The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
This has been a technical week for me. I haven't accomplished any genealogy research, but I have progressed technically.
Anyone thinking of purchasing a first computer or an upgrade to an existing computer faces the classic question: "Which operating system should I use?"Today's technology offers several very good options. Those who decide to use normal desktop or laptop computers can choose from Windows, Macintosh, Linux, or even the new Chrome operating system from Google (see http://goo.gl/RW3nk). Another popular choice these days is to skip the bigger, more powerful computers and instead use a more flexible and much more portable handheld computer, such as an Apple or Android tablet.
I wanted a new, more powerful computer and asked myself, "Why can't I have them all?" Indeed, I almost can. This week I purchased a new computer and installed five different operating systems on it: Windows 8, Macintosh OS X Mountain Lion, Google Chrome, Ubuntu 12.04 (Linux), and even Android 4. The only one missing is iOS, the operating system for Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. I haven't yet figured out how to install iOS on my new computer.
Actually, I could have installed more operating systems, including all earlier versions of Windows (do you remember Windows 3.1?), most Intel-based versions of Linux, several versions of UNIX, earlier versions of Macintosh OS X (although nothing earlier than OS X), as well as OS/2, MS-DOS, and some others. Having the capability of installing older operating systems is useful when you need to use an older program that doesn't work properly on the newest version of the operating system.
For instance, not all ten-year-old Windows programs designed for use with Windows XP will function properly on Windows 8. With my new system, I could have both Windows 8 and Windows XP installed on the same computer and use the old program under Windows XP while simultaneously running newer applications under Windows 8.
All the operating systems also have full access to my peripherals: printers, scanners, external disk drives, and more, with some minor limitations amongst the older operating systems that are not always compatible with new peripherals.
Best of all, I can run all of these operating systems and their programs simultaneously. There is no need to boot down to switch between operating systems; they all can operate together at the same time. As a test, I have run Windows 8, Macintosh OS X Mountain Lion, Ubuntu Linux, and Google Chrome simultaneously with no noticeable degradation in speed. I can even copy-and-paste from Windows applications to Macintosh applications and vice-versa. However, the older operating systems generally do not support copy-and-paste as well as do the latest systems. In most cases, I can also easily share files between various operating systems. I can edit a file with a Windows word processor, then later update it with a Linux word processor, then later use a Macintosh word processor to continue the edits. Multimedia files work mostly the same; I can download a movie by using the Windows operating system and then watch it in a Linux video player.
Best of all, the process of installing all these operating systems was surprisingly easy. I didn't have to make any systems modifications or perform any technical "magic tricks." However, it did require two long evenings to get everything installed and operational.
The first step to building my "super computer" is to select the appropriate hardware.
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