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Or are linux OSs the only way to go about it?

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You can check out the compatible Windows OSs for Hadoop:

Hadoop supports Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista and Windows 7. 

But, Windows are generally preferred for more server-oriented architectures. If you want to learn hadoop, it is highly recommended that you go with a Linux system or VM. Almost all hadoop tutorials are based on linux based systems and it's generally a more convenient practice to do the same. And that way, it'll be easier to find study material as well. 

To know more about Hadoop, enroll in this Big Data Hadoop course and get to learn from professionals.

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