Freebyte's Guide to...
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Operating Systems
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Contents
Introduction
Free Linux Operating Systems
Free BSD Operating Systems
Virtual Machines / Emulators
Free Solaris
Other Unix Operating Systems
Free Educational Operating Systems
Anonymous Operating Systems
More free Operating Systems
Haiku (BeOS)
RiscOS
OS/2
Commercial Operating Systems
Java Operating-systems
Windows
DOS and DOS clones
Boot Disks and Portable operating systems
Open source BIOS
High Performance Computing
Operating System Development
Operating System-related sites
Related Freebyte pages
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Freebyte's Guide to GNU/Linux

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Introduction
This page contains alternatives to Windows, free operating systems, interesting initiatives for new Operating Systems, commercial Operating Systems, Operating Systems-related sites, Virtual Machines (emulators) which can be used to run Operating Systems inside other Operating Systems and more.
 
Free Linux Operating Systems
Freebyte's Guide to
GNU/Linux
Linux distributions, news, software, tutorials, education, communities, desktops, laptops, Linux on ARM and more.
 
Free BSD Operating Systems
PC-BSDFree user-friendly desktop-oriented BSD-edition. It is striving towards being one of the easiest OS's to install.
BSD home pageBSD, like Linux is based on Unix. A variety of resources for users of the various commercial and freely-available bsd Operating Systems, like FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD.
FreeBSDFreeBSD is an advanced free and open-source Operating System for Intel ia32 compatible, DEC Alpha, and PC-98 architectures. It is derived from BSD UNIX, the version of UNIX developed at the University of California, Berkeley. It is developed and maintained by a large team of individuals. Very popular Operating Systems for servers.
OpenBSD OpenBSD is a free, open-source, multi-platform 4.4BSD-based UNIX-like Operating System. OpenBSD supports binary emulation of most programs from SVR4 (Solaris), FreeBSD, Linux, BSDI, SunOS, and HPUX.
Net BSDNetBSD is a free, open-source, secure, and highly portable UNIX-like Operating System available for many platforms, from 64-bit alpha servers and desktop systems to handheld and embedded devices.
BSD-related newsDaemon News
 
Virtual Machines / Emulators
The software packages listed in this section are able to run one operating system inside another OS, or execute software created for one operating system inside another OS.
For instance, if you have a MAC, you can run Windows or Linux as a 'guest operating system' inside MacOS. In this case, MacOS is the 'host operating system', and Linux is the 'guest operating system'.
Alternatively, if you have a PC which has Windows installed, you can use e.g. Linux, FreeBSD or another edition of Windows as guest OS.
Or when you have Linux installed, you can run e.g. Windows as 'guest operating system'.
BochsBochs is a highly portable open source IA-32 (x86) PC emulator written in C++, that runs on most popular platforms. It includes emulation of the Intel x86 CPU, common I/O devices, and a custom BIOS. Bochs is capable of running Linux, Windows, DOS and possibly other operating systems as well.
CP/M EmulatorFreeware application to emulate CP/M-80 ver2.2 on the Macintosh.
CrossOverCrossOver enables you to run Windows software on Linux, MAC OS X and Solaris without needing to have a license for Windows (legally). This is an improved version of wine which offers enhanced compatibility with Windows. CrossOver is not freeware like wine though, it costs around 40$ which is not much if you compare it with a Windows license. For wine, please see below.
DosBoxAn open source DOS emulator especially suitable for running old DOS-based games. It emulates an Intel x86 PC, complete with sound, graphics, mouse, modem, etc., for running many old DOS games that are not compatible with modern Windows PC's. You can download versions for Linux, Windows, MAC, Risc OS, Solaris, OS/2, BeOS, Zeta.
DosEMUEmulates DOS on Linux. Freeware.
EasyVMXFree online program to create virtual machines for VMWare Player.
Emulators and MACEmulators for running Windows and other operating systems on MAC OS.
Guest PCA low-cost emulator for MAC / Power-PC which allows you to install and run Windows inside your MAC. Intel-based MAC's are not yet supported. Price: $ 69.99.
HerculesAn open source software implementation of the IBM mainframe System/370 and ESA/390 architectures, in addition to the new IBM 64-bit z/Architecture. Hercules runs on Linux, Windows, Solaris, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X.
ParallelsLow-cost emulator for Windows and MAC. Supported guest operating systems: Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, OS/2, DOS. Price: $ 79.99.
Plex86Very lightweight Virtual Machine (VM) for running Linux/x86. Rather than implement a full and heavyweight VM which can run all guest Operating Systems (OSes), the new approach is designed to run only Linux VMs, making the new plex86 architecture on the order of 10x or 100x more simplistic.
VirtualBoxFreeware, open-source virtual Machine for Windows, Linux, MAC. It supports a large number of guest operating systems including but not limited to Windows (NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista), DOS/Windows 3.x, Linux (2.4 and 2.6), and OpenBSD. We noticed that the installation program of VirtualBox replaced the standard operating system network drivers on our Windows test PC with Virtual box network drivers, which is not a good thing...
VMWare for MACRuns Windows, Linux, FreeBSD or other x86 operating systems side-by-side with Intel-based Mac OS X. Not freeware.
VMWare PlayerFreeware player which runs virtual machines. You cannot create virtual machines using this player, but you can create them using VMWare Workstation or EasyVMX (both listed directly below) .
Many pre-built freeware virtual machines are available for download here.
Note from the editor: we found it very difficult to download almost any free appliance due to server-timeout and other connection problems.
VMWare WorkstationCommercial (non-freeware), high-quality PC emulator. Emulates a PC with Bios and hardware.
Virtual platform which enables running more than one operating system simultaneously on one xxx86 computer. Currently one can run DOS, Linux, Solaris, Free BSD, Windows 7, XP, Vista, 200x, NT, 9x, 3.x and all Windows 64 bit editions. Up to four virtual Ethernet cards (having different network addresses) can each be assigned to each running virtual machine.
Each operating system runs in its own protected sandbox. Each operating system is executed directly by the processor, which gives a fast performance. Three versions available of this VM, one which sits on top of Linux, one which runs on MAC, and one which runs on Windows.
VMWare is used at Freebyte.com and we can recommend it as solid and stable.
WineWine allows you to run quite a number of Windows applications on Linux, BSD, Solaris and MAC OS x (without the need to pay for a Windows license - it is fully legal). If you run a Unix-like operating system, then it is likely that Wine is already installed on your system. Otherwise the package manager (built into your Linux distribution) will be able to download/install wine for you.
XenA free virtual machine for IA-32, x86-64, IA-64 and PowerPC. It supports various guest operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Solaris, BSD.
 
TreePad X Enterprise
384 Gigabyte Personal Information Manager and Word Processor.
Intuitive and versatile, including Website Generator, spellchecker, thesaurus, attachments, search engine, recycle bin, and much more! For Windows and Linux/Wine.
Click here to get the free evaluation version.
 
Free Solaris
Solaris is a Unix-based operating system originally created by Sun (now Oracle). Several open-source versions for Intel and Sparc processors are available. Solaris also runs inside the VMWare emulator (see above).
BeleniX
Nexenta
Open Solaris
OSUnix
Schilli
 
Other Unix Operating Systems
Chrome OSGoogle's operating system, open-source, based on Linux.
GNU HurdOpen-source (GNU) Replacement for the Unix kernel. The Hurd is a collection of servers that run on the Mach microkernel to implement file systems, network protocols, file access control, and other features that are implemented by the Unix kernel or similar kernels (such as Linux). Currently only available for x86 machines, but will be ported to other platforms. Advantages: free, object-oriented, scalable, compatible.
MinixAn open-source, small, reliable and self-healing operating system designed for smaller computers, embedded systems, and applications where high reliability and self-repair are important. Minix was designed initially for educational purposes by Andy TanenBaum.
Plan 9 from Bell LabsA unix operating system for x86 based PC's developed at Bell Labs starting in the late 1980's and updated ever since. Open source, freeware.
 
Free Educational Operating Systems
MikeOSAn open-source operating system for x86 PCs, written in assembly language. It is a learning tool to show how simple OSes work, with well-commented code and extensive documentation.
Features: a text-mode dialog and menu-driven interface , boots from a floppy disk or CD-ROM drive, over 60 system calls for use by third-party programs, pc speaker sound and serial terminal connection, file manager, text editor, image viewer, etc.
Other projects which are based on MikeOS: TomOS, ScorchOS, BareMetal.
NachosNachos is an educational operating system simulator used for undergraduate, and potentially graduate, level operating systems courses.
Runs on DEC MIPS, running Ultrix, SUN SPARCstations, HP PA-RISC, running HP-UX, 386 boxes, running 386BSD UNIX.
Does not run on Windows, MAC.
XinuXinu was originally designed as a vehicle for teaching Operating System design concepts and is used by many educational institutions for this purpose.
Xinu is also well-suited for teaching advanced programming concepts such as Concurrent Processing, I/O, IPC and Client-Server Interaction. Major advantages of Xinu are its (relative) simplicity, and that the source code can be modified as needed.
 
Anonymous Operating Systems
Tails'Tails' stands for: The Amnesic Incognito Live System. It aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity. All Internet traffic is routed through the Tor network. You can boot it as a live DVD or USB stick ('run without install'). By default Tails does not write any information to the harddisk of the computer it is running on. Tails is a Debian-based Linux distribution.
 
More free Operating Systems
Amiga.orgSite for Amiga-enthousiasts.
ArosAROS is a portable and free and open-source desktop operating system aiming at being compatible with AmigaOS 3.1, while improving on it in many areas.
Atari.orgAtari.org is a non-commercial service dedicated to the Atari home- and personal-computer users as well as the Classic Video Game enthusiasts all over the world. Also: the most up-to-date news, forums to exchange opinions, hints and support, a comprehensive search engine, web-hosting for Atari computer or video-game related pages as well as subdomains and email-forwarding.
BRiXAn open-source operating system project featuring: SMP, preemptive multi-threading, virtual memory, a secure multi-user environment and an easy to use graphical interface.
CapROSA new operating system that merges some very old ideas about capabilities with some newer ideas about performance and resource management. The result is a small, secure, real-time operating system that provides orthogonal persistence. A continuation of the EROS project.
ContikiAn open source, multi-tasking operating system for embedded systems and microcontrollers with small amounts of memory. A typical Contiki configuration is 2 kilobytes of RAM and 40 kilobytes of ROM.
CoyotosCoyotos is a secure, microkernel-based operating system that builds on the ideas and experiences of the EROS project. Much of the code developed for EROS will migrate directly to Coyotos.
DexOSA fast and free operating system for the PC (Intel, AMD, etc.). Everything in this operating system is focused on speed: the architecture, it's avoidance of virtualization, and it is completely written in assembly.
EROS'The Extremely Reliable Operating System': s a small, secure, real-time operating system that provides orthogonal persistence. EROS is no longer actively developed.
JazmynA freeware open-source 32-bit, protected-mode, multitasking, single-user, operating system which runs on i386 CPU's. Written in C++ and Assembly.
KolibriOSA small x86 assembler-based operating system. Open source, runs inside Virtual Machines as well.
Menuet OSMenuet is a fully 32/64 bit assembly written, graphical RTOS for assembly programming & distributed under GPL with the following features:
* pre-emptive multitasking, multithreading, ipc
* graphical UI with 16 M colors up to 1280x1024
* ide: editor/compiler for applications and kernel
* kernel and application sources included (GPL)
* ethernet: tcp/udp/icmp/ip
* http/mp3 servers, 3D maze
* free-form, skinnable application windows
* hard real-time data fetch
* fits in a single floppy
Since Menuet fits to a single floppy, you only need one blank 1.44 M diskette to install it. Your hard disks are not affected in any way.
MonaOSA free operating system for Intel processors with a small micro kernel (98 Kb). It is neither a POSIX nor a Windows clone and has been written in C++.
MorphOSA lightweight media-centric operating system with a just-in-time compiler simulating a Commodore Ax00 system. Freeware.
OberonOberon is the name of a modern integrated software environment. It is a single-user, multi-tasking system that runs on bare hardware or on top of a host operating system. Oberon is also the name of a programming language in the Pascal/Modula tradition. The Oberon project was launched in 1985 by Niklaus Wirth and Jürg Gutknecht. Although the project was originally targeted towards in-house hardware, the language and system have now been ported to many computer platforms and multiple CPU's.
Freeware, Open Source.
openPine OSFreeware, open-source. Requires only a 300 MHz processor and 32 MB RAM to run. Also runs games such SIM City 2000, Command and Conquer 95 and WORMS 97. No longer actively developed.
SingularityAn experimental operating system by Microsoft. The source code is available.
SyllableA GPL-licensed open source desktop operating system with modest hardware requirements, a 64-bit journaling file system, network support and a GUI.
SymbianWell known operating system for mobile phones and PDA's, now open-source
TAJFreeware multi-threaded, multi-user and multi-tasking operating system by Viral Patel (India).
VisopsysFreeware, open-source operating system for PC's. It is small, fast, has a GUI, real preemptive multitasking, and virtual memory.
 
Haiku (BeOS)
Haiku (BeOS) is a very fast, reliable operating system, designed from the ground up for multi-media performance.
For example, it boots under 15 seconds. It can run 10 full-screen MPEG videos simultaneously without any problems.
BeBits.comTons of freeware and shareware programs running on Haiku (BeOS).
HaikuOpen-source and freeware recreation of BeOS.
 
RiscOS
Cortex A8 portRisc OS port to various hardware devices, such as BeagleBoard, DevKit8000, IGEPv2.
DrobeArchive of Risc OS related articles.
IYONIX PCA complete and fast desktop computer with ARM processor running RiscOS.
More RiscOS computers can be found here.
Risc OS for the Raspberry PIRisk OS now is also available for free for the small and cheap Raspberry PI computer.
Risc OS OpenThis site contains the source code of RISC OS and provides assistance to anyone who is interested in developing commercial products using RISC OS.
RiscOSHomepage of the RiscOS operating system which was originally created by Acorn Computers in 1988. RiscOS runs on ARM-based processors.
RiscOS 5 OverviewUnlike earlier versions, RISC OS 5 runs entirely in the ARM's 32-bit mode making it suitable for the latest ARM processors such as Intel XScale, ARM9 and ARM10 based devices.
RiscOS Products DirectoryLarge RiscOS directory of software, hardware and other information.
RiscOS Solo:
the Green computer
A rugged RISCOS computer, which can run on Solar energy. Intended for use within Third-world countries where its ultra-low-power design enables it to be used far away from sources of mains electricity.
RiscOS.infoResources and news related to RiscOS.
RPCEmu Spoon EditionEmulates an Acorn RicsPC and A7000 on Windows, Linux, MAC.
Virtual AcornYou can also run RiscOS on a regular Windows PC using this Acorn emulator. Cost: around $ 60.
 
OS/2
eComStationNew version of OS/2 which can run existing OS/2 applications, as well as Java, Windows 3 and DOS applications. Price: around $ 300.
 
Commercial Operating Systems
MAC OSThe Operating System for the iMac and other Apple computers.
A site with lots of good Mac related links is The Page.
Plaszma OSA linux-based operating system for native and web based applications for the ZMS processors and Plaszma platforms.
QNXReal-time operating system with UNIX-like functionality.
SkyOSSkyOS is an operating system written from scratch for x86 PC's. As required for a modern operating system, it supports features such as multiprocessor support (SMP), 64-bit journaled filesystem, virtual memory, memory protection, multitasking and threading etc. Additionally, SkyOS has a built-in GUI system named SkyGI.
VAX and AlphaAn interesting initiative is the "OpenVMS and the OpenVMS hobbyist licensing Program". For a few hundreds of dollars you can now own your own (secondhand) VAX or Alpha computer!
 
Java Operating-systems
JnodeA free, open-source, Java technology based operating system implemented in Java with a very small assembler nano kernel.
 
Windows
Although not abundantly fast and user-friendly, Windows is by far the most wide-spread Operating System for Desktop PCs.
WineWine allows you to run quite a number of Windows applications on Linux, BSD, Solaris and MAC OS x (without the need to pay for a Windows license - it is fully legal). If you run a Unix-like operating system, then it is likely that Wine is already installed on your system. Otherwise the package manager (built into your Linux distribution) will be able to download/install wine for you.
litePC.comProducts for customizing, optimizing Windows operating systems. By removing or replacing certain Windows components, performance and stability can be improved.
ReactOSReactOS is an Open Source effort to develop a quality operating system that is compatible with Windows NT applications and drivers.
 
TreePad X Enterprise
384 Gigabyte Personal Information Manager and Word Processor.
Intuitive and versatile, including Website Generator, spellchecker, thesaurus, attachments, search engine, recycle bin, and much more! For Windows and Linux/Wine.
Click here to get the free evaluation version.
 
DOS and DOS clones
FreeDOSFreeware DOS clone, Y2K compliant.
MS-DOS 7 from WindowsHow to get MsDos 7.0 from Windows 95 or Windows 98
The World of DOSDos command index, tips and tricks, history, batch files, autoexec.bat, config.sys, etc.
RDOSOpen source DOS clone, free for non-commercial use.
DosBoxAn open source DOS emulator especially suitable for running old DOS-based games. It emulates an Intel x86 PC, complete with sound, graphics, mouse, modem, etc., for running many old DOS games that are not compatible with modern Windows PC's. You can download versions for Linux, Windows, MAC, Risc OS, Solaris, OS/2, BeOS, Zeta.
DosEMUEmulates DOS on Linux. Freeware.
SealOpen source GUI for DOS.
MS-DOS CommandsPage by ComputerHope listing all MS-DOS commands.
 
Boot Disks and Portable operating systems
BartPEBart's PE Builder creates a bootable/portable version of Windows using a regular Windows DVD (only Windows XP, 2000, 2003 are supported). You can copy this bootable Windows version to a USB disk and start your computer from that USB disk.
Bootdisk.comFreely downloadable boot disks for Windows, DOS, Linux. Also: installation guides for Windows, links to drivers and DLLs.
Linux live CD'sThe various Linux live CD's (such as Ubuntu or Fedora) can be used to boot a full working operating system directly from a CD without installing anything.
 
Open source BIOS
The BIOS is a small piece of software that runs on a more fundamental level than your operating system, firewall or anti-virus program. Since it comes with your computer hardware and is some type of 'permanent' software, the BIOS is also called 'firmware'.
Believe it or not, proprietary BIOS can pose a hazard for your computer security, just like a some operating systems or software. For instance, a number of computer manufacturers put extra 'functionality' (such as LoJack/Computrace or Intel's VPRO) in the BIOS which in many ways resembles spyware and rootkits. This software seems to be well-intended on the surface, but it could leave the door open for professional hackers, criminals, intelligence agencies and industrial spying. For more information, see this article on LoJack or this article on Intel's VPRO.
It does not help running a secure operating system or a good firewall if your BIOS is not secure and the BIOS programming code is not open to independent review. Hence the need an open source BIOS.
CorebootFormerly known as LinuxBios. It aims at replacing the proprietary bios which you can find in most computers.
OpenBIOSProject dedicated to creating and promoting free and open source firmware implementations.
 
High Performance Computing
Build your own Tesla
Personal Supercomputer
Instructions on how to build your own (relatively low-cost) personal supercomputer using a standard PC motherboard and one or more Tesla GPU cards. Each Tesla GPU uses a massively parallel CUDA computing architecture supporting C++, 1 terabyte of memory and a 64-bit virtual address space.
insideHPCNews and articles related to high performance computing.
LinuxHPC.orgLinux high performance computing and cluster server portal: news, articles, references and resources.
Roy Longbottom's
PC Benchmark Collection
A large number of free benchmarks and reliability testing programs for PC's.
Top500 SupercomputersNews and articles related to supercomputing and the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world.
WinHPC.orgWindows high performance computing and cluster server portal: news, articles, references and resources.
 
Operating System Development
OSKitA framework and set of 34 component libraries intended to facilitate the development of new operating systems, or to enhance and extend existing ones. Open source.
ExOS libraryMIT Exokernel Operating System library.
OSDev.org"The place to start for OS developers": newsgroups, message board, OSDev.org projects.
 
Operating System-related sites
ExtremeTechDeep technology for enthousiasts and professionals.
FreeOS.comForums, articles and opinions related to free operating systems.
OSFirstTimerA set of videos of a mother trying out various operating systems. Great to watch!
Operating System
Documentation Project
History of and information on a large number of operating systems.
OS NewsDaily news on Operating Systems.
Review of
Operating Systems
One of the largest lists of Operating Systems, related projects, etc. on the Net.
 
Related Freebyte pages
Free Linux Operating SystemsLinux distributions, news, tutorials, education, Linux on ARM and more.
Free C++
Programming
Free C++ IDE's, compilers, libraries, tools, resources and tutorials for Linux/Unix, Windows, MAC, etc.
Free Cross-Platform
Programming Tools
Free programming tools, interpreters and frameworks following the principle 'create once, compile anywhere' or 'create once, run anywhere'. This means that once you have created your program using one of the tools listed on this page, you can compile or run it on multiple platforms without much (if any) adaptation.
Free Programming ToolsFree programming tools for Windows, Linux, etc. Free C++, C, Delphi, Basic, Assembler, Cobol, Pascal, Java, SQL, Databases; links to free compilers, databases, interpreters, IDE's, installers, components, libraries, languages, helpfile generators and more.
Free Anti-Virus SoftwareFree and non-free anti-virus software, free firewalls, free email protection software, free virus prevention software, tests of anti-virus programs, links to specialized anti-virus sites, information about virus prevention, useful evaluation versions of anti-virus software, etc..
Free Anti-SpywareFree utilities to detect and remove spyware.
Free Office SoftwareFree office suites, word processors, desktop publishing, text editors, personal databases, diagram software, presentation programs, fonts, document viewers, PDF utilities, thesauri, spellcheckers, document converters, etc.
Free ComputersFree used and recycled computers, mostly for schools, non-profit organizations and disadvantaged individuals.
Free File and Disk utilitiesVarious file and disk utilities.
Free Software
created by Freebyte
Free Personal Information Managers, free File and Disk Utilities, free Address Books, free eBook Software and more. All created by Freebyte.com.
Free System and
Administrator utilities
Free process viewers, system analysis tools, network monitoring tools, registry tools, task schedulers.
Free Technical SupportFree technical support for all computer-related issues: Hardware, software, PC, Windows, MAC, PDAs, Linux, drivers, Modems, dll's, virus.
Free Electronics on-lineFree PCB Design Tools, Circuit Design/Simulation Tools, Free Electronic Circuits, Connector and Pinout reference, Datasheets, Electronics Tutorials, Free Electronics Resources, etc.
 
Also check out our free software
for Windows and Linux/wine!
TreePad LiteFree organizer/information manager
exe-eBook CreatorFree eBook compiler
Freebyte BackupFree backup program
Fast File RenamerFree multiple file renaming tool
Custom Addressbook LiteFree addressbook
DisktectiveFree Disk-space reporting tool
HJSplitFreeware file splitters - multiplatform
Harddisk Search and StatsFree search engine for your harddisk
Freebyte ZIPFree zip/unzip program
 
Information wanted!
If you know of any good free and/or interesting Operating Systems,
which are not listed here, please let us know!
 
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Last updated on November 22, 2013

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