I'm looking compare Windows NT 6.0 (Vista) to a version of GNU/Linux of similar vintage, and I'm not referring to a particular distro, rather the OS the Free Software Foundation promotes. Does anyone know where I can find documentation on the internals of GNU/Linux as it was around the end of 2006?
The best I could do was use Google's Archive Search and then 'Advanced' to restrict it to 2006 Linux compared to Windows, year 2006. Other than that I can't really say, as others mentioned maybe choose a popular distro from around that time.
Comparing is complicated, these are mostly orthogonal approaches to computing.
Windows is more straightforward for daily use. It is achieved mostly by hiding everything from the user, to the point that advanced users have a hard time finding things. An operating system based on Free Software, like GNU/Linux distros, is less straightforward to nowadays average users.
Free Software never has anti-features, since being Free means that anti-features could be easily detected and fixed, and demoralize a project. No spyware, no malware, not even nagware. A Free Software will never consume your computer cycles and bandwidth doing stuff you wouldn't want it to do. It may be checking digital signatures from the distributor for your own security but you can disable it.
In general Linux is are stable and reliable, and in general more forward compatible (Think of MS Word format that suddenly starts saving documents in a format that is not even recognized by the MS Word sold a year before). And they cost zero dollars in royalties.
If you take the HD of a Windows computer and plug it on another computer, it will go crazy about not having the drivers and not understanding that hardware at all. If it has a standard Ubuntu install for instance, unless the other computer is too new or too old, it will work out of the box.
Windows comes in a DVD and can be installed in a few languages, or sometimes comes even bound to a given one. Most GNU/Linux distros come in a CD, and Ubuntu comes in several many languages.
Ah, Not all Free Software is promoted/endorsed by FSF.
Linux fully supports Windows filesystems. Windows does not support Linux filesystems at all.
Linux supports many standard secure encryption schemes out-of-the-box.
But for the Desktop applications, mail clients, web browsers, Office suites, media management, etc., I feel that at that time (2006), most of well-known Free Software was much less developed than it is now.