Operating System Overview: Quick Notes on the Biggest

Have you ever been talking to another geek, and they mentioned on Operating System you hadn’t heard about, or you just wanted to prove how geeky you are by listing a large variety of operating systems and its variants? Well, this post will help you fill your brain with OS’s.

I won’t be covering every operating system, nor every variant under the sun, but rest assured, if you learn this list, you will have the essentials locked in that brain of yours.


Dell LinuxLinux isn’t just one operating system, though they all have the same core and are very similar in other respects, the operating system is broken down into hundreds of customized distributions.

This has been both a strength and a weakness for the operating system as it doesn’t have to be able to do everything for everyone, but it has also created brand confusion and limited the ability for outsiders to get started with the operating system.

RedHat LinuxRed Hat
Red Hat Linux is the first Linux distro that I was introduced to. It has since been discontinued, but is still considered rather popular. It has since become merged with Fedora. Fedora, unlike Red Hat, doesn’t have the same official commercial support that Red Hat had.

A general purpose distribution sponsored by Novell, openSUSE is usually on the short list for new users getting into Linux. openSUSE has a strong community, and in its more recent versions, it has licensed legal MP3 support from Fluendo.

Currently, one of the strongest Linux distributions, due to its community support, ease of use, and backing by Dell, Ubuntu has been seen as the first version of Linux that normal home users can use and understand.

The next version, 7.10, will be released October 18th, and it includes many improvements to help computer users that aren’t operating system savvy, get off Windows and join Ubuntu’s install base.

This is the version of Linux I currently use at home, in part because of the great community, and also because it is easy enough for my wife to use.

One of my friends would hate me if I didn’t mention Gentoo Linux, as it is his favorite distribution.

Gentoo is known as a modular, portable, flexible operating system. This, like many other distributions, is tailored for the more hard core geek, who is willing to mess up his computer and learn complex systems, rather than having things work easily.


Before Linux, there was Unix. An operating system that is still widely used in enterprise server environments.

At my last corporate workplace we used HP-UX on a bunch of servers. If you couldn’t tell by its name, it is Hewlett Packard’s Unix version.

HP-UX scales to upwards of 256 processors, 1 TB of main memory and 32 TB as a file system. Specs that are unheard of in today’s home computing market.


BSDBSD stands for Berkeley Software Distribution and it is a derivative of UNIX. There are a few well known open source versions of the BSD operating system which include FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD. Though the operating system is very much like Linux, many fans of BSD, hate the comparison.

The biggest open source BSD distribution, FreeBSD lives up to its namesake. With its devilish logo, it is easily recognizable, and has a large community backing.


Microsoft WindowsThe Microsoft operating system that made Bill Gates the richest man in the world for several years.

Windows XP
Recently replaced by Windows Vista, many companies, and users still have a big place in their heart for Windows XP. The XP was to stand for eXPerience, and its release in 2001, was considered a large leap from Windows 98se and Windows ME, bringing many features only seen in the business oriented Windows 2000, to the home user.

Windows VistaWindows Vista
The current operating system being pushed on everyone is Windows Vista. With a glassy design, a second sidebar containing many gadgets, Windows Vista was supposed to have wide appeal, and be one of the most stable, and beautiful Windows experiences to date.

Many feel Microsoft has failed in their goals, and that Windows XP, with the current amount of updates, is far more stable and reacts better on lower end machines.

Windows 7
Formerly codenamed Blackcomb, and then Vienna, Windows 7 is expected to be released sometime in 2010. There isn’t much known about this next operating system yet, as Microsoft tries to stay quiet and focus on marketing Windows Vista.

Mac OS

Mac OSWhat is considered one of the first operating systems to use a mouse interface, the Mac OS has seen a huge resurgence lately, due to the efforts at Apple. The operating system has become much more refined, and some would say the features added have been revolutionary, and required others to copy the best features over to their own operating systems.

OS X 10.4
The current version of Apple’s operating system is OS X 10.4.10, known better as Tiger. It has a simple, but effective interface, including a dock, where you can place a variety of icons, and both a glassy and brushed metal looking interface.

OS X 10.5
OS X 10.5, also known as Leopard, is the next operating system to come from Apple, and it will contain many enhancements, to the dock, included software, and overal appearance. One of the more notable features is the built in backup utility, Time Machine, which allows you to flow backwards through a folder’s history to restore lost or deleted files.

It is expected out sometime this month. Most people are saying closer to the last week of October.

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