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Operating Systems

The choice of operating system (OS) affects much of how we use our computers and what software is available to us. What OS makes you the most productive? What OS are you happiest to use or most familiar with? As with many things in life, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and as such, CTS supports multiple OSs on University-owned computers.

Supported OSs

CTS recommends that whenever possible, COE computers run operating systems under active support receiving security updates to patch vulnerabilities in a timely manner.

CTS supports the use of operating systems that come with at least 3 years of updates, including:

  • Windows (up to 2 versions behind current release)
    • Windows 10 LTSB/LTSC releases (10 years of security patches -- best choice for lab PCs controlling equipment that require Windows)
  • macOS (up to 2 versions behind current release)
  • Linux
    • CentOS (10 years of security patches for each major release)
    • Debian (3+ years of security patches)
    • Ubuntu LTS (3 years of security patches)

Running OSs in Virtual Machines

Creating a virtual machine (VM) is an excellent (and recommended) way to test out a new OS, gain access to software not available on your computer's main OS, or for any number of other reasons. We recommend using VirtualBox, VMWare Player, or HyperV as hypervisors and can provide limited support for troubleshooting issues. Other hypervisors such as KVM or Xen are available but are unsupported by CTS.

End-Of-Life (EOL) Operating System Policy

Once an operating system is within 9 months of its EOL, plans should be made for dealing with the eventual upgrade/retirement/replacement of the OS. Please contact us to discuss a plan and begin the upgrade process. Currently, this includes Windows XP, Vista, and 7.

For computers controlling equipment or otherwise running specific, unreproducible configurations where an OS upgrade is infeasible, we take the following steps to ensure their safe and continued operation:

  • move it to Drexel's private address space on the network if network access is still required;
  • make sure up-to-date anti-virus/anti-malware software is running
  • limit or disable web browsing (and install an ad-blocker extension if available)
  • set the firewall to exclude all incoming network traffic except necessary for management

Windows 7 End Of Life: January 2020

It's been a good run, but Windows 7 is set to stop receiving security updates as of January 2020. CTS recommends that all computers running Windows 7 be upgraded to Windows 10 if possible. If there's a specific reason a computer needs to continue to run Windows 7 past the EOL date, please review our EOL OS policy above.