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Why Doesn’t it Match My Experience? - BrainDump

The question of which platform is better for running a business, Windows or Linux, has inspired debates that are nearly religious in their vehemence. Two studies came out this year that purport to settle the question, at least when it comes to issues of security and reliability. Do they really provide a final answer, or just more fuel for the fire?

  1. What we can Learn from Two Linux vs. Microsoft Studies
  2. Secure the Databases
  3. Keeping it Running
  4. Why Doesn’t it Match My Experience?
By: Terri Wells
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December 12, 2005

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When these reports were linked to by Slashdot, particularly the second one, they caused more than a bit of controversy. Many, many Linux administrators chimed in to state their own experiences were much different; indeed, one talked about uptimes in excess of 700 days, including a Linux box that had been running for six years without requiring a reboot. Microsoft boxes, on the other hand, weren’t showing two years of uptime until 2003, and it was very rare at that, according to another reader. A third one pointed out that it might take longer to implement a new procedure on a Linux box, “But here’s the thing: Once it’s done, it’s done…if you count all the down-time and set-backs which can happen after implementation, you probably ultimately save a lot of time by going with a Linux-based enterprise.”

Another Slashdot reader observed that “You can write good as well as bad code both on Linux and Windows, and there are more than enough examples for both on both platforms.” It’s an insightful observation, if not entirely useful. On the other hand, when it comes to pain and ease of installation, another commenter said that “I remote-install and distro-upgrade Linux boxes (imagine updating Win2k to Win2K3 on the run without physical access) routinely. I don’t know of anyone who installs or upgrades MS-Windows that way.”

Of course, this again brings up the whole apples and oranges comparison, and whether using the two platforms is so different that they can’t really be compared. One Linux advocate pointed out that “the core difference in Windows and Linux is that most shops do a LOT more on one Linux/Unix box than one Windows box. Most Windows shops (ours included), have a Windows server for one specific task, perhaps two tasks. Most Linux and Unix boxes run many different tasks and as such you need far less of them.” That offers a level of simplification that the SI report likely did not take into account.

This brings us to an important point. Microsoft is selling a “one size fits all” product, while Linux’s modularity lets the user custom-fit the solution to what the business in question needs. Intuitively, we know that no one solution is the best one for all situations. There may certainly be cases in which Microsoft’s offering is the right answer, but as long as businesses have different needs, it won’t be the answer for everyone.

So if the two systems are so different, despite fulfilling similar functions, why do these studies exist? One Slashdot reader seems to have hit the nail on the head: “I think the flood of Microsoft biased studies in the last year go a long way toward bolstering Linux’s claims. If they weren’t to some extent true, Microsoft wouldn’t be trying so hard to discredit them.” Fortunately for Microsoft users, the company has also focused on improving its software, and indeed, it has become better in the last few years. But, to quote one last commenter, “it just doesn’t matter anymore. They blew it. Linux is here, it’s a lot more flexible, and it’s not going away.”

>>> More BrainDump Articles          >>> More By Terri Wells

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