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What Makes a Good Operating System?

There are a lot of good operating systems these days. How do you pick one? If you're going to pick Linux, how do you pick which distribution to use? Here are the criteria that are important to me:
  • It must support my hardware. It doesn't matter if it's the best operating system in the world, if I can't run it on my hardware, it does me no good. An operating system that doesn't support my wireless card just isn't a viable alternative.
  • It must be painless to install the software I want and uninstall it when I don't want it anymore. I like keeping a clean, "repeatable" system, so building software by hand without being able to uninstall it is something I avoid whenever possible.
  • It must be easy to update. I like to apply security patches as soon as they come out, and I like running modern versions of all my favorite software. Installing a new kernel in production under Ubuntu is trivial. Running "make world" in production isn't.
  • It must be FOSS, because that's the future I want to see. Being "mostly" open source like OpenSolaris just doesn't cut it for me.
Criteria involve trade offs. You probably have your own criteria, but these are the criteria that have lead me to be such a fan of Ubuntu.

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