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Linux - What it can do for you PDF  | Print |  E-mail
GWoS Dot Org Consulting is a fervent supporter of the FOSS movement (Free and Open Source Software). As a result we are constantly asked to compare and differentiate between Linux and Windows. While both OS'es have their place, it seems fair to give a subjective look into why a business user should or should not espouse one over the other.

Release Pattern

Major upgrades to operating systems come very slowly. Windows 95 came out three years after Windows 3.11; Windows 98 would be released in 99, Win2k in 2001, and so forth. Other systems are similar. The major distributions of Linux, on the other hand, are releasing major updates every six months or so. Minor upgrades also take longer to acknowledge and fix in commercial systems. Releases arent fast enough to keep up with Minor bugs and bug fixes. This requires a lot of uneeded patching and fixing , most of which with respect to Microsoft product, you see in the form of a Service Pack or a Critical update. Linux systems dont befall this drawback, as most updates are performed on a level that enables a quick release pattern.

High Cost Variation

Commercial operating systems, especially server operating systems, like Windows 2003 Server can cost more than $400 for a single copy and limited number of user licenses. Liscense can go from 25$ and up. Even the more modest $200 for Windows XP can be a problem for people in developing countries, as well as students and others. The price for commercial systems almost never includes development tools, which cost even more. Linux, on the other hand, includes free C, C++, FORTRAN, and other development tools.

Technical Support

Commercial systems require their customers to depend on their companies for technical support. If there is a problem, users must often wait on hold. In the case of Microsoft, there was a long while that calling them was out of the question. While decentralized, it is often easier to get help with problems in Linux. Numerous forums, Paid support services, and local support developers create an envoirnment that makes it easy to support such a product.

Older Hardware

A growing computer industry requires that people periodically get faster and more capable hardware to keep up with the advances the industry makes. Microsoft does not make it a priority to maintain backward-compatibility with older systems when it releases new operating systems. While it is technically possible to run Windows 2000 on a 300mhz/128Mgs RAM machine (I have seen it done), it is not an experience any user would relish. Running Windows 2000 on any hardware less than a 500mhz with 128MB of RAM is an exercise in masochism. Cost becomes an issue again: until quite recently a new system would cost close to $1000; many people do not have the money to upgrade every two or three years. So that Pentium 2 becomes a very expensive paperweight unless there is a platform which can run on it acceptably. Linux is such a platform. Linux will run on a variety of older hardware, and will do so with the same energy and vibrance that a current release hardware system will run windows.

Viruses and Malware

The thrusted arguments that are caused by the above statement are themselves reason enough to consider the use of a Linux machine. Windows as a whole is largely responsible, directly or indirectly depending on your opinion, for almost all of the viruses and spyware/malware that exist. If not largely for their own mistakes in catching vulnerabilities in their systems, Windows in particular, the large number of threatening software out there would likely not exist. Linux systems dont suffer these vulnerabilities. While not vulnerability free, Linux itself is much more secure than most any Windows machines that are out there now.

Networking

Linux was developed, largely together, by Network engineers and Network administrators. As a result the system that you see was made to function in a network envoirnment. What this means for you is a system that will function in any network envoirment , whether it be Windows, Unix, Apple, Novell, or otherwise.

Linux is "Free"

Linux is "Free" in two senses. In one sense, the Linux consumer is free to modify the system and do anything he or she wishes with it. In another sense, acquiring Linux does not necessarily require any cash outlay at all. This in turn keeps TCO to a very low roar. Such a fact should appeal to any business minded person. Windows = 200$ per copy, Linux = 0$ per copy. The math is simple.

Linux is Reliable

Linux is one of the more stable operating systems available today. This is due in large part to the fact that Linux was written by programmers who were writing for other programmers and not for the corporate system. The only people who made the decisions on what went into the system were programmers. What does this mean in practical terms? In a recent issue of Linux Journal, a feature was run on how long a Linux system has continuously run. Several uptimes of over 1 year were reported. This is because the system is designed to be upgraded and modified "on the fly" -- the only reason one would need to turn off a Linux system would be to add hardware or boot from a different kernel. That means that the end-user can count on Linux to work consistently, day in and day out.

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