In April 2021 Windows and Mac had a combined market share close to 90% of PC/laptop operating systems globally (Windows ~74% & Mac ~16%). There is much debate around Windows vs Mac, mostly concerning performance, or app compatibility, but in 2021 the real concern is Windows and Mac security and privacy.
Windows 10 features have included 1111 vulnerabilities since 2019. Many of these put users at risk of hacking, identity theft, malware/viruses, scams and numerous other threats, all related to insecure personal information. Recently the leak of Windows source code gave hackers another easy way to discover new vulnerabilities within the original code. Does this mean Mac is the better operating system? Perhaps for security at the moment, but there are ethical considerations to take into account when purchasing Apple products.
Alternative To Windows And Mac
Enter Linux, a free and open source operating system that anyone can review to ensure there is no data collection going on. It wasn’t always the case, but as of 2021, Linux has great compatibility with most apps ranging from video editing to gaming. Linux has a desktop environment very similar to Mac and Windows, and is able to be customised to be more similar to whichever you are more comfortable with. Linux is based on Unix, which Mac is also based on, so they’re not as different as you might think.
In a very similar fashion to the Android Open Source Project, Linux is the base code that can be used as a framework to develop all kinds of Operating Systems. These “forks” from the base Linux code are called distributions, and there are dozens of stable, well-supported distros. What this means is there is a distribution that is right for you. Whether you have a lower spec or older computer, or a powerful gaming PC, there are options that will be able to efficiently use your hardware.
Performance On Linux
In most cases Linux works just as well as Windows or Mac, and in many cases it works better due to the smaller footprint of Linux distributions. This smaller footprint can be attributed to the lack of bloatware and spyware that comes with Windows and Mac. Linux distributions come with just what’s needed to function, meaning no “behaviour reports” are sent in the background, and no “advertising profiles” are created. Anything else you need can be installed through the preinstalled app store filled with free apps.
Currently I am using Pop!OS, which is a distribution focused on hardware compatibility to run well on the maximum amount of machines, and I have had no issues using it on a “Windows” HP laptop. The first thing I did to the laptop was remove Windows and install Linux. Everything works as it should, and I have not spent any time troubleshooting issues as I have with other operating systems I’ve tried in the past. The hardware compatibility focus means that it will run on the vast majority of computers, and works well for all kinds of tasks from gaming to content creation. The lightweight nature of Linux means that there are distributions that will run on tiny computers, such as Raspian on the Raspberry Pi computer.
Downsides To Linux
Linux is not flawless; there are compatibility issues with some computers and parts, meaning time may be required to find solutions to issues that wouldn’t exist with a Windows or Mac computer. This is the sacrifice that sometimes needs to be made in the pursuit of security and privacy. The sacrifice is getting smaller with each passing update from the dedicated teams behind each project, and in my mind, the alternative is not worth considering.
Find out how to get Linux on your computer here