Microsoft Windows may be the most popular operating system in the world, but that doesn’t mean it is the most loved. In fact, many people are sick of using Windows and long for an OS that can free them from the world of Microsoft once and for all. Well, I’m here to let you know that today that is most definitely possible. You just have to know what to look for in order to do it the right way.
Today, I want to give you five alternative operating systems to Windows that will easily install and run on your laptop. By using one of these, you can free yourself from the bonds of Microsoft and try something on your computer that’s a little different. I think you will find that the process may take a little work, but in the end it will be worth it. So, if you are ready to try a different sort of operating system on your laptop, then today’s post is made just for you.
Why No macOS?
If you have browsed the list below already, you will notice that I didn’t include Apple’s macOS on this list. The reason is simple. The idea behind today’s list is to help you find an operating system that you can install on your laptop to replace Windows. Apple won’t let you do that. You have to buy Mac hardware if you want to legally run macOS. Sure, there are always ways to do it, but that’s not the subject of today’s post.
Alternative Operating Systems
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s take a look at my five top picks for the best alternative operating system out there.
1. Ubuntu Linux
When making this list, I almost just said Linux instead of picking a specific distribution. The fact is there are a ton of Linux distributions out there so this one may not be right for you. But I bet you can find one. The reason I chose Ubuntu Linux is it is one of the most popular distributions out there and has years of open source development behind to provide one of the best user experiences of all the Linux distributions.
Ubuntu Linux features its own unique graphical user interface that is not only gorgeous, but it’s easy to use. It’s Software Centre makes it easy to install a wide range of apps with just the click of a button so you can find the very best apps available for the Linux platform. Of course, you aren’t limited to just the Software Centre, you can compile and install apps made for Linux from almost anywhere. If you need support, it’s easy to find right on Canonical’s site so you can find the help you need in a matter of minutes. If you like the idea of Linux, then why not go with a very developed version that is fun, powerful, and easy to use?
2. Chromium OS
By now you have probably heard of Google’s operating system – Chrome OS. This browser based operating system is built on their web browser, Chrome, and gives you all the basic tools you need to get things done. Like Chrome, Google open sourced the project creating Chromium OS along the way. That means that you can install the latest version of this platform without having to buy a shiny new Chromebook.
What you have to remember is that this OS doesn’t come with support for many of the desktop style applications that you need. It is built on a browser. Since its release, it has become much more powerful. But if you are looking for serious productivity, this may not be right for you. What this operating system is good for is email, web browsing, media consumption, and document creating. If that’s all you do, then this will be the only OS you ever need, and you won’t have to worry about malware like you do on Windows.
3. Oracle Solaris
Originally born as SunOS, this operating system was rebranded as Oracle Solaris when Oracle purchased Sun. This operating system is a proprietary UNIX distribution that brings with it all the stability and security of UNIX along with Solaris’ take on the UNIX world. It features a long development and has even had community contributions during its time as an open source project. The OS is available to download for free for personal use but you will need a support license if you want to use it in your business.
While its looks may be a little basic, don’t underestimate its power. Remember, it’s based on UNIX, after all. It ships with a version of the GNOME desktop and includes built-in support for many Linux binaries giving you access to some of the most powerful open source software available. If you are searching for a rock solid alternative that is backed by a commercial company, then this could be a good option for you.
FreeBSD is one of the oldest distributions of an open source version of UNIX in existence today. Originally designed by college students at Berkeley, FreeBSD was based upon the commercial UNIX they used every day while they were in school. Today, it is one of the most well maintained versions of BSD available. It’s so highly regarded that even Apple chose it to base its macOS on when they first released OS X.
It is designed with servers in mind, and as such doesn’t come with a graphical user interface by default. However, you can easily add one in a manner of minutes and the popular open source options such as Gnome and KDE all have versions designed specifically for FreeBSD. If you want to use a truly free and open source version of UNIX, and you want something stable and secure for either a desktop or server environment, this is a great choice.
5. Remix OS
This is a newcomer on my list of favorite alternate operating systems. Do you love Android? If so, what would you think about running it on your laptop? Remix OS is a desktop operating system built on Android Marshmallow that brings all the Android goodness to your PC. It is clean, easy to use, and you can install the Google Play app on your computer and run almost any Android app out there.
Keep in mind that not every app is built to run on an Intel or AMD based system, so you may run into apps that don’t run properly or won’t even install. But for the most part you will have an easy time installing all your favorite apps on your laptop. Personally, this is my go to system to use on a daily basis, and I love the look and feel when using the system. If you like the idea of running Android on your PC, this is the easiest way to do it. You can easily download and install it for free onto a USB stick or even dual boot your system with Windows if you wish so you can switch back and forth whenever you need to.
How Do You Choose?
Now that you know some of the best choices, the time has come to choose which one you want to use. This can be difficult to do. In the end, it is up to you, but let me see if I can help narrow things down for you a little bit.
If you have a lot of experience with computers and you love to tinker, then the BSD options will work well for you. However, if you want something that just works, then Ubuntu or Remix OS may be a better fit for you. If you want to create a rock solid server, definitely go with the UNIX or BSD options, and if you want something to give you a simple desktop that just works and doesn’t come with a lot of fluff then Chromium OS may be right for you.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to your computing experience and how you plan on using it. Personally, I love several of these options and can find a use for all of them, but I’m not what you would call a typical user. Think about your usage and experience and then pick the one that best fits those criteria and you should find a Windows OS alternative that is right for you.
All of the operating systems on this list are great alternatives to Windows. They are well developed, very secure and highly stable so you can create a desktop or even a server that will serve you well. Which you choose is really up to you. However, I do believe that if you give any of these a chance, you will be glad you did.
Which operating system do you prefer to use instead of Windows? Do you stick with Linux or have you given these other operating systems a shot? Tell me which you use and describe your experience in the comments below. I would love to hear how it went for you.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.