Originally Published: Sunday, 4 June 2000 Author: Peter Gebauer
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Community Forum: The Superior Server OS

Just recently, I read a Swedish magazine called "Networks & Communication" which included the ultimate test -- the test that would reveal the superior server-side operating system. The four contestants were Novell, Solaris, Red Hat Linux (that figures) and Windows 2000.

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Just recently, I read a Swedish magazine called "Networks & Communication" ("Nätverk & Kommunikation", Nr 10 2000, published by IDG) which included the ultimate test -- the test that would reveal the superior server-side operating system.

The four contestants were Novell, Solaris, Red Hat Linux (that figures) and Windows 2000. How Windows 2000 even got in to this competition is beyond me since nearly all sysadmins are familiar with the inferior performance of Windows. What puzzled me even more is that the writer testing these operating systems gave the highest average score to Windows 2000!

Yes, your guess is as good as mine. What I think is the problem here, really, is that the tests were conducted by a person who didn't come from a Unix background. People who start with Windows and fail to move on eventually learn to loathe Unix the same way illiterates loathe books. Aside from grading the systems, which are already subjective judgments, he also gave away some "facts."

One of these "facts" were that Red Hat Linux 6.2 required 1.6 GB of free HD space and 16Mb of free RAM! For you who don't know anything about Linux, let me tell you, the Linux system will fit on a single floppy. In reality, you would need at least 100 MB of space to have a multi-purpose server running -- that is, Web, mail, DNS, news, file and printer server. But the installation for a server is no way near a gigabyte unless you include all the games, graphics and sounds for X. But as all IQ averages would understand, there is no need for X on a server running for the aforementioned purposes. If you can't manage the prompt, why are you the administrator? Also, 16Mb is only recommended, I have a 486 with 4 MB RAM at home which runs great. It doesn't have X, but then again, it's a firewall -- I don't need X on it.

Another "fact" was the pricing. The writer somehow believed that he had to pay for Red Hat's distribution. Little did he know that you can download it for free. Neither did he take in account one of the key issues when deploying servers: pricing per license, scalability and cost efficiency when scaling up.

Oh, my mistake, he actually did bring up scalability. Did you know that, according to the writer's research, Solaris is less scalable than Windows 2000? "Windows 2000 - now with the capability of clustering TWO machines." Wow, that ought to make Sun really scared. Two Intel-based, Windows 2000 machines. Imagine what wonders you could create with those. He says that he meant when using out-of-the-box-installations, but let's get real, Microsoft doesn't ship anything useful in their box either, which means that the only OS that is truly any good out-of-the-box is Linux.

On to the topic of integration. The writer's research revealed that both Linux and Windows 2000 had the same ability to integrate into networks. That's great! I didn't know that Windows 2000 could share NFS, use NDS, be a Mac print server and actually integrate Windows, Unix and Mac into one lovely network of mixed systems. Everyone who was ever under the impression that Microsoft tries everything to shut other operating systems out of their network was obviously wrong. As we all know, Linux is vastly superior to any other OS when it comes to support for multiple protocols.

As if this was not a mess enough he had to mention the documentation. Windows 2000 is the winner here as well. I wonder if the Internet connection wasn't working in that writer's office, because no other OS has ever been as documented as Linux. I think I could even find a HOWTO on making Linux run on your microwave or documents written by someone who compiled a kernel to make the sound card play "Fur Elise" when piping it to the DSP.

Perhaps the above statements are incorrect, but the fact that it is easier to learn Unix today (with Linux as a big OS) than it was five or six years ago makes Linux a powerful tool in learning Unix. Give me a Windows help file that not only reveals all the purposes with a function, but gives you hints to other similar functions and shows you the API documentation as well -- not to mention buglists. Did you ever see a Windows helpfile telling you what bugs ("features") the Windows API has and what is currently being done about them?

Well, I'm glad all you all can finally see from the research that this magazine conducted that Windows 2000 is the superior server! I'm glad we found that out. Can someone please tell the academic community that their Unix servers running simulations and databases for thousands of users are out of date?

Oh, and tell MSN at the same time that their Hotmail-servers should be upgraded to Windows 2000 as well. One would think that they should already have received the news about Windows 2000 being the best server OS.

What about me? Nah, I'm going to stick with my good old Linux installation. After all, who needs a "superior" OS for thousands of dollars anyway?

Peter Gebauer (peter@anothergalaxy.com) is a System Engineer who enjoys the company of penguins.

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