Windows vs MacOS vs Linux

January 30, 2020    Linux Windows MacOS Operating Systems Apple Microsoft

Purpose

This article is an attempt to compare the features (that mattered the most to me as Consumer / Developer) among the most preferred Operating Systems for desktop/laptop computers and share my opinions on them.

I’m sure that this could benefit all those naive/ameture/beginner programmers among you who are planning to buy a new computer or to switch/try to a new OS.

I would like to explicitly mention once again that through this article I’m just trying to express my opinions of the subject and does not intend to abuse, abase, belittle (or any of their synonyms) any Person, Team, Product or an Organisation.

Why am I Penning this down? Or maybe ‘Key’-ing this down??

It’s been long since I had a longing for writing something down, about around 2 months. It definitely wasn’t because of me, running out of topics. On the contrary I have about 3-4 articles left half way through and about half-a-dozen in the pipeline that I’m yet to start. It is that that I haven’t had the mood of writing something down this while. Until now, I attributed that to the changes taking place in my life. Just, a while ago, a thought struck me that, It is since then when I started using my office laptop running on Windows 10 that this has been happening… and I sincerely think, the OS has some effect on me. I have worked with a variety of Operating Systems (versions and flavours) by far and during the course of this experience, I have developed some taste on certain aspects of them.

These machines practically bring bread and butter to the table, of significant number of us and so, I think, it has to be encouraging us in being/getting more productive. With this idea in mind, let’s look into the varied systems that I’ve used and which enouraged me more.

Operating Systems (OS), Versions & My Acquaintences

Do More With Less - The principle that I tend to follow

Windows : 95 to 10

The year that I touched a computer for the first time goes way back in history for about 2 decades when I was studying my 5th grade and was introduced to programming on BASIC programming language. The computers in lab of the school were powered by Windows 95 operating system. Forget about Linux, Mac or any others, as I barely knew the term ‘Operating Systems’ itself. For all I knew, it was just a Windows Computer, whatever that meant.

  • Things I used Windows 95 for
    • BASIC (both Noun & adjective, in this context) Programming
    • Playing Sky Roads (click on the link to check how the game looks like)
    • Dealing with the all mighty & legandary Blue Screen (RAM) Errors

Since then, as the years passed by, I had been experiencing differnt versions of Windows like 98, 2000NT, XP, 7 and currently have Windows 10 installed in my office laptop.

Mac OS : Snow Leapord to High Sierra

My experience with Mac OS though included a considerable learning curve, it had been a breeze ever since. The eco-system that it provided along with iPhone and iPad that I had, it was kind of a cake walk while switching between devices with Apple’s Continuity feature. I feel that that is the best match made in heaven ever between the hardware and the software.

That machine hosted the best displays that I had ever seen on any computer till then and it doesn’t stop just there, the speed, the reliability, the speaker setup and what not, everything was just best in class. And all of which contributed towards delivering the best experience I could ever get of a laptop. Period.

I hardly wrote a couple of hundreds of lines of code while using it and therefore do not want to comment anything on the development experience that it would offer. I gave up the machine soon I joined an organisation which required me working on Microsoft’s SQL Server which I wasn’t able to figure-out how to install it in the machine (Yes, I was that naive (or maybe the right word should be stupid) back then).

Linux : Ubuntu (16 to 18) & Linuxmint Cinnamon (19.1 (Tessa) to 19.3 (Tricia))

Switching

In January 2018, I forced myself to use Linuxmint with Cinnamon (64 Bit) flavor despite having an Activated version of Windows 10 installed on my machine for the reasons that,

  • with Windows 10

    • I observed a lot of lag while invoking & using applications like
      • Pycharm (Python IDE from IntelliJ)
      • Chrome (browser)
    • My RAM and Disk utilisations were maxed out, though,
    • the CPU utilisation never went up beyond 20% (I felt it to be a terrible resource management)
    • License once activated, forever activated due to Microsoft’s changed way of activating windows
  • with Linux

    • Undeniably the greatest advantage is, it being distributed for absolutely no cost (apart from some versions like RedHat)
      • with all those different versions and flavors available, one has the widest range of options to choose from (Ex: Debain, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, ElementaryOS, Kali, etc…)
    • Virus Free when compared to Windows OS, and finally
    • The fact that it comes with the captions like “May the Source be with You” (Open Source), got me a little excited. (Though it might be something that I maybe able to handle only in the future)

(apart from the above mentioned) I was pretty skeptical about almost everything regarding my machine when I moved to Linux. I knew nothing about it but just that it is the favourite operating systems of Computer Geeks like Professional Developers and the mighty Hackers. But then, I was sure that I wanted to give it a try and let me tell you

  • Linux is the platform that offered the steepest learning curve among the OSs I’ve used by far (or atleast I felt so)
    • after all, choosing the version and the flavor itself took a good 2-3 months of analysis
  • Nothing was a cake walk initially, not even adding an application to the system path just to be able to invoke it from the terminal

Benefits

Yet the OS managed to keep me captivated by the immidiately improved boot up speeds and application invoking speeds for Pycharm and Chrome and when I checked under system moniter application (haven’t heard of top command by then),

  • Disk Utilisation fell drastically down and was actually reflecting the intensity of the tasks that I was running
  • RAM utilisation to 70 - 80 %, and the best part,
  • CPU utilisations raised upto 60 - 70 % with all the 4 cores of my 4th Gen core i5 Intel Processor being active.

And these statistics, led me to learn more on being able to use the OS in better ways and started looking out for blogs for my needs and I’m overwhelmed by the number blogs I came across then that have a rich content addressing the issues that I was looking out for apart from the outstanding Community Support.

A Big Shoutout to all those Open Source Contributors out there!

Applications I run in My Computer

When I learnt from my mentor that he used to use the Terminal (on Linux) window itself to even check his emails, I really admired the capability of both my mentor and his tool. And when I observed him taking notes in the terminal, I thought that even I should be able to do so.

Now, even I use Vim on my Terminal though only for quick/short code debugs or edits and consider myself a novice at it, I use the terminal most of the time for invoking applications, running my personal automation scripts (which can be found here)

However, I have recently decided to learn to use VSCode like the expert Vim users (like my mentor) as VSCode practically has the capability to support as much, making the only difference between the tools confine to the fact that Vim is a Terminal based editor and VSCode is not.

Vim users may not need to leave the Terminal ever and VSCode users may not need to leave the Code ever!

Along with VSCode, below are the list of applications that I most often use on my machine.

  • Browsers : This takes care of my entertainment as well (YouTube, PrimeVideo, Netflix)

    • Vivaldi : My favourite browser since the last couple of months as it has got some decent, unique and (actually) useful features apart from speed that I like to have in a browser
      • You could download it from here if you would like to try : Download
      • One downside of this browser is that one cannot watch the videos from Primevideo of Amazon on this browser in High Definition (HD)
    • Mozilla Firefox
    • Google Chrome
      • I prefer it the least among the ones mentioned here because, it kind of acts as if it is an operating system itself by acquiring insane amounts of RAM
      • I, obviously, prefer it more than the ones that I haven’t mentioned here because of its versatility, cosmetics and for one main reason that I wasn’t able to use both Firefox or Vivaldi with Selenium, yet.
  • Editors

    • Visual Studio Code (VSCode) : My most favourite Code Editor by far
    • Vim
    • Anaconda (Mainly Jupyter & IPython)
  • Integrated Development Environments (IDE)

    • Pycharm

Things I hate about each OS

Windows

The things that I hate about include but are not limited to the list below, so follow,

  • Why the hell the alias ls was created in Powershell if not to deceive the users when it doesn’t work with any of the flags like it does in a Unix based system

  • Command Prompt : Cannot be called even as a poor man’s terminal as this OS ain’t free! All it can do is nothing but just run some commands and as if that’s not enough, one can’t even switch to administrator mode while running the prompt with user privileges

  • Why one Powershell and one Command Prompt when neither could beat the experience offered by just one Terminal?

  • Application Installation / Uninstallation

    • Again in this front, nothing can beat the experience of command based installations on the Unix based systems
    • Most of you might feel that the GUI based installation is quiet simple but I’m lazy to even use my touchpad/mouse to select the radio/check boxes and click the buttons as
      • I prefer command based installation to the above and the fact that one can pass the flag -y to auto accept all terms and conditions is just orgasmic!
      • Though there exists a command line package installation tool like chocolatey, it isn’t as versatile or extensive as apt-get
  • Windows Updates and the duration it takes, I think this is somthing I need not say anything about, and so, let’s move on.

MacOS

The thing that I hated the most when I used a Mac machine was the way of installing an application.

  • For some, one’s got to drag the application icon and drop it in the applications folder
  • For some, one’s got to double click on the icon, and,
  • For others, install from the AppStore

I really don’t like the inconsistency at this one aspect, apart from which, I guess one can say that it is flawless.

Linux

I do not have anything that I can claim that I hate about it or maybe I haven’t become that pro user of linux to have experienced one.

I feel that Linux OS is like an object made of the Lego pieces. If one doesn’t like the given shape or object, one can always modify it.

Conclusion

After all the analysis and the fact that I actually feel that Linux is the OS that had made me read more, write more and code more, I think I would be happy if preferred Linux as my daily driver or goto operating system. For which, all I would do, is go and buy a machine as per my requirements of size, shape and internals and install Linux in it. And, if my pocket allowed, I would buy a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro 13” to consume or create any audio/visual content, including writing articles for my blog/YouTube Channel.

I somehow feel that Windows isn’t an operating system for professionals like coders or artistis and therefore would recommend to prefer it for those machines that will be consumed by the non-technical folks around you as it is the system that has the least learning curve. Also, it is again an undeniable fact that most of the computers on the planet are currently powered by it. So, if the non-techies want to use a machine at an airport lounge, they can confidently do so.

P. S : I’m currently at the stage of buying a new computer for my personal use and ‘key’-ing this down has helped me in analysing a couple more aspects thereby narrowing down my search further. Therefore I would update it here as & when I buy any new machines in the future.



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