How to Switch Operating Systems: Linux, Windows, OS X

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Are you thinking about switching Operating Systems? Here are five things to keep in mind prior to making that big move.

  • Stability You want to make sure that the Operating System you are going to use is functional. A buggy Operating System is more or less useless. From my experience, XP is the most practical Windows Operating System to use at the moment. I’m relatively new to Linux, but my favorite distro is Ubuntu, due to the ease of my migration over from XP. MacOS X I know absolutely nothing about, but I have heard that Leopard is somewhat more buggy than previous versions. I haven’t tried it, this is only what I have heard.
  • Compatibility (Hardware) This is mostly for Windows and Linux, as OS X hardware is pretty much controlled by Apple. Check to make sure that your video card, sound card, printer, motherboard, and etc has drivers for, or is compatible with the Operating System of your choice. Some dated hardware will not be supported by some of the newer Operating Systems (speaking mostly to Vista). Make sure that everything you have will work in the future.
  • Support Know where to go for help. You are bound to run into problems whenever doing something for the first time. Find websites or communities with experienced users of the product that you can reach to for help when you need it. Example: When I first installed Ubuntu, the X Server could not detect my graphical hardware no matter what I did. I went to the Ubuntu forums, and I was directed to a program called Envy that automatically setup the X Server for me, and installed the latest nVidia drivers for my video card.
  • Have a Life Line Data is bound to be lost when installing and uninstalling Operating Systems. Make sure that all critical data on your current OS is backed up, and can be restored in your new OS. When in doubt, I recommend partitioning the empty portion of your hard drive. Then install the OS you want, and try it out. This way, your entire system hasn’t been hosed, and you can revert to what you were using before. Dual booting is also a great option for compatibility (hardware and software). My current setup is 370gb Ubuntu and 130gb XP. This is so Ubuntu (my primary OS) has enough room for documents or work-related files, and Windows has enough for programs that have no equivalent in Linux (Good for gamers who want Linux, but don’t want to sacrifice performance with something like WINE or a virtual machine).
  • Can the OS do what you want it to do? A key point for Linux is the eye candy. It’s great, we love it. Eye candy is why a lot of people get Linux over Windows or OSX. But this isn’t practical. If a program you need for school or your work is only available in Windows, and you are running a pure OS X or Linux machine, you need to either find a comparable application, run a virtual machine, or reinstall Windows. This is another reason I strongly recommend not confining yourself to only one Operating System. Different Operating Systems are good at different things. Take advantage of this and use all at your disposal.


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47 thoughts on “How to Switch Operating Systems: Linux, Windows, OS X”

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  3. Great tips. Personally i have been a windows user pretty much forever. Although i remember having macs at school and i had an old Macintosh Classic but back then i never was a big computer person so i hardly used it. But recently i have switched to using my macbook. I have been using OS X for about six months. And im happy with it but im planning on building a new Gaming PC which i will use for game and for video editing so i will switch back to windows. I will be using vista x64 so i can use at least 4gigs of ram I don’t have enough money to buy an expensive MAC Pro like you.

  4. After being a long time Windows foe and Unix friend, I tried Vista on my new laptop and I have to confess, that I fell in love… I never had so much fun working with microsoft software. It’s stable, beautiful and works fine…
    But it depenends on what you wanna do. Gaming on Vista or OSX is shit and developing on Windows is not as easy as in linux or other unix like systems…

    After working very much with computers for about 10 years, I can say that there is no perfect OS, yet and every OS has its pros and cons.

  5. IMO, Linux ticks all of the boxes. I Love Linux for what I can do with it, and how convenient it is to preform day to day things.

    For example I can write a note, read email, RSS, chat on IM, IRC or create a reminder with a touch of a button.

    Also because I’m a developer I can build a 10 file project with one command and never leave my editor (depending on what I’m programming in, it’s usually vim, gedit or eclipse).

    I agree with Chris, it’s a learning curve when changing operating systems. Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s not better than your current solution. There are usually other alternatives to a particular program. Also as with Chris, my move to Linux was slow, I first started to use open source software (like Firefox,, Thunderbird etc) then started to play with FreeBSD on a spare box. Then went to Ubuntu.

    As for future operating systems, Ubuntu 8.04 looks very interesting and can’t wait for it to be released(which is in April).

  6. Quoth the Chris, “A key point for Linux is the eye candy. It’s great, we love it. Eye candy is why a lot of people get Linux over Windows or OSX.”

    Really? I switched to linux because I like to tinker. Because I wanted to try something different. Because I wanted something I could REALLY control. Because I wanted something that I could work with documents I created at university on a BSD system.

    While the eye-candy on linux is quite impressive, it distracts from what’s truly powerful in a linux environment: Absolute control.

    I actually think Compiz is hurting the adoption of linux because people switch for that sole reason and find they can’t do anything else with it. They then switch back and never look again.

  7. I’ve been using Leopard since November, and it’s just as stable as its predecessor, Tiger, plus it has more useful features.

  8. 1. OS/2 Warp
    Had my BBS running on it for 4 years. Saw a blue screen only ones. I was scared like shit when I saw it, but after the reboot it came up again without problems. This sounds weird, considering that people don’t freak out about a system failure (blue screen) nowadays thanks to Windows where you see a blue screen way too often that people believe that it has to be that way.

    2. DR.DOS 6
    Way ahead of the original MS DOS (V5.0 at the time). Some features of DR DOS made it into the MS DOS mode of Windows 95 and 98, 5 years later. Microsoft killed DR DOS via typical MS ugliness. Windows 3.0+ did not run stable on DR.DOS, because some conflicts with DR.DOS emm386 drivers. MS was for sure holding vital information back to enable DR to fix the problem. I wouldn’t even be surprised, if this incompatibility was build into Win 3.x by MS on purpose.

    3. MS DOS 5.0
    Text mode and no multi tasking (multi windows via Quemm and Desqview though hehe).

    WinXP is certainly better than Win95 and Win98, probably not better than WinNT 4.0 (thanks to IBM) and arguably better than Windows 2000. MS was never able to fix some of the fundamental issues that cause so much pain and waste of resources.

  9. Linux, Linux, Linux! I am now 14 and over my entire life I have been using many different computers, many which were “PC’s” (windows), a few macs, and now over the last two years Linux. The main reason I switched to Linux was because of the flexibility. Linux is so much more flexible than windows or OS X, but does not have the language barrier that BSD has. One of the major flexibilities is that you can run Linux on a machine with 128MB of ram. And with Linux there are a lot more new developers. That is why I love Linux.

  10. I run Debian Testing on my main box (cutting edge rolling release, never a need to re-install), and I run Debian Stable on 4 other older PC’s…

    I even run Debian Testing on my Mac iBook G3 (600Mhz, 386 megs of ram)…

    Once you get to feel more at home with Linux, usually after running Ubuntu for a while, running Debian makes sense.

    Got to in the Debian part of the forum, to see the /etc/apt/sources.list of your choice…

  11. I agree with not limiting oneself to just one operating system, when practical. Linux run under Virtual Machine software in Windows (or dual-booting) is a good way to try linux out and deal with personal transition issues. {I also agree with Ubuntu (or Kubuntu for KDE) as a good Linux distribution to try – it’s my personal favorite PC desktop operating system.}

    For Linux systems, having a Windows virtual machine is a great resource for those programs that just don’t have good Linux equivalents. My favorite way to do this is with VirtualBox. VirtualBox’s “seamless windows” feature makes working with Windows apps smoother under Linux.

    I don’t have access to a OS X machine, but I’ve heard good things about Parallels. For someone wanting to save a few dollar$$, VirtualBox is free and works in Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

  12. I borrowed a Windows Vista Home Premium Install Disc from my friend and I wanted to make a legit copy of it. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to. Could somebody please help me out!!!

  13. Personally i find Mac OS a linux (sorta) with a really bad my way or the highway attitude. And i despise them even more with the pompous ad campaign. I know a lot of the stuff there say on them is strictly neglecting a lot of facts.

  14. APPLE SUCK LINUX SUCk windows is best only reason why people like macs better Is becuase they like big fat cock you cant do shite on a mac there hard to use suck at running games only good for music

  15. What I think:
    Linux: Neutral, good stuff, free :D
    Vista: Works for me. Good gaming.
    XP: My first PC. Best OS in this millenium!
    Leopard: Haven’t tried yet but soon. Great GUI. Looks good.

  16. Windows XP is my favorite, but I switched to Vista recently, and I like it =). I don’t like MAC (I think it’s just me) but every time I use one something has to go wrong =(. I tried Ubuntu for a while… liked it, good GUI, much like XP. I do enjoy my Windows and support it 100%. That said, Windows is my fav.

  17. Linux. The free and easy customization allows me to make my computer work for me, not me work for it. I have worked with Vista, XP, 2000, ME (oh god that was bad), 98 and 95. ubuntu is my linux distro as it is the easiest for me. I have not uese the mac enough to give a strong opinion. But I have experienced a lot of the windows distros and still choose Ubuntu 8.04

  18. I’ve only used windows 98, me, and xp, I gotta say xp is my favorite. I’ve also used Ubuntu and Mac OS X (one before leopard), both just once and not for a long time, I tried Ubuntu on my pc using wubi, and used Mac on a cousin’s notebook. I loved both Ubuntu and Mac, and this patriotism feeling I have makes me hate windows xp, but I’m afraid of the software compability and not beeing able to get software that easy.

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  20. I think after watching your top 5 maybe its to to update this video at near future point…

    With such new Computers such as Acer Aspire Revo and newer netbooks that are able to run Nvidia Ion graphics..

    The future is here and its bright so maybe the list needs a update…

    Order needs to be reshuffled.. With release of Windows 7…. and smaller platforms then XBOX 360 and PS3…

    For testing purposes
    1. CD/DVD-RW or a Live CD
    2. Virtual Software
    3. last option should be to partition hard drive

    Top 5 things to consider when switching OS’s
    1. Stability….
    2. Hardware Compatibility…..
    3. Community support….
    4. Back ups / external hard drive
    5. Software solutions… Emulators such as Virtual software / play on linux
    6. Wireless solution and Network Connection
    7. Media Centers

    only reason I added media centers is because of the power of the new Nvidia Ion gpu = 9400m gpu and is making things like
    XBOX 360 and PS3 in near future have to fight for gaming console machines and maybe much more with media centers like XBBS…

    Running full video and Games without choppy results and in consoles much smaller then video game systems…

    Only question that should remain with is do these systems over heat and will it take adding a cooling fan???

    Only time will tell ,but there size is a big advantage..

  21. pls how can i change my linux lipuslite to windows os because am not able to use my printer,scaner and othe modem on my pc preloaded with linux

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