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Try 10 OSes You've Never Heard Of

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After a wave of operating system releases, it’s easy to become somewhat bored with the software side of computing. Windows 7 is here and looking like the ‘real’ Vista for many; Mac OS X 10.6, meanwhile, adds spit-shine to Leopard and gives its engine a good tuning too. In the Linux camp, distributions are taking regular steps forward in usability. But it’s all become rather routine; a case of incremental improvement rather than revolution.

So where’s all the real fun happening? Where are the radical new ideas, the Wild West code commits and the geekery and hackery that really drive innovation? Well, it’s all going on in the alternative operating system world. There are hundreds of projects in varying stages of development, from small, one-man-band shows to serious attempts at mounting an assault on the desktop.

We’re going to look at 10 of the most intriguing open-source operating systems in this brave new world. In most cases these are available as CD ISO images that you can burn to CD-Rs and boot up for testing if you fancy it. Alternatively, a simpler approach is to use a PC emulator such as VirtualBox or Qemu. With these and similar tools you can use ‘.iso’ image files (or ‘.flp’ floppy disc images) as virtual drives, so there’s no need to write any physical media.

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