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Comparison of Operating Systems

Compared are these different operating systems:

Comparison of Operating Systems

Source: eylenburg.github.io

Last updated: February 2023

Windows macOS iOS/iPadOS Android Chrome OS GNU/Linux FreeBSD NetBSD OpenBSD DragonFly BSD Illumos Haiku ArcaOS RISC OS AmigaOS MorphOS AROS OpenVMS

General information
Developer Microsoft Apple Apple Google Google Linux kernel developers + distributors The FreeBSD Project The NetBSD Project The OpenBSD Project The DragonFly BSD Project Illumos Foundation Haiku, Inc. Arca Noae, LLC RISC OS Develop­ments Ltd. & RISC OS Open Ltd. Hyperion Entertainment MorphOS Development Team AROS Development Team VMS Software Inc.
History First re­lease in 1985. Early ver­sions were based on MS-DOS (1981-2000). Cur­rent ver­sions ("NT") star­ted as a fork of OS/2 (1987-2001). Early ver­sions (1984-­2002) were an in­depen­dent OS. Now based on Darwin (Mach, BSD, and NeXTS­TEP code), hence lineage going back to the ori­ginal UNIX from 1971. First re­lease in 2007. Based on Darwin (like macOS), hence lineage going back to the ori­ginal UNIX from 1971. First re­lease in 2008. Based on Linux. Typi­cally bundled with Google ser­vices. Google-free forks in­clude FireOS, LineageOS, or GrapheneOS. First re­lease in 2011. Based on Linux. A free and open source ver­sion called Chromium OS exists. First re­lease in 1991. Typi­cally bundled with GNU soft­ware. Various dis­tribu­tions exist, e.g. OpenSUSE, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, RHEL, and Arch. First re­lease in 1993. Forked from the Ber­keley Soft­ware Dis­tri­bution (1978-­1995). Lineage going back to the ori­ginal UNIX from 1971. First re­lease in 1993. Forked from the Ber­keley Soft­ware Dis­tribu­tion (1978-­1995). Lineage going back to the ori­ginal UNIX from 1971. First re­lease in 1996. Forked from Net­BSD. Lineage going back to the ori­ginal UNIX from 1971. First re­lease in 2004. Forked from Free­BSD. Lineage going back to the ori­ginal UNIX from 1971. First re­lease in 2010. Forked from Solaris (1993-today). Lineage going back to the ori­ginal UNIX from 1971. Va­rious dis­tri­butions exist, e.g. Open­Indiana and SmartOS. First re­lease in 2002. Star­ted as a re­implemen­tation of BeOS/ZETA (1995-­2007). In­depen­dent OS with some ori­ginal BeOS code (e.g. file ma­nager & desk­top). First re­lease in 2017. Based on the last re­lease of OS/2 (1987-­2001). First re­lease in 1987. In­depen­dent OS. Open source since 2018. First re­lease in 1985. In­depen­dent OS. First re­lease in 2000. In­depen­dent OS. Star­ted as a re­implemen­tation of AmigaOS (1985-­today). First re­lease in 1995. In­depen­dent OS. Star­ted as a re­implemen­tation of AmigaOS (1985-­today). Va­rious dis­tri­butions exist, e.g. Icaros Desktop and AROS One. First re­lease in 1978. In­depen­dent OS.
OS group VMS-like Unix-like Unix-like Unix-like Unix-like Unix-like Unix-like Unix-like Unix-like Unix-like Unix-like BeOS-like VMS-like n/a AmigaOS-like AmigaOS-like AmigaOS-like VMS-like
Kernel Windows NT XNU XNU Linux Linux Linux FreeBSD NetBSD OpenBSD DragonFly BSD Illumos Haiku OS/2 RISC OS Exec Quark AROS OpenVMS
Kernel type Hybrid Hybrid Hybrid Monolithic Monolithic Monolithic Monolithic Monolithic Monolithic Hybrid Monolithic Hybrid Hybrid Monolithic Microkernel Microkernel Microkernel Monolithic

Availability
Target devices
("workstation" = desktop/laptop)
Workstations, tablets, servers, embedded Workstations Phones, tablets, embedded Phones, tablets, embedded Workstations Workstations, tablets, phones, servers, embedded Workstations, servers, embedded Workstations, servers, embedded Workstations, servers, embedded Workstations, servers, embedded Workstations, servers, embedded Workstations Workstations, servers, embedded Workstations Workstations Workstations Workstations Workstations, servers
Pre-installed on laptops/desktops? Most devices Apple Mac No No Chromebooks Some devices Niche vendors No No No No No No Niche vendors Niche vendors No No No
Pre-installed on smartphones? No No Apple iPhone Most devices No Niche vendors No No No No No No No No No No No No
Can be installed by user? Yes ProhibitedCan be installed on normal x86 PCs ("Hackintosh") but this is against Apple's EULA and is a legal grey zone. No Yes Some devices"Chrome OS Flex", some features are missing or limited Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

CPU compatibility - stable releases
x86 (amd64) Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (32-bit mode) No No No Yes Yes
ARM (arm64) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No Legacy CPUs No No No No
Power (ppc64) No No No No No Yes Yes Legacy CPUs Yes No No No No No Legacy CPUs Legacy CPUs Legacy CPUs No
RISC-V (riscv64) No No No Experimental No Yes Yes Experimental Yes No No Experimental No No No No No No
LoongArch (loong64) No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No
z/Architecture (s390x) No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No

General features
Pre-emptive multitasking Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Memory protection Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No LimitedOnly in Qbox (used for low-level tasks), but not in Abox (in which all applications are running). Necessary for backwards compatibility with AmigaOS applications. LimitedSee AROS Wiki Yes
Symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No LimitedOnly in Qbox (used for low-level tasks), but not in Abox (in which all applications are running). Necessary for backwards compatibility with AmigaOS applications. Yes Yes
64-bit kernel Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No Yes Yes
Support for GUID Partition Tables (GPT) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Planned (v5.1) Yes No No No Yes
GUI/Desktop available Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Optional Optional Optional Optional Optional Optional Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Optional
Multiple users Yes Yes Deployments"Shared iPad", only for Education or Enterprise deployments Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No Yes
Native IPv6 support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No 3rd-party app No No No Yes
Hosting virtual machines Hyper-V Hypervisor if jailbrokencan install an app such as UTM to host VMs KVM KVM KVM bhyve NVMM VMMCurrently only supports OpenBSD and Linux guests, no graphics output NVMM KVM & bhyve w/ qemuUnofficial of Qemu without hardware acceleration, has to be installed separately. w/ VirtualboxUnofficial (and outdated) port of Virtualbox without hardware acceleration, has to be installed separately. No No No No No
OS-level virtualisation Containers No No No No LXC jails No No jails Zones No No No No No No No

File system support

Only shown if supported by the base install without any third-party packages.
Default NTFS APFS APFS ext4 Btrfs ext4, Btrfs, XFS UFS2, ZFS UFS2 (FFS) UFS2 (FFS) HAMMER2 UFS, ZFS OpenBFS JFS ADFS AFFS SFS SFS Files-11
exFAT Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No Read-only No No No No No No
NTFS Yes Read-only No No Yes Yes No Read-only Read-only Read-only No Yes No No No Read-only No No
APFS No Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No
ext4 No No No Yes No Yes Experimental No No No No No No No No Read-only No No
ZFS No No No No No Some distrosFor example, Ubuntu provides a kernel module Yes Yes No No Yes No No No No No No No

Connectivity
USB Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ethernet (wired networking) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
WLAN (wireless networking, "Wi-fi") Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 3rd-party app 3rd-party app Yes Yes No
WWAN (e.g. mobile/cellular Internet) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No No
Bluetooth Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes No No No LimitedUSB emulation only (e.g. for using bluetooth mouse or keyboard) No No

Security
Built-in firewall Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No NoRISC OS 6 had a firewall, however RISC OS 6 development has stopped; the currently developed version is confusingly called RISC OS 5 No No No No
Full disk encryption (incl. system) Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No
Per-app hardware access permissions UWP apps Yes Yes Yes Yes Flatpak/Snap No No No No No No No No No No No No
Sandboxing of apps by default UWP apps AppStore apps Yes Yes Yes No Capsicumnot supported by all applications No pledge/unveilnot supported by all applications No No No No No No No No No
VPN support (OpenVPN/Wireguard/IPsec) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No Yes

Openness
Software license Proprietary Proprietary Proprietary Apache, GPL Proprietary GPL BSD BSD BSD BSD CDDL MIT Proprietary Apache Proprietary Proprietary AROS Public Proprietary
Allows app "sideloading" Yes Yes Up to 7 daysInstallations are only allowed from the App Store, except for apps transferred as IPA files from a macOS or Windows devices, but they expire after 7 days Yes via ADBthrough Linux subsystem Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Can be used without online account Not officiallySetting up "local accounts" is hidden during setup, needs undocumented workarounds such as entering bogus account details No App Storecannot use App Store if not logged in with Apple account, but can still install apps from other sources Very limitede.g. cannot use App Store (and "sideloading" is not permitted on iOS!) or use iMessage if not logged in with Apple account No Play Storecannot use Play Store if not logged in with Google account, but can still install apps from other sources Noexcept guest accounts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yesbut need to purchase a license key to use the OS Yes Yesbut need to purchase a license key to use the OS Yesbut need to purchase a license key to use the OS Yes Yesbut need to purchase a license key to use the OS
No advertising ID (used for tracking) Advertising ID Advertising ID Advertising ID Not on AOSPWhile included in almost all devices, the Advertising ID is technically not part of Android but of Google Mobile Services Advertising ID None None None None None None None None None None None None None
Unlimited OS update supportWill the OS receive feature and/or security updates forever, as long as hardware requirements are met? Or is update support tied to the specific device (i.e. planned obsolescence) - and if so, how long are devices typically supplied with updates? Yes No (6-11 yrs) No (6-8 yrs) No (2-5+ yrs)Depends on device manufacturer. User-installed ROMs such as LineageOS may increase device lifespan to ~10 years No (4-9 yrs)Chromebooks (with Chrome OS preinstalled) have a limited lifespan in terms of updates. Chrome OS Flex runs on other laptops as well, but Google only officially supports the installation on "certified" devices, and certification of devices may end after which it is not recommended to install updates. Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (paid) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (paid)

Browser engine support (up to date)
Gecko (e.g. Firefox) Yes Yes No Yes Noalthough Mozilla gives instructions how to run the Android or Linux app of Firefox on Chrome OS Yes UnofficialFirefox UnofficialFirefox UnofficialFirefox UnofficialFirefox UnofficialFirefox Old (2008)Firefox 2 Old (2018)Firefox 45 ESR Old (2008)Firefox 2 Old (2012)Firefox 4 No No Old (2008)Firefox 2
Webkit (e.g. Safari, GNOME Web) UnofficialNo mainstream browser for Windows uses Webkit, but the engine is compatible with Windows. Yes Yes No No Yes UnofficialGNOME Web UnofficialGNOME Web UnofficialGNOME Web UnofficialGNOME Web No UnofficialWebPositive Browser No UnofficialIris Browser UnofficialOdyssey Web Browser UnofficialWayfarer Browser UnofficialOdyssey Web Browser No
Blink (e.g. Chrome, Edge) Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes UnofficialChromium UnofficialChromium UnofficialChromium UnofficialChromium No UnofficialFalkon Browser UnofficialDooble Browser No No No No No

Native application support
Microsoft Office core appsExcel, Onenote, Outlook, Powerpoint, Word Yes Yes Yes Yes Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version No
LibreOffice or CollaboraOffice Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Unofficial Unofficial Unofficial Unofficial Unofficial Unofficial Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version No
Adobe Creative Cloud core appsAfter Effects, Animate, Audition, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom, Photoshop, Premiere Pro Yes Yes LimitedOnly Animate, Lightroom, and Photoshop NoOnly Lightroom No No No No No No No No No No No No No No
Autodesk core apps3ds Max, AutoCAD, Fusion 360, Inventor, Maya, Revit Yes LimitedOnly AutoCAD, Fusion 360, and Maya NoOnly mobile version of AutoCAD NoOnly mobile version of AutoCAD No No No No No No No No No No No No No No
EU/UK banking appsPSD2 regulations requires 2-Factor Authorization to log in to online banking and to confirm payments. Most banks have stopped authorization via text messages or printed TAN lists and instead require the use of of their app or a specific hardware device. No No Yes Not on AOSPBanking apps will most likely only work on the original, unmodified Android ROM that was pre-installed on the device and includes the necessary Google components. No No No No No No No No No No No No No No
AAA-category video games Most Some Few Few No Some No No No No No No No No No No No No

Messaging & Conferencing - official apps

Open communication standards, e.g. E-Mail, SMS, Matrix, XMPP, or IRC can be implemented on any operating system as they don't depend on a specific application
WhatsApp Yes Yes Yes Yes Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version No Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version No
Telegram Yes Yes Yes Yes Web version Yes Unofficial Web version Web version Unofficial Web version Unofficial Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version No
Signal Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No
Microsoft Teams Yes Yes Yes Yes Web version Yes Web version Web version Web version Web version NoWeb version is not fully compatible with OS/available browser Web version NoWeb version is not fully compatible with OS/available browser NoWeb version is not fully compatible with OS/available browser NoWeb version is not fully compatible with OS/available browser NoWeb version is not fully compatible with OS/available browser NoWeb version is not fully compatible with OS/available browser No
Zoom Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (PWA) Yes Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version Web version NoWeb version is not fully compatible with OS/available browser NoWeb version is not fully compatible with OS/available browser NoWeb version is not fully compatible with OS/available browser NoWeb version is not fully compatible with OS/available browser NoWeb version is not fully compatible with OS/available browser No

Cloud sync - official apps
Dropbox Yes Yes Yes (no sync)Mobile app doesn't support real-time sync or folder pair sync, only camera upload and "offline files" are supported Yes (no sync)Mobile app doesn't support real-time sync or folder pair sync, only camera upload and "offline files" are supported No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No
OneDrive Yes Yes Yes (no sync)Mobile app doesn't support real-time sync or folder pair sync, only camera upload and "offline files" are supported Yes (no sync)Mobile app doesn't support real-time sync or folder pair sync, only camera upload and "offline files" are supported No No No No No No No No No No No No No No
Nextcloud (client) Yes Yes Yes (no sync)Mobile app doesn't support real-time sync or folder pair sync, only camera upload and "offline files" are supported Yes (no sync)Mobile app doesn't support real-time sync or folder pair sync, only camera upload and "offline files" are supported No Yes Unofficial No Unofficial Unofficial No No No No No No No No

Server applications
Web server (built-in, Apache, nginx) Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Old (2006)Apache 1.3.34 Old (2006)Apache 1.3.34 No Yes
Mail server (built-in, Dovecot, Exchange) Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No Yes
Nextcloud Server No No No No No Yes Unofficial Unofficial Unofficial Unofficial No No No No No No No No
XMPP server (ejabberd, Prosody, Openfire) Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No Old (2017)Openfire 3.4.5
Synapse (Matrix Server) No Yes No No No Yes Yes Unofficial Yes Unofficial No No No No No No No No

Can run other OS's apps?

Linux,
Android

iOSon ARM Macs,
Windowsvia CrossOver (third-party app)

Windowsvia Wine (third-party app)

Linux,
Android,
Windowsvia CrossOver (third-party app)

Windowsvia Wine or CrossOver (third-party app),
Androidvia Anbox or WayDroid (third-party app),
macOSvia Darling (third-party apps) - experimental support only!

Linux,
Windowsvia Wine (third-party app)

Linux,
Windowsvia Wine (third-party app) - Unofficial

Windowsvia Wine (third-party app) - Unofficial

Windowsvia Wine (third-party app) - Unofficial
BeOS

Windowsonly 16-bit apps as well as 32-bit apps via Odin32 (third-party app
DOS

AmigaOS

AmigaOS

Also worth mentioning...

There are of course many more operating systems, for an extensive list see here. I have not included the following:

Can I try out these operating systems in a virtual machine?

The below assumes that you're running Qemu, Virtualbox, or VMWare Workstation Player on a x86 (Intel/AMD) PC. Colour guide: possible old version emulation impossible

What about market share?

The below diagram shows the historical market shares of operating systems across personal devices (meaning "workstations", "PC", desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones, but excluding for example servers). At the bottom you will see a short genealogy of the major "consumer" operating systems. Many historical operating systems families are long dead, some other are somehow still alive but barely so or have stopped not targeting the personal computing or workstation market anymore.

In some cases, the old OS name has been kept even though its successor was a completely different product, technologically speaking. This includes Windows (versions up to Win 98 and Win ME based on MS-DOS, versions since Win 2000 based on NT), Blackberry OS (version 10 based on QNX), and macOS (version 10 based on the Unix-like Nextstep).

List of Browser Engines and their historical market shares

Click here to open the picture in a new tab