who has a moral or personal objection over paying gobs of money to Microsoft for the same old thing year after year, your a cost conscious business that can hire a full time administrator, or you are a web host that really really needs stable servers.  But for a budding group of people you use Linux because its cheap, and its convenient.
     The last group of Linux users are people who've found out about Linux distributions like Ubuntu.  Ubuntu is a Linux distro designed for people who know very little about the internal operations of Linux, but don't really feel like paying for new software just because a business decides you haven't given them enough money so they are going to drop support for your product.  Easy enough for people without experience to use, Ubuntu gives you a great computing experience on a budget.  Downsides:  though this all may sound magical and make you wonder why the world hasn't switched over to Ubuntu, there are some downsides.  There is a huge lack of support over Linux in general, and Ubuntu is only one of thousands of versions of Linux.  So, if your computer breaks, there are very few people trained to fix it.  Also, I have yet to find a distribution of Linux that didn't have a moral goal behind it.  As admirable as this is, operating systems and computers in general are tools, to be used by people for whatever purposes they may imagine, so to build one on a specific moral pillar may cause problems down the road. 
     Then there are distributions like Moblin.  Moblin has a moral point, as well, but its kind of a funny one.  Moblin aims to be the best Netbook operating system ever, or at least the best one you'll ever see.  The problem this creates is that it is only usable on netbooks or nettop devices.  These tiny computers are meant to be companion devices, or access terminals for web-based use.  This makes this OS centered around a busy lifestyle, and if that describes you, I'd give it a shot.  If every there were an OS to describe abstractly, I'd have to call Moblin energetic and bouncy.  Though maybe not geared to the more mature generation, I can see Moblin take a hold in the mobile teen generation.  The only retail outlet pre-loading Moblin that I've seen, though, is us, Digital Fruit.  So if you'd like to see a demo, drop on by and we'll be happy to show you, or you can just check out the video shown in this post on the blog.
    Well, with out going into too much detail, this has been a quick over-view of Operating Systems currently out on the market.  Digital Fruit has always believed that the best buying decisions are made when a customer is informed about the subject.  If you have any other questions concerning these or any other operating systems, head on over to http://digitalfruit.biz/techsupport, or just call us at (360) 593-6082.  We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.