First, you have to decide what you want to do with it. Are you going to use it for all your daily computing needs or are you going to install it on a second computer to play with it? Is there branded software that you absolutely need or can you settle for lesser known alternatives?
The reason we ask these questions is simple. Not all software can be found in all alternatives. Take for example, Dreamweaver. If you are in web development and require Dreamweaver (for whatever reason) you will soon realize that it doesn’t work in anything other than Windows. On the other hand, if you can manage with an alternative to Dreamweaver, chances are you can find one for almost any operating system.
Since we’re in the software business, we should be honest. There are many operating systems that will run on almost any hardware, but if you really want an alternative to Windows but need the same level of functionality, you probably want to use Linux. Linux has a much larger software base than most Windows alternatives and probably has better support. I’m not going to get into Linux here because there are too many flavors and variations.
Last but not least. What are you willing to put up with? When you use alternatives, you should be patient. There are very nice people out there who work a lot on these operating systems without any kind of payment. Sometimes it takes a while to get a new version of a piece of software transferred to your operating system. Take for example eComStation. New versions of Firefox and Thunderbird are usually ported, but it can often take a while after the Windows and Linux versions are released.
While this may sound scary, using an alternative operating system can be a lot of fun and rewarding. Many people spend many hours creating these operating systems as a hobby or some as a full-time job. If you find an operating system that you like, don’t hesitate to send an email to the official website telling them how much you like it.