Choosing your Ideal Operating System for 3D Projects

Home » Tutorials » Software » Choosing your Ideal Operating System for 3D Projects

Operating System Introduction

The operating system is the first thing you will install on a computer after building it.  It's what runs all the other softwares you choose to download and install.  It also allows the file management and visual interface.

Choosing the right operating system for your 3D project pipeline is crucial.  It will determine the efficiency of your workflow and the availability of some creative softwares.  If you're working at home, you OS will guide the appreciation of your system, and your ability to use it reliably and with ease.

There are 3 main choices when it comes to OS: Windows, MacOS and Linux.  All three are compatible with 3D production software, and equivalents to fill in the missing gaps.  However, these operating systems have different advantages, problems, specializations and caveats you may want to be aware of, beforehand.  Today, most 3D film and gaming companies use either windows or Linux, but the there is an exception for graphic designers, who generally all work on MacOS.

Microsoft's Windows OS

windows logo Today, Windows is still the most commonly used operating system on the market.  Most workplaces and laptop sold have Windows installed and the complementary Office Suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) even tho it is also offered on Mac.  Windows is easy to use and friendly enough, except when debugging is involved.  This could be caused either by a software of hardware malfunction, or malware.  However, recent versions of windows, like Windows 7 and Windows 10 are very stable and reliable, with the exception of windows 8.

Contrary to MacOS, windows does not include everything, but instead allows a very large ecosystem of software that you can download from the internet, most of them free.  For example, you may want to download another browser, such as firefox or chrome.  You will also need to download and install some driver software manually for components of your system, which is usually automated on MacOS.  If you don't know which OS to choose for your project, go with Windows.  This will allow you to keep all your options open, because everything is compatible with it.  Additionally, you can take advantage of the best prices, by selecting your own custom PC computer components.  Take a look at our computer components buying guide.


  • Biggest softwares ecosystem and free programs to download
  • Most softwares are compatible with this operating system
  • Can be installed both on PC and Apple Hardware, but it is made for PC


  • Requires some knowledge to debug technical problems with the OS
  • Greater prevalence of virus, malwares and vulneratilities



Apple's Mac OS

mac logoNowadays, who doesn't know about the Macintosh operating system (MacOS)?  The Apple logo seems to be everywhere around us these day, but it wasn't always this way.  Some time ago, Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, and the proprietary business model almost failed, when he got hired back into the company and launched the iMac and the iPod Brands.  This made the company rebound back, better and bigger than ever before.  Now, it has reached a cult-like status, with fans across every borders praising it's well conceived designs and user-friendliness.

For 3D work, MacOS is a good option for you if you struggle to solve technical issues with your computer, in general.  It comes preinstalled with specific Macintosh hardware and the compatibility has been optimized to work flawlessly.  Also, the Apple customer support is amazing, and the stability of the system is very solid.

You can even install the windows operating system, as a dual boot, using bootcamp.  You should know that there may be unexpected bugs in some softwares, that would not be present in a native windows on a PC hardware.   2D graphic artists, however, should definitely consider buying a Mac, as it is most prevalent in graphic design studios.  If technical working of a computer isn't your thing, go with a MacOS and hardware.



  • Very easy to use and stable
  • Almost entirely free of technical bugs
  • Almost no virus or Malwares
  • Can dual boot with MacOS and Windows



  • Mostly paid software ecosystem
  • Fewer choices in software compatibility
  • Tied only to Apple hardware
  • Quick Obsolescence


Mac-Specific Programs

  • Final Cut Pro



Linux OS

Tux - Linux MascottLast but not least, there is Linux.  Linux is a great and underrated open source operating system based on Unix, which is the same base as MacOS.  What is less known about Linux is that it is currently used to run most of the internet.   Indeed, most online web servers and web hosts use Linux as their day to day operating system.  There are multiple distributions available, developed and customized by different companies from the same base.  To name a few, here a a few examples, some of which even come free of charge for the full version.

  • Ubuntu
  • CentOS,
  • Fedora and
  • RedHat

If you're looking for a distribution to use for 3D work, we would recommend trying either CentOS or Ubuntu, in second place.  It can be installed on any PC computer that is able to run windows, and can even dual boot.  It can not, however run windows or mac applications.

One of the strong incentives to use Linux is the fact that it's the only free operating system.  The other big advantage is that it's open source, which allows you to customize just about everything with a bit of code.  On the other hand, Linux not made to be user friendly, it is made to be efficient.  It can be considered to be the opposite of MacOS, in that it is not necessarily elegant or easy to use, despite both being based on Unix.

Linux has a steep learning curve, and often requires a fair amount of knowledge in coding to make it work like you want it to.   This is true from installing drivers, to finding equivalents to your favorite window's programs.   If you're in for some digging through the internet and testing different scripts, then the rewards of making it work are yours to take.  Otherwise, you may rather prefer looking at the alternatives, like Windows and MacOS.  Linux runs on the same hardware as windows does, so you can benefit from all the same recommendations for all PC hardware components.



  • Secure (when properly configured)
  • Efficient (in resources, disk usage and code optimization)
  • Almost no virus/Malwares
  • Many free distributions available



  • Difficult to use for non technically oriented people
  • A narrower ecosystem for 3D software developments
  • Fewest in mainstream software compatibility
  • Can Dual boot with Windows or MacOS


Linux-Specific Programs

Photo-editing software for Linux

  • Krita
  • Gimp



Graphic Software Compatibility

3D software Logos

Compatible with all 3 Operating systems (Linux, Mac and Windows)

  • Blender
  • Maya
  • 3Ds Max
  • Mudbox
  • Mari (CentOS)
  • Cinema 4D
  • Substance Painter
  • Houdini
  • Modo
  • Unity


Windows and Mac Softwares Only

  • Photoshop
  • Zbrush
  • Premiere
  • After effects


Free alternatives to office, compatible with all OS

  • Google Docs (writer, sheets)
  • Libre Office
  • Free Office



Back to the careers Table of Contents blue curtain show stage Careers in the 3D Animation & Visual FX Industry

  Featured Sections   Artist Hubs:  

Tell us what you think, we welcome your comments!  Did we miss something?

- -


Join the Wombats

Opt-in our occasionnal newsletter to be the first to be informed of our new tutorials series, original content updates, special offers and important announcements!   It’s free and spam-free, plus you can unsubscribe at any time.

Follow @3Dwombat on Social Media