My very first encounter with computers was with the Apple II, and a good way to use it was to know BASIC (PCs were called microcomputers then). That was way back in 1982. Later Microsoft was used specifically with DOS. I don't recall the exact dates but later I used MS Windows. All of these were machines used in the institutions I studied and worked in. The very first computer in the house was bought by my brother and it had Win95 and later Win98 was installed. We occasionally installed some other versions (Me and 2000) but it always gravitated to Win98. My dual boot desktop has WinXP in it.
In late 2002, I decided to try Debian GNU/Linux
(kernel 2.2.20) mainly because Windows was very expensive, and also because Linux was nice and free. You only pay for the plastic (CD) and delivery. At that time, I had a hard time and I didn't even recommend it to others. You have to read a lot of documentation, but the more important side-effect was that I appreciated the inner workings of a computer. It also demanded that I use text mode more often (console) than GUIs. After a year or so, I backslid to using Windows again although my PC was dual-boot (can be booted with Windows or Linux). With some emails I received from a classmate of mine (UPCM '91), I decided to again dabble in Linux.
Using Google, I searched: "best linux distribution". The results were unequivocal. Ubuntu
always popped up. So I went to its website and ordered Live CDs, and I was surprised that they were given for free, including the stamps! I then installed Ubuntu 6.06 (dual boot with WinXP), nicknamed Dapper Drake. It worked perfectly well: everything you can do with Windows, you can do in Ubuntu Linux
. And everything is so easy.
The desktop was GNOME
, which some say looks like a Mac (I don't know if this is true because I never owned a Mac).
A newer version of the OS becomes available every six months. Try Ubuntu
; if you have only 1 PC, do a dual boot (disc has to be partitioned or sliced if only 1 HD is present).
There are many other free OS's out there... it's ultimately your choice.