Playing the X Game

Windows XP, Mac OS X, and Linux: Is your OS worth an upgrade?

for graphics and video editing. To this end Mac OS X offers support for applications such as iDVD2, which lets users view and create DVD videos. Mac OS X can burn data to a CD without additional software. Apple’s QuickTime software provides the support in Mac OS X for viewing streaming videos from the Web.

Mac OS X version 10.1 ($129) requires 128MB of RAM and will run on Apple iMac, iBook, Power Macintosh G3, Power Mac G4, and Power Mac G4 Cube computers, as well as PowerBook notebooks released after May 1998. Owners of earlier versions of Mac OS X can upgrade to version 10.1 through Apple’s Up-To-Date program for $19.95.

LINUX
Linux is a family of operating systems for tinkerers and programmers. It isn’t used so much to create applications as it is used to create solutions. The open source code of Linux allows developers to create unique applications specifically suited for the task at hand, be it weather forecasting or processing requests for football game tickets.

While Linux can be downloaded free from many locations on the Web, many companies and user groups sell their own “distributions” of Linux. Some popular distributions include Red Hat Inc.’s (www.redhat.com) Red Hat Deluxe Workstation ($79.95), which includes notebook support and a bundle of applications and utilities, and Caldera International’s (www.caldera.com) Caldera OpenLinux Workstation Release 3.1 ($59), which includes a raft of tools for developing commercial applications. Many of the Linux CDs offer graphical user interfaces that rival those of Windows XP and Mac OS X.

But few popular applications come in Linux versions. Corel, which offers Corel WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux and other Linux titles, is the exception among major software publishers. Linux information can be found at Websites such as Linux.com (www.linux.com), Linux Online Inc. (www.linux.org), and LinuxNovice.Org (www.linuxnovice.org).

PICK AN OS
Which OS is right for you? It depends on how you use your computer. If you often bring work home from the office, a Windows XP-based PC makes sense, since most large corporations standardize on Microsoft applications such as Word and Excel. However, if you use desktop publishing software or edit digital videos, the Macintosh platform has a decided edge with a larger choice of powerful graphics- and video-editing applications.

Home users who need a PC for light word processing, Web surfing, and e-mail won’t go wrong with either the Windows or Mac platforms. While Linux can support a home PC, it’s not recommended for computer novices.

No, operating systems aren’t terribly exciting, but an old OS can become a problem. Have you downloaded Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer 6.0 Web browser? If you tried to install it on a PC running Windows 95, you already know that it won’t run and that your computer has just taken a step toward becoming a dinosaur.

Making the Cut

  Microsoft Windows XP www.microsoft.com Macintosh OS X version 10.1 www.macintosh.com Linux www.redhat.com, www.caldera.com

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Home Edition, $199($99 upgrade);

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