Which operating system should I use?

Once you are an expert, it simply does not matter which operating system you use. As soon as you become familiar with any modern operating system, you will be able to complete any task quickly and effectively.

However, if you are a beginner your goal should be to build skills and some operating systems may help you on that purpose while some others not. In any case, your long term goal should be to become familiar with at least three mainstream operating systems, like Windows, Linux and Mac OS.

For development/programming, we recommended that, as a beginner, you use a Linux-based distribution. Mainly the reasons are:

  1. Most beginners are not familiar with the Linux command prompt. In fact many of them are afraid of it. Not only the command prompt is a powerful tool that you need to learn in order to become a professional but also it will help you understand deeper what you are doing. The main principles of all operating systems are the same. Knowledge you will get from Linux command prompt and especially from BASH can be applied to MAC OS and even windows. The opposite is not true. Master the command prompt and you will become a stronger professional. If don’t want to master it, no problem, just become familiar with it. It will still be a useful tool available to you if you need it.
  2. Many programming tools are free and can be easily installed on Linux with package management tools like apt, snap or dnf.  With just 3-4 commands you are ready to go. Additionally you don’t have to download them from web sites and they are always virus free. This is very helpful for the beginner.
  3. Many IDEs (like Netbeans or Eclipse) can compile many languages in Linux out of the box – no configuration at all. While in windows you may have to make some configurations that could be confusing to you, especially if you want to compile POSIX C/C++ programs.
  4. It is free.

There are many other reasons why Linux is a good choice. Read this article if you want to know more.

Here are some recommended versions (64 bit LTS always):

  1. Xubuntu
  2. Ubuntu Mate
  3. Linux Mint with any window manager you want

You may also try UberStudent or simply Ubuntu.

If you a true beginner then I recommend Xubuntu. It is fast, reliable and easy to install.

Also, it is recommended that you do NOT use a virtual machine. No matter how fast  your computer is, if you skip using a virtual machine, it will perform faster. Also, some keyboard shortcuts (especially when dead keys or modifier keys are used) do not work optimally in virtual machines.

If you do not know how to install the operating system you can search instructing videos to youtube.

But please remember: Always make frequent backups if you have important information stored on your computer!!!

Next step?

Once you have setup the operating system, you should install the IDE for the language of your choice:

  1. prepare for C++
  2. prepare for Java
  3. prepare for Python


view a list of all preparation articles