I have a friend studying Computer Networks and he recently asked me to download and install Ubuntu Linux, since he will be using it in college. I had already downloaded the ISO, so I decided to try it myself and I installed it on a spare disk. I had a very bad previous Unix experience while working for my Thesis (2000-2001), but Ubuntu is supposed to be a lot easier. Yes it is easier than classic Unix, but it has a very long distance to go to even come close to the ease of use of MacOS X! If one is lucky enough to find the application he needs in Software Center, or at least in a site as a DEB format package, then (in theory) he opens it and it is installed automatically. Sometimes even than is not enough since it has to be installed using the terminal. If it is not in DEB format, then things can get annoyingly difficult for the average user. If Ubuntu is supposedly the easiest Linux distro, imagine how hard is to use the other distros! I don't know about you, but I hate going on the terminal every few minutes just to do a simple thing! In MacOS X you get the application or driver in DMG format, open it and double click to install. Sometimes it's even easier since you just drag and drop the application in the Applications folder. On the other hand, Linux is free and open source, therefore it is easier to find drivers for your hardware. But if you then waste the whole day to just install them, there is little benefit! For example, Ubuntu comes with Libre Office preinstalled. While searching in Google, I found that Open Office is more compatible with Word/Excel etc documents, so I decided to download it. Although I had uninstalled Libre Office before installing Open Office, the installation was far from complete because there were traces of Libre Office left that made confilct with Open Office. The application could only be loaded using the terminal to run it directly. When I double clicked on a document I got an error that there was no application associated with this type of document, and I also didn't had any shortcuts for Writer etc on Launcher! I didn't manage to fix it at first, so I had to completely remove any trace of both Open Office and Libre Office and then reinstall Open Office. Then, as expected, it did work, but I had lost the whole day and my patience! So in my own opinion:
Ease of use: MacOS X is the winner!
Hardware compatibility: unfortunatelly, Linux is far ahead MacOS X, since Apple doens't support non-Apple PCs...
Software compatibility: MacOS X has vary good software support, hard to tell
This means that if all hackintosh experts/developers do their best and improve hardware compatibility through third party drivers (or even ports from Linux drivers) MacOS X will be the winner! Maybe this sounds stupid, but since both Linux and MacOS X are Unix-like, could one get the source of a Linux driver, modify it to include the relevant headers/libraries and compile it as a MacOS X driver? Is there any form of conversion that can be done to use Linux drivers in MacOS X? This would save all of us a lot of trouble...
I know you will hate it, but both MacOS X and Linux have a veeeery looong way to go to even come close to Windows in terms of compatibility. (Yes I am a PC fan, I use MacOS X and Linux for experimentation only, not for everyday computing). There are a lot of users that legally own Windows for a good reason. Obviously they are not stupid! We all like free, but if that comes at another cost (compatibility etc) we would rather pay money instead and have peace of mind. In Greece we say "you get what you pay for"... As for Windows viruses, yes if one is that idiot to use Windows without any protection, he is in trouble and is a matter of days (even hours) to screw his system. But if you have an Antivirus installed and update it regularly, there should be no problem. Of course it takes brains not to click YES at any pop-up window without reading it! Also when installing an application make sure to uncheck any box offering something extra. Most times this extra contains a trojan! So use your brain. Linux or MacOS X are not immune to viruses, they just don't attract hackers' interest (yet). If their user base increases and they do attract hackers' interest, it won't be long before they are infected. Also mosts servers run Linux and hackers attack big servers with success. This tells something about how "immune" non-Windows OSes are.