When building a computer, you have a choice of not only hardware but the most important software program: the operating system. Microsoft Windows is the most popular OS, but Linux is still an alternative for PCs. Which one is right for you?
Microsoft Windows is the most widely used desktop operating system, and for good reason. It has the widest support of all the major hardware manufacturers. This means that you’ll be able to find components with Windows drivers from the manufacturers.
Since so many custom-built PCs these days are used for gaming, graphics card makers focus on Windows for their support. Game developers subsequently target Windows because that’s where their market is.
The other major choice in desktop operating systems is Linux, which has been in development since 1991, as the shining jewel of the open source movement with contributions from programmers from all over the world.
It’s the most widely used server operating system but tends to be used on the desktop mainly by developers. It’s less supported by hardware manufacturers but Valve has made a push for Linux as a gaming platform, with their Proton utility being able to run Windows games in beta. NVIDIA also has official Linux graphics drivers.
There are lots of distributions out there, but Ubuntu is the easiest to get started with. You can even run it from a USB stick without installing it.
Mixing and Matching Windows and Linux
You don’t have to strictly choose one or the other. There are several ways you can use both Windows and Linux if you want to. You can install both systems on the same hard drive and dual-boot them. When you turn on or restart your PC, the bootloader will give you a menu to let you choose which OS to use.
Virtual machines, such as VirtualBox or VMware let you run an operating system in its own virtual machine within your main system. Windows Subsystem for Linux lets you run Linux text apps in Windows and Wine lets you run Windows programs in Linux
As you can choose just the hardware components you want in your custom-built computer, you can also choose the operating system. If you’re looking for advice on what OS is best for your custom-built computer, please feel free to get in touch with us at PC Geeks.