I'm trying to setup a home computer "lab" and I have a few spare working computers but no Operating Systems on them. Anyone know the cheapest or easiest (non linux) way to obtain Operating Systems for these computers to work?
Home Lab setup
Why non linux?
What kind of hardware are you working with?
What is your goal with these computers?
personally I'd build an ESXi server. you can install esxi for free. Then you can just go to microsoft and download a free copy of windows 10 that should be good for 30 days. you can probably just keep reinstalling it every 30 days or take a snapshot but i've never tried that. I would assume microsoft has ways of combating a person just reusing an old snapshot of their OS.
Again it depends on what you are trying to accomplish. But if you have a processor that is virtualization capable you can install ubuntu server and get some KVM going. open stack has several free microsoft cloud images you can use for 30 days.
If these are really old computers I'd go out and seek several fan edited versions of windows XP if you want to stick with windows environment. This comes with a giant warning because 1, these images are non microsoft and can potentially be embedded with backdoors 2, windows is not being patched by microsoft any more. But if you are ok with that then look up tinyxp. Use google to find it as technically xp is still a copyright property of MS.
Since we are walking the line here I will point out that upgrading from a pirated version of windows 7 will give you a valid windows 10 license still. <-- use that information as you will
For completeness sake with some serious tweaking you can install OSX on an Intel based machine dubbed a Hackintosh. OSX is not DRMed so updates and copies of the OS are pretty easy to come by especially if you already have a mac.
Putting alll that aside I will say just go with a linux distro and use WINE if you have critial apps that need to be run on windows platform. As a person who has spent their whole life on windows I can tell you that Linux isn't a scary big monster as some might think. You might actually like it better. I know I've fallen in love with apt-get install -s and I wish windows had something like it.
I guess I could use linux, I do have ubuntu 15.04 and was thinking of getting Mint or other. I just was thinking windows based on most of the computers so I could 'practice' some networking... that is my main objective with these computers anyway.
when it comes to "Practice networking" you can't get anymore versatile than linux. You can do crazy things that you'd be hard-pressed to do on a windows machine. Custom Routes is something that pops into the top of my mind.
But honestly look into esxi if your hardware can handle it. you can set up virtual routers , virtual firewalls, and virtual switches all in one box.
super fun stuff.
Thanks for the help. I will definitely look into esxi and I changed my mind, and will go with linux. Thanks again!