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If you’ve spent any time at all with electronic devices, you probably have at least a basic understanding of an operating system. The operating system of a machine—often shortened to just “OS” when talking about it—is basically what drives its processes. It’s the system that helps the hardware and software in your device function appropriately within given parameters while giving you flexibility and control in how you accomplish your tasks.
You might know the names of Windows, the macOS, Linux, or others, and your devices will probably use a version of these in order to handle their processes for daily tasks.
There are other systems out there to choose from, however, and many of them are custom ones that are designed to do specific things or deviate from the more conventional OS choices you might know. We’ll discuss what custom operating systems are, how they can be beneficial, and possible safety concerns associated with them in our article below.
To some extent, even the major operating systems with which you might be familiar are custom operating systems. They are designed in specific ways that are different from each other, and they might perform similar functions in their own ways. Much of this functionality is present behind the scenes, but there are ways to get into the details of how one OS might be different from another.
Even from within the same operating system family, there are customizable elements that are able to do different things.
For example, the macOS general operating system from Apple is one that you might know. However, an Apple smartwatch might use the watchOS, a different operating system that is designed to do things in ways that are specific to watches rather than desktop computers or Macbooks.
These things are separate from each other, and they are customized, but they aren’t necessarily what we mean when we talk about custom operating systems for the purposes of this article.
We’re using the term “true” here just as a way to differentiate between the customized operating systems you might find in different versions of Windows, Mac, or many others that create various systems that specialize in running different devices.
When most people talk about a custom OS, they’re talking about one that isn’t built by one of the “big names” in the industry. Further, they are probably talking about something small that is built by one or two people. This is a good way to start thinking about custom operating systems.
With sufficient knowledge, you could build a custom operating system in much the same way that you might build your own house. If you’re doing everything yourself with limited resources, your house might look small compared to other houses on the market.
However, you’ve created the house that you wanted, and it looks the way you want it to look. Above all, you created it with a specific purpose in mind, and it does the tasks you want it to do within the framework you’ve provided.
The same principles hold true for a custom operating system. A custom OS can be as big as you want it to be. However, a big, fancy operating system on par with Windows or something similar will take a lot of time, resources, and labor.
The one key thing to remember here is that you can build or use a custom OS for whatever you want, as long as you’re able to devote the energy to giving it the resources it needs. Of course, there are also custom operating systems out there that you can use if you know what to look for, as long as they’re able to perform the specific functions that you need and the developer has put them out there.
Here is where we once again give you a great answer that is both yes and no at the same time. A custom operating system can be safe or unsafe depending on what you’re doing and how. We’ll take you through the differences below.
One of the major ways a custom operating system could be considered safe is in how it is shielded from attacks. As technology grows and expands, so too do the capabilities of malicious actors to try to hack, attack, brick, or otherwise compromise your devices. Sometimes, they can compromise other parts of your life besides just messing with your electronics.
However, in order to get at your devices, they need to write code that is designed to attack your operating system. This is easier to do if it is an operating system that they know and study, and it is also one that is used by millions of people.
In short, a standard and known framework can be easier to mess with. We should note here that big, standard operating systems like Windows or macOS are aware of these problems and implement various security features and continuous updates in an effort to keep users and their data safe.
Still, if you’re using a custom OS, it can make it more difficult for malefactors to get access to or compromise your device. Depending on which custom OS you are using, you could be one of a select few people operating it.
Even if it is used by a relatively large number of people, a custom operating system is going to work with a different framework across different parameters from one of the big ones that you might know. This fact alone can make it harder to gain access to your devices and data. There is still risk here, but it is mitigated by the relative unknowns of a new OS.
On the flip side, using a custom operating system can be risky, too. Mostly, this relates to how much you know about custom OS builds, or how much you understand about the specific custom OS you would like to use.
It is a good idea to read up on the custom system that interests you and learn all you can about it. Even then, it is best to download a custom OS only from trusted sources or those rated highly from within communities that develop, share, and discuss them.
Although there is little risk of anything malicious coming with your custom OS, downloading and installing one without knowing how it might interact with your device could cause huge problems in performance or functionality, and it might be hard to get your device back to normal afterwards.
Some operating systems may not play well with your device, and you should be aware of that before installing anything. Always keep a backup handy, and get custom OS builds from sources that you trust.
The specific pros and cons of a custom operating system are dependent on the ROM, and they can vary from one to another. However, we will attempt to provide you with some of the general pros and cons you are likely to find when dealing with your average custom OS.
1. Better privacy.
Although this can be highly dependent, many custom builds do not necessarily need as much personal data from you as some of the standard operating systems.
You should be able to use programs as you want to without having to input your own data or give access to data that you would prefer to keep private.
Of course, make sure you are using a custom OS with a reasonable user base. Unpopular ones may have security issues or virus’ them.
2. Faster updating.
This is, again, general, but a custom OS means that you don’t have to wait or rely upon the manufacturer of your device to provide you with the latest updates. These updates could be related to security, performance, or many things.
Fasting updating as a benefit would apply only to custom OS that are popular.
3. More flexibility
Most devices will tie you to a specific brand because you rely on that brand’s software features and how they work in order to get the most out of your electronics. With a custom OS, you won’t be tied to a specific brand or the way they do things.
This could give you more freedom to use your devices in the customized ways that benefit you rather than only in the ways a manufacturer intends.
1. Possible bugs
This could be especially true if you are using an early or beta version of the custom OS. It is a good idea to wait until there is at least one stable release. An early operating system could need some refinement, and using it before this is done could result in some bizarre functionality as you are testing things.
2. Loss of features
This isn’t guaranteed, but it is possible that some custom systems won’t know how to communicate with various programs or apps. This means that you might lose the functionality of these things until the issue is fixed. In some cases, you may need to switch back to your original OS to restore functions to your device.
This might be rare, but if you flash ROMs that are not compatible with your device, you run the risk of bricking it in either the hard or soft ways. Always make sure that you’re using the appropriate ROM recommended for your device and version.
4. Slow Updates
If you choose a custom os that doesn’t have a lot of users, there’s a good chance that there are either no updates or updates are relatively slow. Unpopular custom OS could just be a person’s side project.
Custom ROMs can definitely be worth it if depending on your needs and the devices you’re using.
1. In many ways, a custom ROM can be a great solution for updating or upgrading old devices that might be considered in the low or middle range in terms of functionality. A different ROM could give you access to different, newer features without necessarily needing to buy a whole new device.
2. Many custom ROMs seek to enhance performance, functionality, and security over the stock ROMs that come with your devices. If there is a stable version of a different ROM out there that can do that for your electronics, it may be worth a look.
3. It is easier to make modifications and customize things to your liking with different ROMs. You may not get factory updates, but this could be offset by enhanced flexibility.
Stock operating systems or ROMs come with a lot of great features that many users enjoy today. However, a custom OS can be designed for different specifications, and this means that you might have more freedom to do things your way on your own devices. If you want to take a crack at increased flexibility that could also provide a boost in performance or security, it is worth it to at least learn about what ROMs and systems are out there from trusted sources.