Operating Systems

Choosing an operating system isn't always a "choice." Often times it comes down to your budget and needs. Not everyone can give up mainstream OS's that don't have applications such as Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Office. So below, are helpful tips for each kind of system you may have.

Desktop

Linux

If you have a choice in your OS, we strongly recommended ditching Mac OS or Windows and moving to a Linux driven system. Yet, even with Linux you have choices to make.

Name Description Price
Tails Tails is a portable OS that you leave installed on a thumbdrive and use when you have access to a computer. This is a pretty secure option and it uses Tor as a default connection to the web, but is not realistic for most users. It is the most secure of the bunch, and is a great options for those who need the utmost security. Free
Qubes OS Qubes is an open-source operating system designed to provide strong security for desktop computing. Qubes is based on Xen, the X Window System, and Linux, and can run most Linux applications and utilize most of the Linux drivers. Free
Debian Debian is a Unix-like computer operating system and a Linux distribution that is composed entirely of free and open-source software, most of which is under the GNU General Public License, and packaged by a group of individuals known as the Debian project. Free
Fedora Fedora Workstation is a reliable, user-friendly, and powerful operating system for your laptop or desktop computer. It supports a wide range of developers, from hobbyists and students to professionals in corporate environments. Companies all over the world trust Red Hat Inc. because of their transparency throughout the whole development process. Free
Xubuntu Likely the most mainstream of the Linux distributions, Ubuntu is an easy to use OS alternative based on Debian and comes preloaded with many of the features you want and need. We chose Xubuntu because the Xfce desktop environment is faster, and the OS itself is more secure than regular Ubuntu. To learn more, read here. Free
Subgraph (Experimental) Another Debian based Linux distribution, it features security hardening which makes it more resistant to security vulnerabilities. Subgraph runs many desktop applications in a security sandbox to limit their risk in case of compromise. By default, it anonymizes Internet traffic by sending it through the Tor network. Free

Not sure which Linux distro is right for you? Check out Compute Freely and learn all about the options available to you.

Whichever Linux distro you choose, these guides can help you make it even more secure:

Duck Duck Go's Linux guide

Prism Break's Linux app alternatives

Mac OS

If you're going to use a mainstream OS, Mac OS is the way to go. It's much more secure than Windows and can be customized a bit for added security. If you're choosing Mac OS, we highly recommend using on the following guides to setting it up:

Duck Duck Go's Mac OS guide

Prism Break's Mac OS app alternatives

Windows

Long story short, don't use Windows. If nothing else, avoid Windows 10 by any means necessary. Windows 7 is likely your best bet if necessary. If you have Windows, the good news is you can dual-boot a Linux distro such as Ubuntu or Mint. If you're stuck using windows, however, here are some helpful guides:

Duck Duck Go's Windows 10 guide

Duck Duck Go's Windows 7 guide

Prism Break's Windows app alternatives

For additional security info and settings for Windows 10, visit PrivacyTools' "Don't Use Windows 10" section, here.

Mobile

iOS

Duck Duck Go's iOS guide

Prism Break's iOS app alternatives

Android

If you're using an Android device, it is highly recommended you install an alternative OS, which are listed below.

Name Description Price
LineageOS A free and open-source operating system for smartphones and tablet computers, based on the Android mobile platform. Free
Sailfish OS Sailfish OS offers a true independent alternative to the existing dominant mobile operating systems. Free

If you choose to continue using Google's default Android OS, here are some tips to enhancing your privacy:

Duck Duck Go's Android guide

Prism Break's Android app alternatives