Operating systems and Linux distributions

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Operating Systems


GNU/Linux aims to be a free and open-source unix (or unix-like) operating system that will run on most types of computer hardware and uses an X11 graphical user interface. Various distributions of GNU/Linux exist that have different package management systems and other features. Most of these are ideal platforms for X-ray crystallography and other scientific computational requirements.

Linux Distributions

These differ greatly in the time they support their releases:

  • OpenSuse: 2 years
  • Fedora: 18 months
  • Ubuntu: 18 months
  • Ubuntu LTS: Server 5 years, Desktop 3 years
  • CentOS: 7 years
  • Gentoo: less relevant; "rolling releases"
  • Debian: 1 year after a new release; thus usually 2.5 - 3.5 yrs

Useful Links

Mac OS X

Mac OS X is a proprietary BSD-unix-derived operating system that runs on Apple's computers. The BSD-subsystem, called Darwin, attempts to be open-source. Unlike most other flavors of unix, OS X is not based on an X11 windowing system, but instead uses a proprietary Aqua graphical user interface. For crystallographers and others who need the conventional X11 windowing system, an Xserver for OS X is available, and installs by default on the most current version of OS X.


Irix (SGI)