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Which laptop operating system do astronomers most often use?

  1. Apr 29, 2015 #1

    Currently I'm in my third year of university.

    I would like to work in the field of observational astronomy (not so much theoretical astronomy).

    In about two weeks I'm going to buy a new laptop portable computer in the 2000€ range.

    Firstly I was thinking to buy a Microsoft Windows PC, since every single one of my computers except one were Windows PCs (the one which wasn't was an Apple Mac OS X).

    But then I came across a thread on a Forum (I don't remember the name of the Forum) where someone said that astronomers usually don't use Windows PCs and that they generally use other operating systems.

    So I have some questions:

    - Is it true that astronomers don't usually use Windows like everyone else? If yes, why?

    - Which operating system(s) do astronomers most often use on their computers?

    - Do you think it would be a wise decision for me to buy a computer with an operating system different than Windows? (so that I may get accustomed to the operating system which I will need to use when I'll be an astronomer) If yes, which operating system would you suggest me?

    Thanks in advance for your answers.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 29, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    My guess is that they use Windows in their office and Linux for their lab equipment? This is a common practice in many labs.
  4. Apr 30, 2015 #3


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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Most astronomy conferences I've been to look like Apple advertisements, with a few odd PCs that run Linux. In term of what they use in their offices, it is more of a mix between linux and Apple. I only very rarely have seen someone using Windows.

    This is broadly true for Physics as well, but it's less pronounced than in Astro.

    The reason for this is that most Astronomers work with software designed for Unix based OS's.

    So, I would advise you to get either a Mac or a PC that you can install Linux on (the precise distro doesn't really matter). And you should get comfortable with the command line interface.
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