Naps tired of the absolute dominance of Windows, macOS and Linux In the desktop operating system segment, you might like to know that there are some more alternatives to these great platforms.
Testing them is relatively simple and within the reach of any user, and although they have their limitations and drawbacks, each has its own charm. Here is a review of some of the most notable alternative operating systems for PCs and laptops.
It is important that you know that while you can install them from scratch and natively on your computer, perhaps the best thing to “play” with these alternatives is do it through a virtual machine.
Our colleagues at Genbeta explained what to do if you want to use a full Linux distribution (instead of using the Windows Subsystem for Linux), but the process is analogous for these platforms.
The BSD operating systems They are much like the “first cousins” of Linux distributions, and while there are many variations, one of the most well-known is FreeBSD.
Although less known, the different variants of BSD are renowned for their stability and efficiency: These systems are highly regarded for their behavior in the server domain, but it is perfectly possible to exploit them as functional operating systems for end users. Its hardware architecture support is fantastic and it can run on x86 / AMD64, ARM, MIPS, SPARC 64 or PowerPC, among others.
The work on this project is remarkable, and it is possible to transform this platform into center of our software expertise if we are tired of this “trident” formed by macOS (which, by the way, has a legacy from BSD systems), Windows and Linux.
Another system that had some relevance to the rise of commercial Unix was Sun Solaris, who in 2005 ended up giving the operating system code to the Open Solaris project.
When Oracle bought Sun renamed this project to Oracle Solaris and several developers ended up creating a new fork called OpenIndiana, based on Illumos, another side of OpenSolaris.
We can download these two Open source alternatives like Oracle’s own Solaris 11, which we can install and use for free for personal use: if we want to use it commercially, yes, we will have to contact Oracle even though its development was stopped years ago.
In a way, ReactOS is to Windows Server what Linux is to traditional commercial UNIX: it maintains the Windows NT architecture. but it does not use proprietary code and still achieves compatibility with many Windows drivers and applications.
Although logically it does not reach the level of Windows 10 in many areas, it has some striking features, and it is able to run LibreOffice without any problem, Firefox and even Adobe Photoshop.
And if Windows Server has its Open Source heir, something similar happens with the mythical MS DOS, which has in FreeDOS a free and free version of DOS that allows you to run your applications and games perfectly. The project, moreover, has just turned 25, incredible.
It is composed of free software and open source applications with GNU licenses, although there are packages that are part of the project that may not follow this license.
As was the case with MS-DOS, you will need to go back in time now an interface in command console mode, but even in this mode, it is able to run Windows environment like Windows 3.1. Its development is still surprisingly active, so again it can be an interesting alternative to test on your computer directly or via a virtual machine.
Chrome operating system
Google’s operating system designed to keep our entire workflow focus on the browser and the Internet connection is not exclusive to their products.
In fact, Chrome OS – which is based on Linux – can be installed and used in virtually any PC or portable thanks to the Open Source Chromium OS project on which it is based.
One of the easiest ways to try it with CloudReady, a version of Chromium OS ready to be run from a USB key, which will allow its behavior to be evaluated. An interesting alternative that can actually be used to make the decision to buy (or not) a Chromebook.
is descendant of the legendary IBM OS / 2 it is based on the latest development edition of this operating system, and development is ongoing. This project has collected testimonial from eComStation, which has not been updated for a long time and may still be of interest to you if you want to try it out.
It is a 32-bit operating system capable of running 32-bit and 16-bit OS / 2 applications in addition to 16-bit Windows applications and MS-DOS applications.
It is, yes, of a commercial alternative– ArcaOS personal license costs $ 129, while the commercial version costs $ 229
In 1991, a company called Be Inc attempted to elevate your particular revolution in the world of operating systems with BeOS. This system was a small wonder, but it failed to establish itself in a market dominated by Windows.
The idea for this project has survived, however, and Haiku is the heir to this legacy. This Open Source project started to develop in 2001 and today he is still active, as evidenced by the availability of LibreOffice, the Open Source office suite for over a year.
Haiku stands out for its office, with an interface that, even today surprises with its clarity and elegance, and although in some sections the experience is a far cry from that offered by more established operating systems, this platform can end up in store for you more than a (pleasant) surprise.
One of the most curious aspects of these alternatives is that taken up by TempleOS, an operating system programmed from scratch by Terry A. Davis -with a language created by him, HolyC-, who died in 2018 and whose inheritance maintains a notable interest in its design.
The “biblical” background of this lightweight operating system is really curious, but it is an alternative really curious in its interface (640 × 480 pixels, no more than that), its support for 16 colors, and its extensive hyperlink support.
It’s about a unique product in every way, and natively has a flight simulator (limited, of course), a compiler and a kernel, as well as an equally curious game called “After Egypt”.
Another unique operating system, developed by Bell Labs in the 1980s and which took borrowed some of the concepts from UNIX systems.
Its first official version arrived at the beginning of 2015, and this project is famous for its fundamental principle: “everything is a file“, something that makes its file system and graphical user interface very different from what we’re used to seeing.
Although it has some similarities to handling Linux distributions or BSD systems, Plan9 is noticeably different in the way it thinks about process execution, and of course it is about a different and original approach to this field, although he didn’t get much follow-up afterwards. Inferno is derived from it, which you can actually test out in a browser.
This free and open source operating system It was based on the APIs of the legendary Amiga OS 3.1 and he mainly focused on the multimedia field.
There are versions for x86 and PowerPC computers, but there are also versions for the Amiga 1200 e even one for Raspberry Pi. For example, MorphOS is derived from it, another outstanding successor to Amiga OS 3.1.
The project can be downloaded and used independently, but as it happens in Linux there are “distributions” which try to facilitate its installation and start-up. One of the best known is Icaros Desktop, which has a Live version and a Lite version, for example, and which is the one that receives the most monitoring and updates lately.
There are many operating systems that follow the Unix philosophy, but here we have a really original alternative not so much for its interface, similar to that of Linux distributions, for example, but because of the way it is developed.
Redox is programmed in Rust, a programming language particularly appreciated by developers and which tries to apply all its advantages and innovations to the microkernel of the system and its applications.
The system has a own graphical user interface called Orbital and it is constantly evolving. The system also has a curious role in URLs and the use of Rust ensures its maintainers that the majority of “unexpected errors” are eliminated at compile time.
And the list continues
It’s hard to mention all of the operating systems that exist on the market, and although we’ve included some of the most striking we are left in the pipeline projects this could also be of interest to users.
There are surely more that escape us –please include them in the comments– but what is clear is that the variety is surprising in desktop operating systems.
Perhaps none of those present can completely replace Windows, macOS, or Linux that meet the needs of the vast majority of users, but without a doubt can offer an interesting alternative to learn and discover other ways of working and enjoying a PC or laptop.