PSA: GNU/Linux is not the only game in town when it comes to alternative operating systems.
Here's a look at lesser-known operating systems. Some are serious, production-quality systems. Others are whimsical or half-baked platforms. All present alternative options for people who want to experiment with something other than Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.
Hurd is the kernel that was supposed to complete Richard Stallman's GNU operating system. Unlike the rest of the GNU system, however, Hurd never materialized in production-ready form, and Linux became the kernel that Hurd was supposed to be.
That said, there are a handful of semi-working GNU/Hurd systems out there, including one from Debian.
FreeBSD is probably the best-known open source Unix-like operating system that is not based on Linux. Developed since the 1990s from the code base that comprised the Berkeley Software Distribution, or BSD, FreeBSD boasts better performance in certain areas than Linux.
And, again, FreeBSD recently got a boost from Microsoft, which is now offering FreeBSD images in the Azure cloud.
NetBSD is another modern, open source OS derived from the BSD codebase. It promises support for a wide range of hardware platforms, hence its motto: "Of course it runs NetBSD."
Rounding out the list of major BSD-based operating systems that are still around today is OpenBSD. It emphasizes security and portability.
No, FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD are not the only BSD-systems that still exist today. But they are the most popular ones in this category.
Born at Bell Labs, the same place that gave rise to AT&T Unix itself, Plan 9 is an open source operating system designed for clusters. It incorporates some Unix design principles, but it's based mostly on original code.
Plan 9 hasn't seen a new release since 2002. But that hasn't stopped Unix die-hards in recent years from doing things like installing Plan 9 on the Raspberry Pi.
ReactOS promises what is probably impossible: The ability to run a complete Microsoft Windows environment without using any Windows code. Instead, ReactOS tries to emulate Windows, in much the same way that the Wine project does -- the difference between the two projects being that ReactOS aims to build a complete, stand-alone Windows environment, while Wine simply runs Windows apps on top of Linux.
Unfortunately, ReactOS is not a production-quality replacement for Windows. But it kind of works, especially inside virtual environments, and it's cool to play with.
The Temple Operating System, or Temple OS, is one of the most obscure of the obscure operating systems. It takes some design cues from the venerable Commodore 64 system of yore, but it's mostly a grass-roots OS with lots of original features.
TempleOS's main emphasis is on being lean and simple. The entire OS, including both the kernel and userland, weighs in at under 80,000 lines of code.
This system is a bit politicized, but these days, what isn't?
I know of / briefly tried Haiku, formerly known as BeOS.
Not based on Linux, Unix, MacOS or Windows.
OMG you missed the best. Haiku ( haiku-os.org )
what about Haiku, the operating system from BEOS days?, fairly simple to use and very very quick. Not based on Linux
Can't forget Haiku. It's quite usable and fun to try out once in a while. I just wish its development were faster.
March 30: Modern Approaches to Selling in the Digital World Order
For VARtweet sponsor info contact Amy Katz (email@example.com)
Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×