What operating systems do you run?

In the past I used to prattle a lot about “switching” – a concept that nowadays seems silly archaic and outdated. In those days most of us were tied to a single computer – one, singular piece of hardware that was our window to the internet. Chances were that that particular piece of hardware was running a Microsoft operating system, and that the only way you could get online was using Internet Exploder via dialup connection. And it was bad for everyone. The Redmond software giant was a big bad dude – it would throw it’s weight around, embrace and extend new technologies into oblivion, and generally ruin good things for everyone. Funny how things have changed.

Microsoft is a shadow of it’s former self – it’s only scary asset is the huge patent war chest they still use to bully smaller companies. Other than that, they are all bark and no bite these days. Their dominance in the OS market is slowly fading away, and their attempts to enter new markets are laughable. Bing is the default search engine for Internet Explorer but despite that, most people don’t use it or even know what the hell it is. Windows phones, once dominating the smart phone market are now not even relevant. Granted, they are still going strong but they are no longer the movers and shakers of our industry the way they used to be. Even their dominance in the OS market is slowly fading. And it’s not because people don’t use Windows anymore. They do, but they also use other things now.

In the last few years we have seen a phenomenal explosion and proliferation of mobile computers – laptops, notebooks, tablets and smart phones. In this day and age, most people are not tied to a single hunk of hardware hard wired to their desk with spools of tangled cables. Just about everyone owns more than one computing device. Some own more, some own less – depending on relative wealth and resources. But we almost always have to say “computers” (plural) rather than “a computer” when discussing an individuals computational arsenal. At the very least, it is a traditional computer (usually laptop of some sort) and a smart phone – both running different operating systems and existing in different software environments. This is something healthy.

Microsoft’s software monoculture and stranglehold on the OS market was broken not by a revolution, but by the gradual force of progress. Giving up on a OS you know is hard, but nowadays people just don’t have to do that. They just get new systems, but they never need to give up on the old ones – and this is something wonderful. When I teach my class, and see the glowing Apple symbols staring back at me from a large number of desks, it brings a smile to my face. Not because I’m an Apple fanboi, or anything. It’s because this is a sign of health. My classrooms are heterogeneous system now – there are machines there are machines there running OSX, Vista, Win7, iPads and Android Tablets. It’s a healthy mix. When I started this gig, it was more or less safe to assume that every single student in the classroom was running Windows XP – it was vile, incestuous cesspit of stagnation. What’s worse, anything that did not look like XP was foreign, strange and scary. Today, people are actually used to platform hopping. They do it all the time – they jump from their Windows PC to their MacBook, from their MacBook to their iPad and so on.

In the past I always advocated platform agnosticism – not getting married to a single OS, but being proficient in all of them. Back then only us geeks had the luxury of living that lifestyle. Now it is a mundane reality for just about everyone.

Just to show you I’m not lying I took a tally of the machines I hop between on a daily basis:

  1. The Gaming Rig with Vista 64 bit
  2. MacBook Pro with OSX Lion
  3. Dell Latitude D830 laptop with Kubuntu 10.4 (LTS)
  4. iPhone 4 with iOS 5

This does not include legacy boxes that mostly sit in the corner, unless I’m in the mood for experimenting with them (like my venerable eMac running Tiger) and virtual machines (I have two instances of Win XP – on on the linux, one on the mac, and a stripped down debian instance I sometimes use on the gaming rig as a test server).

On my average day I hop between 4 different operating systems, without missing a beat. Hell, just this minute – as I’m writing this post, I’m on my Kubuntu laptop, I have a WinXP running in Virtual Box in the background, and my iPhone on my desk next to me. More or less, I’m using 3 different OS’s simultaneously.

How about you? What operating systems do you run? How many different devices do you usually hop between on your average day?

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31 Responses to What operating systems do you run?

  1. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Well, I use Windows Vista at home, as well as Windows 7 (my gf PC). I have an old box running Ubuntu. A laptop on Windows XP (at work too, by the way). Both our telephones run on Android. Most of these computers are more or less in sync, thanks to Dropbox and XMarks.

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  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Alphast:

    TIL about Xmarks. Thanks. :)

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  3. Nathan UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    My work computer runs OpenSUSE Linux. I have a Windows XP VM running on it for Outlook 2003, Finisar XGig analyzer, and other stupid software. I also have a work netbook, also running OpenSUSE Linux (with LXDE instead of KDE).

    At home I have a desktop running, you guessed it, OpenSUSE. I also have a fileserver running OpenSUSE and a web server running Fedora (I wanted to change it up a little). My router is actually an old Pentium III machine which boots off of a CF card and runs OpenBSD.

    My phone runs Android. My two PS3s run gameOS, but my original-run 60gb that I’ve adamantly avoided upgrading the firmware on also runs PSUbuntu.

    I use Dropbox, Evernote, and Firefox Sync to keep these computers up to date. I also have a lot of my config files in subversion.

    I have actually never owned an Apple product.

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  4. Victoria UKRAINE Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I have Windows 7 on my PC at home, then there is older Macbook Pro with Snow Leopard and Macbook Air with Lion.

    I also have iPad and iPhone with iOS 5. I switched from Windows Mobile HTC phone to iPhone this summer but I still miss some of the apps that do not have exact analogs .

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  5. Rob UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    What I have:

    1. Custom built gaming rig: Windows 7 Pro
    2. 13″ Macbook Air: OSX Lion
    3. Dell D830 (Work laptop): Windows XP Pro (not by choice)
    4. iPhone 4: iOS 5

    I also have a few other PCs and laptops with various flavors Linux installed to them, but right now I’m in the middle of moving so all of them are turned off and not being used. I’ve also got various Virtual Box installs of Linux, Windows XP, and BSD installed on my desktop and Macbook Air.

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  6. at work i am forced to use this crappy-apple-foo (iMac with OSX to code for i-Devices)
    At home currently i have my mediacenter-nettop that allways runs some kind of linux (although switching the distribution very often currently i am playing around with puppy linux, most of the time its something debian).
    Then i have my server, far away, running ubuntu and serving g33ky.de.
    My Gaming-PC ‘WOPR’ runs nowadays 50:50 some kind of linux and Win7 (yes, there are more games that run on linux than one would think)
    My arm-netbook (Toshiba AC100) runs Android 2.2., but will switch to 3.0 in near future. My smartphone runs Android 2.3. (Motorola Milestone/Droid)

    So in real usage, my server/netbook/phone all run all the time, my mediaserver only when i watch some movie, my gaming-PC when i’m at home and my girlfriend isn’t (meaning mostly mo-fr 20:00-00:00)

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  7. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Gaming rig and main computing box (desktop) running XP
    Underpowered laptop running Ubuntu
    College computers are either Windows PCs or Macs
    CS department lab computers are dual-booting XP and some flavour of Linux.

    Aside from those guys I’m still pretty ‘traditional’ – no tablet or smartphone, so I mostly just use the XP box under my desk. ‘Tis not a great amount of variety, but I’m not married to any OS in particular.

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  8. jambarama UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    My gaming rig is still XP, which needs to change. I bought Just Cause 2 about a year ago, not realizing it requires Vista or newer. Laptop just went back to debian with xfce because unity sucks. Server is vanilla debian (net installs rule) because it doesn’t have or need X.

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  9. icebrain PORTUGAL Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    Luke Maciak wrote:

    @ Alphast:
    TIL about Xmarks. Thanks.

    Xmarks is nice, especially for the open tabs syncing. It lets me open a bunch of links from Google Reader or Hacker News on my Windows 7 desktop which runs Chrome and then continue reading them on my Debian laptop which runs FF 7 without having to fuss with bookmark folders and such.

    One thing that can’t be denied, despite the valid fears about the “cloud”, is that moving what used to be done locally to hosted solutions, including web apps, as eased immensely the OS agnosticism.

    Personally, I’m still divided between the two worlds, but most people I know could use the Hurd for 90% of all of their computing activities – particularly not work related – as long as it had a browser with good support for new web technologies.

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  10. peterix Google Chrome Linux says:

    I have Arch Linux on my desktop, along with Windows 7 and 7 virtual machines – 2x win xp, 7, various ubuntu versions.
    Arch and the VMs gets the SSD and are used for work, Windows the big HDD to store all the game data and is used for games that refuse to run under wine.

    The laptop runs whatever I feel like running or whatever is the latest release of some random linux distro I’m checking out. It even had OSX on it for a while, but that didn’t like the hardware and crashed a lot.

    The phone is running some generic Nokia phone OS (never bothered to check). It can even sent an SMS!

    As I’m never too far from a powerful desktop machine, it’s what I end up using 99% of the time.

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  11. copperfish Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    Windows XP on my work laptop.
    Ubunto 11.04 on my home laptop and desktop.
    Android Gingerbread on my Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Tab.

    Firefox sync between all of them and Dropbox and Google Docs to sync all files everywhere.

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  12. copperfish Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    Of course I meant Ubuntu not Ubunto ;)

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  13. MrJones2015 Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Windows 98 First Edition on my computer
    Windows Me on my laptop

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  14. s1n UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux says:

    I have been using Linux since 2000. I have a Gentoo desktop, an Arch file server, and an IPCop firewall. I have a netbook running Arch and a regular laptop that my wife runs Vista (her laptop). I have 2 Linux machines at work and a Windows XP email machine (5 feet of horizontal screen space). Both my wife and I have Android phones.

    All of the desktops have power to spare (14 cores between 3 desktop machines), while the laptops are meant for mobility (10″ and 14″). Everything is kept in sync via my file server, which runs an SSD for the OS and a couple of 2TB disks (4 currently).

    The router, fileserver, printer, a spare machine, and various equipment are stored in a closet in a half-sized rack. I installed network cabling in each room for easy access.

    My wife loves this setup until she catches me in the middle of upgrades and something suddenly critical is not working (cups seems to break after ever update).

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  15. Morghan UNITED STATES Safari Linux says:

    Phone = Android 2.2
    Tablet = Android 3.2.1
    Laptop = Win 7 Pro 64
    Toughbook = Debian Lenny (Fluxbox)
    Server = Slackware 11
    PS3 = Whatever it runs by default (updated when I bought it.)

    VMs include two copies of XP Pro, Ubuntu (forget the version, current LTS) with KDE 3.5 (I don’t care much for the Vista-like feel of KDE 4), XFCE & Fluxbox, Debian Unstable, Fedora, Gentoo, DOS, Windows 98SE, Windows 3.11, A really old version of Apple’s OS

    There are also quite a few embedded system, all of which run Linux, most of which run the ARM version.

    Don’t have a gaming rig anymore, too much expense when I mostly game on PS3 or play classics that’d work on a decade old PC.

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  16. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Nathan:

    You really do seem to like OpenSuSE. I think I only briefly used this distro like one time. What would be it’s best selling points.

    Also, props for running Ubuntu on PS3. A lot of people were really pissed when they removed the custom OS option from the firmware. I think there is a valid jailbreak out there now though – a direct result of that nasty update.

    @ Victoria:

    Wow, really? A windows phone? I think you are the first person I have ever seen who have used a windows phone. Microsoft actually makes more money shaking down HTC, Samsung, Motorola et all for android related patent licenses, than actually selling their own phones. :P True story.

    @ Rob:

    Hehe! I love it how tons of companies are still running XP. We are doing the same thing because it is just too much hassle. We wouldn’t touch Vista with a 10 foot pole, and very large number of our machines simply can’t run Win7 due to being antiques. But as long as we are able to keep them running, the powers that be are not very keen on upgrading the hardware. :P

    @ Dr, Azrael Tod:

    The comment about the girlfriend gave me this mental image of you madly scrambling to get the gaming PC off, upon hearing your girl entering the house and then blurting out “I’m here honey, totally not playing any video games or anything!”. ;)

    @ Matt`:

    No smartphone? How do you live without a smartphone? Do you still use a flip phone like my dad? (I kid, I kid!)

    @ jambarama:

    Just Cause 2 is a blast for about 2-3 hours, and then it just becomes bleh…

    @ icebrain:

    Wow, tab syncing sounds amazing. Then again, I’m not sure if I want the cloud to know about my pr0n tabs. :P

    @ peterix:

    I’m quite amazed to find two people in this very thread who don’t use smart phones. Just take the plunge man – join us, join us in the smart phone world! You will never look back. ;)

    @ copperfish:

    Well, you never know with linux – Ubonto might as well be some Ubuntu fork or something. :P

    @ MrJones2015:

    You sir are trolling, I’m 99.9% sure of it. If not, please explain yourself. How a fine gentleperson like yourself could run such antique systems. Also, how do you run ME? I never managed to keep that thing going for longer than 4 hours till the first occurrence of irreversible BSOD on boot.

    @ Morghan:

    My gaming rig is actually getting pretty old by normal gaming rig standards but I can still play almost everything on high. The upgrade treadmill has been slowing down in the last 5-6 years and recently ground to almost a complete stop. Gaming rigs are no longer so expensive, and difficult to keep up to date as it was in the last two decades.

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  17. Victoria Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    @ Luke Maciak:

    Funny thing is, that HTC phone worked really well, considering I smashed it on the pavement and nothing broke down. Now, if that happened to iPhone… bits and pieces :)

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  18. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Victoria:

    My blackberry storm had a nice spider web crack taking up half of it’s scree, but still worked perfectly well. All these non iPhone phones tend to be pretty robust. :P

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  19. …more like me having better things to do when she’s back at home.
    But since she currently studies in a different city, she lives most weeks monday to friday there and i am alone in our flat.

    Not like there was ever any time when i would NOT have had something better to do then gaming.. but sometimes resisting is harder then other times. :D

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  20. Nathan Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    Luke Maciak wrote:

    @ Nathan:
    You really do seem to like OpenSuSE. I think I only briefly used this distro like one time. What would be it’s best selling points.

    I don’t think OpenSuSE is demonstrably better or worse than any other distros, except for possibly its excellent KDE integration/support. I’m just quite familiar with it. Every time I go to provision a new box I think “is it time for me to learn Arch/Puppy/Mandriva/Gentoo?”, and the answer is usually “no, maybe next time”.

    It’s a big distro on a regular release schedule with a large community, a comprehensive software repository, and I’m familiar enough with its quirks that I can spend most of my time ignoring it and Getting Stuff Done.

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  21. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Dr, Azrael Tod:

    Heh, I figured as much. That said, I once knew a guy who had a “secret xbox” hidden in the basement because his wife did not approve of the hobby. He also had a cover story “thoughtful gift” wrapped in some nice paper so if his wife got suspicious he could be like “well, I was planning to give this to you on [the next upcoming appropriate occasion] but you found me out as I was wrapping it up”. :P

    @ Nathan:

    It’s kinda like me and Ubuntu then. Every time I’m like “hey, maybe I could try something different like Gentoo this time”. And then I end up installing either Ubuntu or vanilla debian anyway.

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  22. ST/op DENMARK Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    Phone: Android 2.3
    Netbook: Debian (sid) [xfce]
    Laptop: Debian (whizzy) [gnome]
    Desktop1: Win7 64 / Debian (whizzy) [gnome]
    Desktop2: Mint 9 LTS [lxde, gnome] / Debian (sid) [kde]
    Server: Fedora 14 [headless]
    Laptop: Win7 64 / Ubuntu current LTS
    Desktop: Debian (whizzy) [gnome]
    Server: RHEL 6

    Several computers also run VMs with: WinXP, Solaris, BSD and probably others…

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  23. mcai8sh4 UNITED KINGDOM Google Chrome Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    My current setups are -
    XP machine
    Win7 Machine
    Win95 machine (I know, but it runs one of my CNCs)

    Ubuntu with wmii, had to get rid of Unity
    Xp Machine (used to be for games, now rarely gets booted)
    NAS running some sort of linux
    HP Proliant DL360 server running Ubuntu server (This is just a toy at the minute)
    Ipad – iOS5
    Android phone
    IBM PS/1 – running dos for the good old days!

    I also have virtual machines set up mainly XP, vista, win7 and some linux distros that I’ve sampled.

    That’s about it. Sadly I don’t have a Mac… I want one, but can’t seem to make myself part with the money. Not sure what I’d do with one, and I’ve never really used OSX… maybe one day.

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  24. Lucas ITALY Opera Linux says:

    1: Debian Squeeze XFCE
    + Windows 7 in other partition
    2: Slackware 13 Fluxbox
    3: XP
    4: Android
    5: does and iPod count?
    No VMs because I don t like to run VMs (for no rational reason).
    I ve been an OS nomad for some time, changing at least a couple of times a year. Lately I ve ALMOST settled with the OS, but have been changing desktop environment more often than is healthy

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  25. astine UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Windows on the work desktop.
    Solaris in the datacenter.
    Arch on my desktop.
    Gentoo on my VPS.
    My phone is an Android device.
    I am between laptops… will probably be Arch if and when I get a new one.

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  26. k00pa FINLAND Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Windows 7 on my main gaming machine.
    One Debian in a virtualbox on the win7 box.
    Another Debian in my old computer that acts as home-server.
    One Mac that runs on old PowerPC.
    iPod is on iOs4, haven’t updated yet.
    Then some random machines that are just lying around.

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  27. Windows XP at work.

    Android phone
    Ubuntu 11.03 laptop
    Windows Vista desktop (which rarely even gets turned on, just to play some Pirates of the Burning Sea)

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  28. Douglas AUSTRALIA Safari Linux says:

    I use Windows 7 Pro at both home and work, and have Android 2.3.7 on my phone.

    As for my non-desk jobs, one uses Windows 2000 Pro still for the most part, while the other runs IBM 4690 v5 and XP SP2.

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  29. Gerardo ARGENTINA Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    The devices i use are:

    - iPhone 3GS – IOS 5
    - Desktop PC – Fedora 15
    - Work Laptop – Windows 7
    - Lotsa servers at work – Sun (it hurts me to say Oracle) Solaris

    Between all of them (except the servers) i switch almost seamlessly, almost same data present in all of them (bookmarks, accounts, etc)

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  30. Chrissy UNITED STATES Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    My work laptop, which is also used as a personal computer, is a MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard. For website development I run sites from a FreeBSD VM. Since I occasionally have to check sites in various versions of IE, I also have VMs for XP, Vista, and 7. My company does hosting on FreeBSD, which is why we also use it locally for development (that, and Apple keeps making changes that make development more difficult on the Mac for our particular CMS)

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  31. JuEeHa FINLAND Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    Apple iBook g4/1.2GHz(main) running OS X 10.4 Tiger
    POMI tower from year 2000(secondary) currently running my own linux distro and ReactOS
    POMI tower from year 1994(server) running tiny core linux, my own 16bit asm multitasking os and Apple Rhapsody dr2
    Phone(I like to switch between these once in a month. This month I am using N-Gage):
    -Nokia N-Gage QD running Symbian S60 v1
    -Nokia 9300 running Symbian S80
    -Nokia 9210 running Symbian S80
    -Nokia 6110 running Nokia’s very simple own OS
    -Nokia 7710 running Symbian S90
    -Nokia 1610 running even simpler OS than 6110
    -HTC Wildfire running Android 2.2.1

    Playing aroud with:
    3xCommodore 64 running KERNAL
    2xAmiga 500 running Workbech 1.3 and MINIX(Actually used one daily for few weeks on 2009. Long story)
    Mac Classic running System 6, System 7 and MacMINIX
    Compaq preasario 9520 running FreeDOS/GEM
    Nokia 770 running Maemo 1
    Nokia n810 running Maemo 4

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