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Windows vs MacOS vs Linux: My Story (and share yours too!)

xtrp profile image Gabriel Romualdo Updated on ・4 min read

This post is originally from my personal website, xtrp.io where you can read about me, check out my projects, and more.

TL;DR

I have used all three operating systems in my lifetime. When I used Windows, it felt too bloated and I missed Bash; my Linux experience was really positive but too many apps did not support the platform. So, I am sticking with MacOS for now. Every developer's needs are different depending on what they are using their machine for. What OS are you using and why?

My First Experience with Windows, My First Experience with a Computer

I was very young when I first used a computer, around three or four years old, and that first machine was a Windows one. My first experience with a computer is very different from many other developers simply because I am very young.

My first OS was Windows 7 back in the late 2000s, and I distinctly remember the shining Windows icon/button on the bottom left corner, shining on hover. I have never seen a world without the Internet, and my first experiences on Windows 7 were mainly on Internet Explorer playing online flash games.

I thought Windows was mediocre when I first started, partly because I had nothing else to compare it too. I frequently experienced crashes and freezes on computers I was using at the time, but I thought that was normal for any computer. I, however, quickly learned how to force shut down my computer and restart, and not to have too many applications open at once.

A few years later, when I was nine years old, I started programming. At that point, Windows 10 had just been released, and I had gotten my first computer of my own, which had a touchscreen (this later became my sole reason for using Windows machines over MacBooks). I remember writing Python code on this first machine, and I was not yet doing anything with the command line or downloading libraries with some sort of package manager.

My Experience With MacOS

After a few years with Windows, I got a used Mac, and started using it as my main machine. One thing I immediately noticed was that it was fast, much faster than anything I had seen before. It never froze or crashed, and everything seemed so smooth and seamless.

Overall, MacOS just felt much faster and more reliable than the Windows machines I had used before. It did not have a touchscreen, and it did not have extra ports like an Ethernet port or anything else, but it just felt much easier to use.

My Experience With Linux (Ubuntu)

After using MacOS for a long time, and also trying out Windows for a considerable amount too, I decided to try Linux. Ubuntu seemed like the best bet for a distribution because it seemed to be the most popular, so I figured out how to configure a bootable USB disk, and dual booted Ubuntu into my machine.

The first thing I noticed was that Ubuntu seemed to have the speed and ease-of-use that MacOS had, but also the developer-friendliness and configuration ability that Windows had. Bash was built-in, just like MacOS, and the APT package manager was really easy to use.

Even now, I think Ubuntu and Linux is the most developer-friendly operating system out there. It is so simple to install packages and frameworks on Linux, and really simple to configure and change settings on your machine.

The dealbreaker for me, which I know is also a dealbreaker for others, is the apps. At the time, Spotify for Ubuntu was barely supported, and many other apps I wanted were not available for Linux.

Why I am Sticking with MacOS

And after all of that, I have decided to stick with MacOS. Here are my reasons:

  • Windows felt too bloated for me. Even after using a fast and modern Windows 10 machine, I realized it is harder to install packages, navigate the command line, and really get things working on Windows.
  • Linux was great, but it did not have the support I would have liked. Not enough people built their stuff to support Linux.
  • MacOS is reliable, and the software is built for the hardware. Apple builds their machines and they build the software in their machines, which means they can optimize the software for the specific hardware, something both Windows and Linux cannot do. You can also download Xcode (for mobile app dev) on MacOS, which is one extra useful thing if I ever want to look into that.

Tell your OS Story!

Please feel free to share your current operating system and your reasons for using it below!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and of course, everyone uses their computer for different things, and everything mentioned is just my personal opinion and experience. Maybe you have multiple machines or VMs with different operating systems, or maybe you are an avid gamer who needs Windows; everyone is different and again, please share your story below.

This post is originally from my personal website, xtrp.io where you can read about me, check out my projects, and more.

Thanks for scrolling.

— Gabriel Romualdo, December 12, 2019

Note: I formerly wrote under my pseudonym, Fred Adams.

Posted on by:

xtrp profile

Gabriel Romualdo

@xtrp

Young web developer (in high school) looking to build something new with code and make a name for myself. More at xtrp.io. Formerly known as Fred Adams.

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I'm not particularly fond of Windows, though I use it out of necessity because it's kind of impossible to game sanely on any other OS. My biggest complaints about it are:

  • Lack of rebindable global hotkeys. Windows is literally the last big platform that does not let you set your own hotkeys for OS-level functionality (like manipulating windows or handling virtual desktops).
  • The VFS layer is a pile of coprolite. It places an absurd number of limitations on how you can access files in the name of 'compatibility' with software that most people are never going to use, and is horrendously slow compared to BSD, Linux, and macOS.
  • The console host borders on being unusable, and the new Windows Terminal Micorsoft is working on is almost as bad.
  • PowerShell lacks a large number of features that have been considered standard anywhere else for a command shell for decades, most notably the complete lack of an escape character (you have to quote anything that has a special character in it, you can't just escape individual problem characters).
  • The lack of certain features that any sane person would want to use in the Home edition (like pausing updates) is a constant point of irritation.
  • You should not need to completely reboot for every single effing update, even if you want to insist on maintaining consistency of the system components.
  • Binary log and configuration files.

I use Linux on a daily basis for work and almost everything except gaming, though I won't try to claim it's perfect. Biggest complaints with Linux are:

  • It has a tendency to just start behaving oddly when it runs into hardware issues. Windows and macOS at least have the decency to crash 'cleanly' (that is, they definitively crash) in such cases, or at least tell you that something is wrong.
  • Hardware support is often spotty (fun fact, Linux actually has to claim to be Windows on some systems when talking to the system firmware just to get it to behave correctly). This isn't entirely a problem with Linux itself though, as the hardware vendors are just as guilty of not even trying to support it (see the example of the USB 3.0 Displaylink devices for a good example of that).
  • Many of the big name distributions make some pretty big assumptions about how you might want to user your system, and this can have a seriously negative impact on usability for some people.

I've not actively used macOS myself, so I can't really comment on it other than expressing disbelief about the complete lack of configurability in some cases (TimeMachine, I"m looking at you).

 

Started on Windows XP, left at Vista and have been on macOS ever since. Having said that every now and then I spin a linux VM and see if the UX is enough for me to change. So far no luck but if you are interested in exploring other Linux distros for fun I recommend Manjaro Linux manjaro.org/.

 

Gnome desktop environment for the win. Manjaro is great!

 

For me I use all three:

We use MacOS at work so of course my work computer is Mac.
My personal laptop has Windows 10
I then have a seperate laptop with Kali
I also have a bootable USB which I use on the go.

In the recent updates I have found my MacOs to be so much more buggy than my Windows 10. I have also with creators update installed bash on my windows 10 which facilitates a lot of stuff. I think windows 10 with some tinkering can become really nice to use even by cl. I previously installed openSSH on it and it made my life so much easier for server management.

Kali of course is for all my pen-testing ans security related works. The only issue is the support for recent apps which don't always come compatible.

 

I've not really had stability problems with Windows since the days of Windows 95, though I went NT4->2000->XP->10 and barely used Vista, 7 or 8.

I don't think it's particularly good interface - it has elements of XP and of 10, and doesn't know whether it's all about "apps" or "programs"... and I don't like supporting proprietary software. I keep a Windows installation on my desktop for certain games, and that's all it's good for, really. As a host for games, it's great. Now WSL has come along and given us a working shell, it's also passable as a development machine when you use it as a browser/ssh client combo and connect to a real computer.

MacOS is quite similar, but more buggy than Windows. I know a lot of people would disagree with me there, but MacOS is much worse than Windows in terms of usability and glitchiness.

All operating systems are awful, and they're also really difficult to build, so awful is also reasonable.

I've used some linux distro or other (and various BSDs) for longer than I've used MacOS, and the difference is night and day. One system "just works", the other is made by Apple.

 

I can very much relate to your experience and it's quite similar to mine.
I'm using Windows ever since and recently got the opportunity to work with macos for six months now.

My personal experience so far is that Windows has infact the most sophistictated UI when compared to MacOS and the main Linux contenders (KDE, Gnome, Xfce). MacOS window management is quite sloppy (apps often get stuck in the background and don't regain focus) and as you said MacOS IS BUGGY. Software Installation (especially since 10.15) feels like a mess with tons of security questions and pop ups. I just love the straigthforward approach of Microsoft Windows. When Windows 10 was freshly released, bloatware was a big issue but thank god they heavily decreased the amount of bloatware in recent releases of Windows 10.

Windows also wins when it comes to system speed compared to MacOS, simply compare a clean install boot up and you will be amazed.

 
 

I really share some of your opinions, I love MacOS because of it's clean UI(Although some Linux distros also do have a clean UI) and awesome multi-tasking.
However, I feel that since the only way to get OSX legally is to buy a mac or macbook, it is way to expensive. I've been using MacOS for quite some time but I think I'm going to switch to Linux.

 

"Not enough people built their stuff to support Linux." correction "Not enough people -that build for MacOS or Windows- built their stuff to support Linux." After buying a chemistry book you don't complain that there is not enough architecture on it; for Linux there are plenty of SW, just not the same as you liked in Windows and MacOS. None complain about all the SW that runs on Linux but not in other OSs.

And about support, yes, nobody will "support" you, Linux users will just help you to support yourself; I've never seen Windows or MacOS formus at the same level of Linux, not even close; nor IRC channels nor documentation, tell me where do I find something even close to: Arch's wiki, Gentoo docs, LFS handbook (if you can call it that), man pages, mailing lists, bug trackers, etc. And if you just want to call someone to fix things for you, just pay to RedHat, Canonical, or someone else, just like with Windows and MacOS.

"and the software is built for the hardware", there is a lot of HW that works perfect in Linux, are you telling me that you can pick any HW and just run MacOS? 90% of the HW runs great in Linux while 1% of the HW does the same in MacOS.

"optimize the software for the specific hardware" that's old news, from when Apple used CPUs designed by them with Motorola; nowdays they use the same Intel CPUs that everyone uses and the same GPUs, SSD, RAM, etc. all the same standard HW; only touchpads and maybe screens. And about optimization, you are free to make your own kernel and even compile everything for your particular PC, you even have distros designed for that. Long live Gentoo!

I used MS from DOS 6.0 to Windows XP and some Win7 on the side; I moved to Linux and never looked back. My Linux machine is mine, not designed for a target customer but designed by me, for me. And the level of customization and the system limitations are mine, not imposed for someone else, it's me who doesn't know how to improve it yet. To me, that freedom (besides the fact that all other OSs steal data) is unbeatable.

 

And about support, yes, nobody will "support" you, Linux users will just help you to support yourself

Tell that to average user who plays computer games, browses on the Web and generally uses PC for very simple things without understanding terminal, package managers, desktop environments and so on. Linux has come a long way, but it's still oriented mainly towards geeks. And average user in most cases doesn't care about the customization.

 

I kinda agree, my mother and sister use Linux and they have no clue about computers, I installed to my mother and my sister installed hers on her own, you don't need to be a "nerd" I would also argue is more of a nerd thing than a geek thing; they use Firefox, Libreoffice, watch movies and play music and that's it. For them is perfect, no viruses (they exist on Linux but if they manage to be dangerous, usually don't because they can't, have a shelf life of days because the vuln that enable them will promptly patched), no imposed updates, no registration and they don't need a USD2.000 PC. And after about 2 yrs runs like the first day, not sluggish at all, no reinstall needed. Of course if you want to explore and get the full potential, of course nerd away. But is not required.

Even games are running more and more and, by the way, the average user doesn't play games, my mother and sister are closer to an average user browser+office+media is the avg user.

Of course, as I said Linux has come a long way and it's not that it's too hard for average user (there are many user-friendly distros like Ubuntu, Mint, elementaryOS and so on), but the reality is that most users don't like changes and they rather stay with preinstalled systems. I hope that situation will change and that we'll see more people moving to Linux.

 

I have no choice if I get start develop iOS applications.

When I was learning iOS development on my laptop that installed a Hackintosh. I met lots of black screen and issues in the installation process, all of that need to fix one by one. Struggle but enjoy it.

 

It's exactly the same thing for me. I had a Windows laptop and it was my first laptop which I started using. It was during my school days where I use a laptop 💻 generally for watching movies, browsing the internet.

Then the mac came.

When my windows laptop became too old, I researched for getting a new laptop for myself to start my development career. It was 2012 and ended up with Macbook Pro. Once I started using it, I can't go back. It's the best suitable for me to do the development. Also, I am a iOS developer, and I need to use the Mac for the job.

P.S. Still I have my first Mac, upgraded it to 16Gigs ram and 1 TB SSD. It still works like a charm. Though I have a work laptop which is latest 15 inch MacBook pro, I can't stop using my first laptop which thaught me coding.

 

My first OS was Windows XP back in 2004 / 2005. I have moved to Windows 7 pretty close after it became available and used it until 2013 when I discovered Linux (my first distro was Mint).

After that I had dual boot but mostly used Linux towards the beginning of 2017 when I finished my first commercial project for the client and bought MacBook Pro 2010 (the only experience with macOS I had before that was on the VM and few minutes I have spent in a store with Apple products).

Since then I'm using macOS as my primary OS and Linux only via virtual machine when I'm working with Vagrant.

 

I use Manjaro as my every day OS. Absolutely love it. The Arch repository's have anything that you can't get through Manjaro's package manager. Pacman is the bomb and when your backing up all your stuff with things like grsync and timeshift then you really have nothing to worry about. I can't imagine going back to windows for anything. I don't like mixing in gaming with my main computer because it's too distracting but I have a windows computer that's my game computer and that's all I use it for. With that said, Linux has a ton of great gaming options but it isn't 100% perfect. I've tried Ubuntu, PopOS, Mint and have even done a few arch installs on a virtual machine just to say I did it. But Manjaro is really the OS for me. I imagine myself doing a deep dive on Mac if I ever get a Mac work computer. As a Team Lead at Lambda I help students on Zoom all the time who have Mac's and I've found that I know a lot of little nuances about using a Mac than many of the Mac users I'm helping. Which I think is kind of funny. Learning how to use Mac by helping people debug code on Mac without ever owning one.

 

I use Windows at home because of games, used Linux at work and now I'm using macOS at work. Linux was fun because I can customize it however I wanted, but at some point I was tired of its customization abilities and I wanted my OS to just work and have nice UI on top of it, so macOS it is. I'd probably stick to Windows at home for games and buy a Mac for everything else.

 

My intro to computers started with Windows 95 when I was in high school. It was a family computer so I couldn't change OS or anything like that. Around 2001 I got my own computer running Windows ME, quickly realized how terrible that was and switched to Windows 2000.

Shortly after that, I went to Windows XP and also started playing around with Linux, mostly Redhat 7.2 (before RedHat enterprise or fedora) and mandrake/mandriva but constantly had issues and wasn't sure how to fix. In 2004/2005 I got my first mac and loved it, although was a bit annoyed that back then (PowerPC days) that there was no real support for a lot of PC based apps.

Until around 2013 I mostly used windows for work and mac for personal, but then decided to go fully into MacOS. That lasted until Summer 2018 when I really started getting fed up with Apple and switched to Linux full time, mostly using Ubuntu or a derivative.

I'm currently toying with the idea of going back to Apple, but really struggle to justify the massive price tag.

 

Let's based our income on open source and pay apple to use Macs and advertise that. Make sense!

Linux cannot be optimizer for hardware. Mate, your servers and all Internet using Linux. Damn!

And software, which software is reliable from apple which you can use for programming? All devs tools are free on Linux. Your server using Linux, you should use Linux

 

all Internet using Linux.

Windows Server.

 

While Windows certainly IS a bloated mess, I find that MacOS just holds my hand too much. So I use Ubuntu on desktop and ChromeOS (it's what I have that isn't Windows) for mobile. Chrome OS is ALMOST close enough to Linux for development, except the whole "Wayland" thing... Ubuntu is definitely where it's at; everything I use is either available on Ubuntu or as a web client...

 

Windows is great and easy to work i prefer windows.

 

What a great read! Fred!! 😍

 

I love your site( xtrp.io) theme,
is it free or paid. Please, can you share the theme link?

 

Thank you so much, that's really nice of you to say. I actually built the site from scratch myself back in September with the styles and MVC framework holding it all together, and have been updating it ever since with new features and designs. The source code is copyrighted and not available for reuse, simply because I wanted an exclusive design for xtrp.io and xtrp.io only.

Again, I may write more about how I built this site from scratch in the future, but for now it is not available as a theme and cannot be used by anyone else.

Thank you again for checking it out!

— Gabriel

 

Mac is really bloated and expensive. Linux all the ways

 

Dos -> Windows -> Linux (1998)
Never looked back really. I do keep a Windows partition for games. But as a developer I'd rather have a full toolbox not a builder bob one (apple)