Linux vs Mac: Choosing The Best Alternative To Windows

linuxvsmacAre you fed up with viruses, security holes and unfinished products of the Windows platform? You may be ready for a Mac or Linux computer. What does each offer, and which is right for you?

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Macintosh Cool

In the Windows world, hardware is made by a variety of vendors. Apple builds the Mac hardware, as well as the operating system and key utilities like email and calendar. This consistency provides a uniform user experience, and allows the company to tightly control quality of manufacturing. Macs typically crash less than Windows machines due to software or hardware glitches. Another benefit of this approach is software security: It is rare for a Mac user to get a computer virus, partly because virus creators target Windows due to its larger share of the market.

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Design Strength

Another strong appeal for Mac owners is that Steve Jobs put a lot of work into design. Macs simply look much better than most boxy Windows machines. Because of Apple’s commitment to elegant design, and strong graphic software, Macs have a loyal base among creative professionals like graphic artists and photographers. This has helped to develop the cult-like following the company enjoys to this day.

Drawbacks to the Mac platform include:

  • Less software available. The Windows Store boasts more that 50,000 apps while the Mac App Store only has around 14,000.
  • More expensive than Windows and Linux. Also, lower end Macs are difficult to upgrade later down the road.
  • Technical prowess has subsided. Not that many Macs have dedicated GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) anymore, which does not help gamers.

Powerful and Free Linux

Probably the best thing about Linux is that it’s free and open source. In reality, even free software has built in costs. Your time and energy has value. Still, free software is great if you have a limited budget, or don’t want to get locked into proprietary programs.

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One of the strengths of Linux is there are many distributions you can choose from including Ubuntu, Solaris, Debian, Gentoo and Slackware. On the other hand, this can also be a challenge because there are so many choices.

Ubuntu has done a good job of making their look, feel and functionality consistent across desktop, mobile and tablet devices. It is one of the most popular Linux distributions, first gaining ground with individual users, and then expanding to organizations.

Multiple Software Options

Linux Mint is another popular version of Linux for desktops. It is the most widely used operating system on home computers after Windows, Mac OS and Ubuntu. It is known to be safe because of the steady-as-she-goes approach to updates: New versions are only released every six months, and then are supported for the next 18 months.

What are some of the disadvantages of Linux? Well, you have to learn Linux! Many people grew up with Macs and/or PCs, but not Linux. However, with today’s advanced GUIs and plenty of free tutorials and videos, it is not difficult to get started.

Another drawback is that as an open source product support is somewhat patchier. You can usually find the answer to your question, it may just take longer.

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What? You still need your Windows security blanket? If you still can’t break away from Windows, don’t worry. You can run Windows on the Mac using Parallels and Bootcamp. Likewise, you can run it on Linux using VMWare. But if you are ready to chart a new course away from Windows, both Linux and Mac are worth exploring.