Well, I currently have a dual-boot setup with Ubuntu Linux 7.10 (my main one) and Windows XP Pro (for the games that just won't
work in Linux and don't have an open-source alternative).
Way, way back in time, my first computer ran DOS (I forget which version, but an old one...). The next computer had DOS 5 and Windows 3.11 (which had to be launched from DOS). Then I moved on to Windows 98/98SE which I stuck with for years. Then I finally moved up to Windows XP. Around a year or so ago, I got curious as to what other options there may be. I started small with PuppyLinux in a VM. and gradually moved towards a bigger distro (Ubuntu) on an external USB drive. It's only been about 3 months since I actually repartitioned my internal drives and stuck Ubuntu on there. It's been three months and I now use Linux almost exclusively.
Why? There are a number of reasons. A big one for me is security. Under Windows, I had to run several programs in the background just to protect myself: antivirus, antispyware, firewall, etc. On the other hand Linux, while not impervious to harm, is structured more towards negating the need for specialized security programs. All I have is a hardware firewall, which is common sense in any OS.
Then there's the options which Linux offers. I like options; the more the better. For example, with Windows XP I have (by default) only 3 choices as to how the GUI appears: Ugly Playskool Blue/Green, a tolerable silver and green, and old-fashioned Windows (also silver, but no green). Under Linux, there are probably thousands of combinations available. I can use Gnome, KDE, Fluxbox, Enlightenment, or others, with or without Compiz-Fusion, and any number of color, icon, font, and window decoration themes. Or, I can dispense with GUI's all together and bask in the warm glow of a pure text-based interface.
These choices exist because Linux is a modular operating system. And being modular, there's a great deal of compartmentalism. This compartmentalism lends itself well to overall system stability. For example, if the graphics subsystem in Windows crashes, it brings down the whole system because the graphics subsystem is integral to the kernel. On Linux, if I crash the X-Server then I get dropped down into text mode but the system keeps on running as if nothing happened. All I have to do to restart the X-Server and keep going myself.
Getting to your question about which OS would work best on equal hardware, it's hard to say. There are a lot of things that would need to be considered first.
Like, which versions should be compared? Vista's the latest MS OS, but few would argue at this point that it's the best version. There are hundreds of versions of Linux available. It would hardly be fair to compare, say, DamnSmallLinux to Windows or MacOSX on the basis of speed. But, in my experience, Linux is snappier than Windows (I've not used a Mac in over a decade, so I can't speak to how they would do).
Whoa, this post is way longer than I planned!
Edited by Amazing Andrew, 11 April 2008 - 04:15 AM.