I am old. I can remember the days when we did not have operating systems but stand-alone applications dealing directly with devices. Operating Systems were a huge improvement because the hardware parts were dealt with locally and the applications could be globally independent of platform.
SJVN has written on this topic, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: Operating systems don’t matter much anymore, and he makes a lot of good points. One he misses however is that people still need and want small cheap computers and having huge RAM running two or more virtual machines is not small and it’s not cheap. The “proprietary” part kills that:
- that other OS charges a hefty licence per machine,
- MacOS requires Apple hardware underneath (licensing requirement), and
- some virtualization software still costs a bundle
Cloud stuff adds a new wrinkle. Any OS with a browser may do the bulk of the work sooner or later.
It still matters what the OS is underneath for all of this:
- GNU/Linux can run the desktop, servers, virtualization and cloud stuff all at once for zero licensing cost, and
- last time I checked, GNU/Linux can run a browser.
I recommend Debian GNU/Linux because it gives the greatest flexibility in an OS. Everything else considered equal, the world and individuals and organizations in it are better off running the most efficient, effective and reliable OS. If consumers lack the skills to decipher that OEMs, retailers and ISVs will have to figure that out. It’s happening. M$’s share constantly sinks while competing technologies jostle for starting positions. The market will sort it all out and in the long run those non-free technologies will take a back seat to robust and flexible computing that’s economical. That will be a Free Software OS as far as I can see. The world does not owe giant corporations with onerous EULAs a living.