What's the Best Operating System? //TODO

There are many different operating systems to choose from, but which one is the best? Is it Windows, Linux, macOS, UNIX, Unix, or even MS-DOS? Or something else?

Well, there's no "best" operating system which would be perfect in every situation. This document is just a quick overview of some of the most popular/important systems with a short description explaining why I prefer it to the others or not like it. I'm sure that not everyone will agree with me.

Created
Sometime in 2016
Updated
11/27/2017

Quick Links

In this document, I have divided the operating systems into four groups. Because the document is pretty long, here are links to the specific parts of the document.

Explanation of the Used Terms

In the document I am using terms which I am familiar with, but I will briefly explain some of them here. It is possible that someone else may want to read this document.

Developer

Software is usually developed by someone. Usually it's either a company, an individual, or a community of developers.

Individual developer
If the whole operating system is created/put together by a single person, I don't usually trust it. These minor systems or home-made distros are lagging in terms of security and new features. These systems also have a short life because the developer can stop working on it any time (especially if he doesn't get paid for his work) and nobody will want to continue his work.
Community of volunteering developers
Very similar to an Individual developer specified above.
A community sponsored by some company
When a company is involved, it is usually in its interest to keep things going and as bug-free as possible. Although sometimes the company can force the developers to go in a bad direction (ex. Ubuntu).
A company
Similar to above. If the success of the system is critical to the company, the quality of the software is on a different, higher, level. It's not always the case though, remember the first buggy release of Windows 10 or the current state of Windows 10 for phones - Windows on phones is not a priority for Microsoft now.

OS Family

It can't be said that every operating system is completely different from the others. In fact, some systems might be very similar because they share the same roots or philosophy. These are the most common groups (families) of operating systems.

DOS
A short for Disk Operating System.
From 1980's to mid 90's, Microsoft's MS-DOS or its alternatives were very popular. It provided only a basic (and very primitive) command prompt. First versions of Microsoft Windows (Windows 1.0 through Windows ME, including Windows 95 and 98) were running on top of MS-DOS. DOS systems usually lack support of new technologies introduced in late 90's, such as networking, multi-core processing, 32-bit memory addressing and all of security features.
Windows NT
Based on OS/2, Windows NT 3.1 was the first version. It was released in 1993 as an enterprise alternative to always-crashing MS-DOS-based Windows 3.1. Since 2000's, all Windows versions are built on Windows NT kernel.
UNIX
Note: All letters are upper-case. A family of network-based operating systems developed since 1970's. UNIX systems were popular for networking and supercomputing until late 90's when they were replaced by Linux systems. UNIX systems are usually proprietary and expensive.
Unix
These systems share the same roots with UNIX but they usually don't contain any proprietary UNIX code. They also don't have UNIX certification.
Unix-like
Systems with functionality very similar to UNIX but which were created independently of UNIX. The most known example would be GNU, which is free software (open source). Developers behind GNU have been unable to create a working OS kernel to-day, so Linux is used as the kernel instead.
Linux is not a one single operating system. In fact, Linux is only an OS kernel. There are many (hundreds) operating systems using Linux kernel together with GNU userland - which are called Linux distributions, or distros for short.

Unix/Linux Desktop Environments

Unlike Windows, Linux doesn't have a graphical user interface (GUI) built in the kernel. If you don't want to use only a text-mode console, there are many Desktop Environments to choose from. The following list mentions only some of the most popular ones. Usually it's possible to install any of these desktop environments in any Linux distribution.

GNOME
GNOME by default, unlike most other more conservative desktop environments, uses Wayland compositor instead of relying on obsolete and insecure X11 server protocol. It's also the only enterprise-grade desktop available. Enterprise Linux distributions (such as Red Hat, SUSE) usually offer GNOME as the only desktop environment.
KDE
KDE looks similar to Windows and is highly customizable. In KDE, you can easily set almost anything. Beginners can be easily confused by the amount of clickable options they are provided. And in my experience, KDE crashes from time to time (the desktop behind the windows goes black and then reappears, windows sometimes close itself, especially in Settings). And it still needs X11 server, no stable Wayland yet.
XFCE
XFCE is very lightweight desktop which can be useful on old or underpowered computers. But it's a bit conservative and outdated. No Wayland.
Mate
Take a very old version of GNOME (GNOME 2), make it a bit more crashy and rename it. This is Mate.
Unity
A discontinued desktop previously used in Ubuntu Linux.
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is an older version of GNOME 3 highly modified to make it uglier and more "beginner friendly". It significantly lags behind current GNOME. And, of course, no Wayland support.
Windowmaker
Excellent choice for very old computers (90's-2000's). Uses X11 server. Very lightweight and similar to NeXTSTEP system graphical interface from early 90's.
iceWM
Also excellent for very old computers. X11 only.

Release Model

How often and how much the software is updated.

Standard release (Point release)
There's a new version once in a while. Once a new version is released, the currently installed version of software must be upgraded or, in some case, the new version must be installed from scratch. The regular system updates apply for a specific version of the software. There might be multiple supported versions at a given time.
For example there's Windows 7 receiving its updates and Windows 10 also receiving its own updates. To move from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and experience new features, the system must be upgraded or re-installed.
Rolling release
There are no system release versions, in fact, there is only one version of the system, the current one. So installing all updates is enough to keep the system with the latest features, no upgrade is required. In this model, you can't rely on a specific version of software. Once a new version of the particular software is released, it gets automatically updated. Because the system is changing so much, things are more likely to break.
A good example would be Arch Linux. Once you install it and regularly install all updates, it stays with the latest software packages. No need to upgrade to a new version of Arch, there is not any Arch 1 or Arch 2. It's simply Arch, always up-to-date.

Modern Desktop PC

This is any recently bought brand-new computer. It usually has the following specs:

The operating system should support all of these features. It also should be pretty recent and up-to-date. It is expected that there will be many updates to be installed every few weeks.

Fedora Workstation

//TODO

Fedora Workstation 27
Developer
A community project sponsored by Red Hat.
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
GNOME 3
My Recommended Desktop Environment
GNOME 3
Price
Free, open-source
Release Model
2 releases per year
Updates
Two future released versions plus one month
~13 months

Windows 10 Pro

The only operating system that usually fully works on any modern PC because, unlike other operating systems, it's fully supported by most hardware manufacturers. It's also very easy for beginners, this OS comes pre-installed on new computers and everything usually works out of the box. Most existing programs work on Windows. Windows is usually the first and the only operating system people learn to use because it's so dominant and widespread.

The license to use Windows is not cheap. There is a cheaper alternative to Windows 10 Pro called just Windows 10. But this version is targeted at home users and lacks many useful features, such as Hyper-V virtualization and other things.

Windows 10 Build 1703
Developer
Microsoft Corporation
Family
Windows NT
Kernel
Windows NT
Userland
Windows
Default Desktop Environment
Windows shell
Price
Expensive, closed-source
Release Model
2 major updates per year
Updates
5 years mainstream support
and then 5 years extended support

openSUSE Tumbleweed

The only distro which can almost replace Windows. Not everything works, though. It's a bit bloated, so beginners can get lost between all the installed apps.

I can't find the source, but openSUSE should be very good for using on a PC with an AMD processor.

openSUSE Tumbleweed (late 2017)
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
KDE, GNOME 3
My Recommended Desktop Environment
GNOME 3
Price
Release Model
Rolling release
Updates
Always the latest

Ubuntu Desktop

Ubuntu is based on Debian and further modified. It is only partially compatible with Debian. A bit outdated packages.

There are two versions, the latest Ubuntu released twice a year (April and October) and a long term support version, LTS.

Ubuntu 17.10
Developer
Canonical Ltd.
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
GNOME 3 (with minor modifications)
My Recommended Desktop Environment
Vanilla GNOME 3
Price
Free, open-source
Paid enterprise support
Release Model
//TODO
//TODO LTS
Updates
//TODO
//TODO LTS

Production Server

The OS does not have to come with any graphical user interface, text mode is usually fully sufficient. Headless operation is expected. It must be secure and reliable. Usually only security updates are expected.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
GNOME 3
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

CentOS

//TODO

CentOS 7 1708
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
GNOME 3
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

Debian Stable

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
GNOME 3
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

Windows Server

Server version of Windows. It still contains graphical user interface, it's definitely not lightweight.

No image
Developer
Family
Windows NT
Kernel
Windows NT
Userland
Windows
Default Desktop Environment
Windows shell
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

FreeBSD

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
Unix
Kernel
FreeBSD
Userland
//TODO
Default Desktop Environment
none (text-mode)
My Recommended Desktop Environment
WindowMaker
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

Mission Critical Desktop PC

This is any desktop or workstation computer where stability is a top priority. The OS doesn't have to support all the latest technologies and it doesn't have to provide the latest version of included software. Only security updates are expected.

openSUSE Leap

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
KDE, GNOME 3
My Recommended Desktop Environment
GNOME 3
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

Debian Stable

Very old packages. Only security updates. No non-free firmware (microcode updates etc).

https://statuscode.ch/2016/02/distribution-packages-considered-insecure/

No image
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
GNOME 3
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

SUSE Linux Enterprise

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
GNOME 3
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

Oracle Solaris

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Solaris
Userland
Solaris
Default Desktop Environment
GNOME 2
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

Operating system which I would not recommend for everyday use because of instability or missing important features.

Debian Testing, Debian Unstable

After about ten days packages from Unstable move to testing. Because of the ten-day delay it should be more stable than Unstable. But it's also the least secure of these three branches, because it can take ten days for the update to arrive. Simply: If a security bug is found in a package, the package's developer releases the new, updated, version. This version goes to Debian Unstable and usually is backported to Debian Stable. And after ten days it finally gets from Unstable to Testing.

Although it is called Unstable, it contains stable versions of packages (and sometimes the packages are not the latest either).

Debian Sid (late 2017)
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
GNOME 3
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

Linux Mint

!DO NOT USE!

http://www.techrepublic.com/article/why-the-linux-mint-hack-is-an-indicator-of-a-larger-problem/

No image
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
Cinnamon
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

elementaryOS

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
//TODO
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

Solus

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
//TODO
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

Arch Linux

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
//TODO
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

Manjaro

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
Unix-like
Kernel
Linux
Userland
GNU
Default Desktop Environment
//TODO
My Recommended Desktop Environment
default
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

HAIKU

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
BeOS
Kernel
//TODO
Userland
//TODO
Default Desktop Environment
//TODO
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

ReactOS

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
Windows NT-like
Kernel
//TODO
Userland
//TODO
Default Desktop Environment
//TODO
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

FreeDOS

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
DOS
Kernel
//TODO
Userland
//TODO
Default Desktop Environment
//TODO
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO

OpenIndiana

//TODO

No image
Developer
Family
Unix
Kernel
Illumos (Solaris)
Userland
//TODO
Default Desktop Environment
//TODO
Price
Release Model
//TODO
Updates
//TODO