Most people have been penned in and don’t realize that there are other options, so fall back into a pattern of only using Windows. Mac OSX does get respect from me because at the root of it all (that’s a unix / linux pun) Apple built OSX on a BSD base.
Why all of the scary operating system links? Purely educational. Want a Linux machine? I will build one for you .. it’s really fun to put kids on them, they can’t install a huge amount of games, but they can still get their work done. But, I digress … I like the *nix variants because originally, you HAD to know hardware in order to get them to run. They were more purely tasked towards server usages (webservers, DNS servers, email servers, etc) than as desktop workstations.
- Linux From Scratch (LFS) – The site background image was a screenshot from one of my LFS builds. I believe I was at about 6th or 7th generation on my builds (each install was built from the previous install) when I shifted away from LFS due to the unavailability of a 64 bit option.
- Ubuntu – One of the most popular (if not the top) versions available. LiveCD available so you can try without affecting your existing operating system. I use the server version pretty exclusively.
- Debian – Even Ubuntu had to get its start from somewhere. Debian is what Ubuntu forked from and most of the backend commands are interchangeable between the two.
- CentOS – Built off of Redhat Linux (I won’t link them because of the shift in their services). This is more tailored towards server systems.
- So many more .. Mint, Slackware (what I started on in 1996), Android (yes, your Android phone is linux), etc etc etc
- BSD – I went with a one page fits all approach. The beginning of the page that I’ve linked to contains a fairly good listing of the available variants (some free, some not). My router / firewall is also running a variant called PFSense.