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Unix Operating Systems Software

A Strategic Comparison of Windows Vs. Unix 792

Posted by Hemos
from the which-when-better-who dept.
Ramsed writes "On LinuxWorld Paul Murphy wrote an article comparing Unix and Windows for a 500-student system and a 5,000-user manufacturing company. Summary: Most of the Windows versus Unix debate has been cast in terms of which is technically better or which is cheaper, but the real question is, 'Under what circumstances is it smarter to pick one technology rather than the other?'"
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A Strategic Comparison of Windows Vs. Unix

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  • The terse answer to this is simple: Windows is easy to learn and hard to use, while *nix is hard to learn but easy to use.

    Windows also suffers from this debilitating illness known as the 'Blue Screen of Death', which provides employees with instant five minute coffee breaks at the cost of whatever files the employee or student was working on. (At least when my power spikes, I know Emacs has an annoying tilde file with most of my data in it ;)

    • by orange_6 (320700) <jtgalt&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @07:44PM (#2475196) Homepage Journal
      Having working in a campus environment for a good part of the last 4 years I can say that not everyone wants to learn something new, let alone spend the time to familiarize themselves with software packages they are unfamiliar with. Only students of Comp. Sci/Comp. Eng. are for the most part willing to do this, and even some of them are not.

      While the article states that there would be the need for only a single *nix support position, and four Windows support positions, we must think of this: How many additional postitions would have to be created to train students (even rudimentary training) for an infrastructure they are not accustomed to? I would guess at least 10, but depending on the size of said campus, it could grow to an exorbant amount, overshadowing the cost of the initial startup costs.

      The campus I am at now is a great example (Northern Illinois) and especially the labs I work in (art/music). There are plenty of Mac's here for people to use, but unless they are die-hard Mac-heads or it is required to use them for a class, 99% of the students stay away from them for the sole reason that it is unfamiliar territory. This made the campus cut down to a single Mac support position for the entire campus (which has over 200 macs), solely because of peoples inability to accept things that are different.

      Look at the makeup of the world's computer market, 90+% Windows. People fear change and are afraid to learn. Even in academia.

      Later
      Josh
      • At our school every incoming firstyear is required to take the basic computer class. This is the easiest way for a university to deal with unfamiliar territory. (Also a great padding for us CS majors :-P) Also the fact that a campus only needs one Mac Tech is a testiment to how well the mac operating system is to use. I'm the only one here for a campus of 2500 students :)
      • We had Windows 3.1 workstations and all internet access was through a DEC Ultrix box using (gasp) Telnet and FTP... Our web-browser was Lynx (I am NOT kidding).

        Who trained the students, you will ask? The same few people that taught them Windows apps-- underpaid students like myself working part time for the college. But people had remarkably little problem EVEN THOUGH this was a college with its share of technophobes. While the comp-sci students were playing with Solaris, Linux, and NT, the rest of the workstations had laminated tips for using the csh from telnet as well as ftp commands.

        Funny, lots of technophobes used Lynx and Pine and few asked for help. OK it was back in '97 but still I maintain with a little bit of help, people will learn the basics of their jobs quickly.

        If I were to design a network for a college today, I would probably use Unix for most of it and allow Windows workstations to participate (SAMBA is great)...
    • by CaptainSuperBoy (17170) on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @07:48PM (#2475220) Homepage Journal
      There are many reasons to dislike Windows. Reliability, however, is not one of them. My desktop running Windows XP hasn't crashed yet due to software. Individual programs crash, sure, but the OS is rock solid. My laptop running Win2k has gone for up to a week without rebooting - that's going between multiple network environments, hardware configurations, and going in and out of suspend and hibernate.

      Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons to bash Windows such as lackluster security (although a patched system can be as secure as a patched GNU/Linux installation).

      Working with end users, I find that Windows is both hard to learn AND hard to use. Nobody's figured out how to make a truly intuitive interface yet, including Linux and Windows. Users don't get or accept the concept that there are multiple ways of doing things - they get locked into the first technique they learn, such as going to the file menu and clicking exit rather than hitting the big x. They are STILL afraid of breaking things, which is unfortunately still a valid fear.
      • Users don't get or accept the concept that there are multiple ways of doing things - they get locked into the first technique they learn, such as going to the file menu and clicking exit rather than hitting the big x.

        This is the single most important aspect of user interface design. And this is what Mac OS and, I propose, Python do so very well.
      • OK I run IIS 6, Win XP, IE 6 and numerous other applications on a P3 (600MHz, 256 MB RAM) and after a week of uptime with 20 open IE windows, the whole system needs a reboot. OK so this is a little excessive, but the memory fragmentation will cause some applications to be unable to operate and they will begin to consistantly crash. I can prolong the uptime for a short period of time by closing IE and then opening as necessary. But not for too long. It is still stable enough for a on-only-during-the-day OS...

        Enter Linux. A P2 (333MHz, 160 MB Ram) is running 33 java executables for jsp development, etc. It is also running PostgreSQL and MySQL, but not X. It is also running Apache with countless modules (including mod_ssl and mod_php), tomcat, etc. It is also a fileserver (SAMBA) and running almost every other network daemon I can think of. Uptime currently 48 days (last down for a memory upgrade). Yes, it usually uses at least some swap space.

        Problem is-- XP is still a workstation OS and cannot be left on continuously for extended periods of time without problems.
        • I'm not sure what your problem is. I run win2K Pro with BETA software, ASP.NET, IIS, SQL Server, multiple IE windows, Opera, Mozilla 0.9.5, and Netscape 6.1 (ya, I actually test my web apps on non-IE browsers), with BETA visual studio.net (VERY buggy), Cold Fusion Application server, all at the same time on a PIII500 w/256megs of RAM. Oh, and I play half-life after 5:00 (with half of that crap running)! I've only crashed the box a couple of times due to crappy OpenGL support for ATI when playing half-life. However, during WORK time, I've never had to take a 5+ minute brake due to an OS problem - I just work, and it works. All of my friends testing XP are saying that it's more stable and faster.

          I'm no MS zealot but I know my facts. I'm sorry that your machine is so unstable.

      • Absolutely correct. The uptime on my w2k was interrupted only by hardware problems and service patches.

        How about someone rating the MTBP (mean time between patches)? The MTBP is a far bigger problem than the MTBF.

        I did have some problems with w2k initially. All of my problems were due to PC Anywhere, a bad Matrox driver, a bad SB Live! driver (SMP bugs), and a stick of memory that went south.

        Maybe the reason my w2k box ran so well was my Enermax 350W power supply. I think people who run Unix also tend to build better boxes.

        Despite the impressive months-at-a-time stability I experienced with w2k, this machine is now running Debian. After my memory went bad and I contemplate rebuilding my software environment with all the correct patches and drivers I came down with a serious case of patchitis.

        Let me tell you, though, that dselect is no walk in the park either. Ever installed ext3 on Potato and then discovered that the XFree on Potato needs some extra TLC to run dual-head, so you go ahead and run Testing anyway?

        What's the net cost of Potato running two years behind the times?

        Unix guys are like the people who spend two weeks at the beginning of summer painstakingly ridding their yards of every weed and vermin, and then spend the rest of the summer drinking beer in their hammock hurling abuse at their neighbors who have to spray their Dandilions every other week.
      • That fear is very important. It blocks growth quite effectively. When people ask me how I got to be so good at computers (I do volunteer work at local elementary schools fixing computers) I tell them that I learned by breaking them. My first 386 especially, but also my 166mhz. I would play with everything in them and 'break' the things horrably, messing up the autoexec and (more often) messing up programs called by autoexec, causing the computer to crash before I could input anything. I dealt with physically broken computers too, and I can amaze people with how fast I can isolate problems to hardware(a common problem being a loose ide cable).

        While these things aren't rocket science, you dont learn how to deal with these problems unless you are willing to pull up your sleevs and jump in. I wasn't afraid to 'break' my system repeatedly because it was fun to mess with the thing and I learned alot from what broke various programs and what fixed those same problems. On the way I learned how to use features of the OS and apps that most people are afraid to mess with.

        I look at my parrents fiddling with the computer and I watch my 6 year old mess with the computer. They both have the same proficiency, but with one big difference. My parrents are afraid. Because of this they aren't learning much. Heck, they have done word processing for years, but only know about as much as my 6 year old that I have only let use the computer for a few months(and she can't even read yet!)

        I can sort of see why people are afraid. Computers are expensive things to be messing up.To learn them well is complicated, time consuming and difficult.

        Well, hopefully things like the Gateway Goback will help lessen the fear. Being able to 'goback' to before a driver messed up or installation went bad is pretty darn nice; wish I had that back in the dos days :>

        Heck, maybe WinXP with its over-simplified candy-coated interface will make computers seem less intimidating. That seems to have been its purpose. If it actually works that way then it may actually be worth the evil it will cause. I think that anything that brings more computer-savy females is ultimately a good thing. ;>

      • My laptop running Win2k has gone for up to a week without rebooting - that's going between multiple network environments, hardware configurations, and going in and out of suspend and hibernate.

        Hmmf. I use Win 2K part of the time mostly for work purposes and sometimes play Unreal Tournament on it (yeah, I *know* there is a Linux port). After about an hour of UT, the machine generally locks up solid. Perhaps UT is a badly written program, but a stable OS isn't brought down by bad software. Windows has a rep of being unstable because it *is* unstable.
  • I Have Mirrored The Page To Be Safe in case of server overload --
    http://erickrout.com/comparison.html [erickrout.com]
  • The deck is stacked against windows.

    It's a large-scale Sun or the like server with "Smart Terminals" a.k.a. Dick..err.. diskless workstations a.k.a. X-terminals vs. a PC network.

    I would like to see a comparison in there that also includes Linux workstations and either Unix or Linux servers.
    • True, they used diskless workstations, SunRays to be exact. Some say they are just glorified x-terms, but having used one I would say that they are much more than that. First they have a smart card port, ergo the school or workplace can switch their id cards to smart cards, thereby creating an easier way to logon to the systems. In the case of a school, where computer labs are for everyones use, it allows for customization of desktop and software. A large Sun server is a lot more reliable than Windows boxes, and replacing a broken SunRay is cheaper than replacing a broken/out-of-date PC. Although the PC may be faster, Sun servers, and therefore the SunRays, aren't exactly slow, and they need replacing less often as the article mentioned.

      Basically, what I am getting to is that it is perfectly legit to compair PCs vs SunRays in this situation. It is the way Sun is trying to get businesses to move. Cheaper, more reliable, more secure, and the performance hit is not significant for what most people do.
  • Its a maxim I teach my web development students every day. I run a windows/linux/mac environment on my home network, and run Apache/Tomcat/PWS on one of my windows boxes and use my Linux/Apache/Samba server as a live web server while windows is for development. My Mac I use for design and Photoshop work. I love Linux and OSS, but I'll still choose the best tool for the job--which is why I look at all the tools I use with a critical eye. Having the source avaiable and free (in both senses of the word) makes a tool valuable to me, but if it still isn't best-in-breed for what I need, I'll spend money on it.

    Dreamweaver UltraDev 4 w/ Homesite vs Frontpage 2000 -- there's no comparison.

    For a server, Linux always. For a web programming environment, sometimes I'll choose Windows, sometimes Linux--depends on the client's needs. For design, it'll always be a Mac.

    Best tool for the situation I say.

    • netboot iMacs (Score:3, Informative)

      by green pizza (159161)
      For design, it'll always be a Mac.
      Best tool for the situation I say.


      Our department his a small public usage lab of newer iMacs (700 MHz G3 w/ 512 MB PC100 ram). To make life a lot easier, we setup Apple's netboot software on an OS X server and configured the stock harddrives on the iMacs for use as a scratch/temp drive for user use. The setup has been wonderful... boot times are a bit longer than normal, but still not too bad. There is no such thing as software maintainance on any of the iMacs anymore as the internal drives are simply a free for all space (though we do find some FUNKY stuff on them every now and then). The users are happy and do everything from web surfing to DV firewire video editing on the machines. Though, I have to admit, 50% of the users in that lab simply burn CDs with the iMac's internal CDRW.
  • The summary posted here promises more than the article delivers. Though making some vague gestures towards the end, the bulk of the article just focuses on money. For that, of course, Linux wins hands-down. Nice tables, though.
    • "Linux wins, hands-down."
      A rather glib statement to make with no supporting evidence, don't you think?

      No, it's not the type of technical article you're used to or care about, but it does show some of the financial technicalities we may be faced with. What are these articles good for? Changing mindsets and causing businesses to question things, that's all. If *nix is to fend off challenges in the server room and make headway in the application space, it needs more of these.

      Why? Well, a CIO may be a real hacker like you and know that *nix is better under the hood, but he needs concrete proof that it will speak the language of his boss, the CEO (or *shudder* the CFO). That language is that of business - the almighty buck, black ink, Shareholder value, whatever you call it, my friend, it's the bottom line. In order to win over those executive or business types who are blinded by the FUD surrounding *nix (that it's hard to use and expensive to admin) it has to be shown that it puts a significant amount of money back in the hands of his company's stakeholders (shareholders or taxpayers) and out of someone elses greedy little paws. Then they will start to seriously look at a *nix solution since the Return On Investment can be shown to be significant.

      I personally appreciated this article (e-mail to my CIO leaving soon) from a business standpoint, since it creates the weapons that IT people need to fight and win boardroom battles. The only thing the article missed was the following:

      1. Shelving active Windows licenses and software is essentially throwing away pretty valuable assets. Though, with Microsoft's recent licensing changes, they themselves may have made these assets worthless already.
      2. Un-brainwas^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HRe-training people to use a different system than they're used to. Always difficult and expensive to get the whole herd pointed in - and all going together in - another direction. Selecting the appropriate apps and proper user education can take care of that for the most part.
      3. Business process re-tooling/re-structuring. You change the basis of the tools your employees use, you're going to have to change some of your processes as well - fact of life. This may be a significant cost.

      Other than that, the article looks pretty much spot on. There will be times (not many, I'd wager) when the ROI of using a big *nix solution is so small that it won't be worth risking any productivity that exists with Windows, or Windows itself may be a better choice in the end. It comes down to performing due dillegence in order to truly find out. This article just may cause some businesses to question "conventional wisdom", and actually do true due dillegence in selecting the tools thier employees use.

      Soko
  • by q-soe (466472) on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @07:33PM (#2475136) Homepage
    I think this article has some excellent points but i do question a couple of things about the figures - i disagree with the assertion that The windows support job is full time and the Unix is not - thats a wishfull thinking idea - If you are smar about this you run a Standard Environment on a RIS build for all the workstations and your support costs crash to the floor on windows - i would know that in a system of this type 4 staff will be busy but adequate.

    I also agree that the UNIX servers will likely be more robust but i think its optomistic to state that the suport on desktops will be lower - the fact is theres not a lot of pre existing information to support this.

    I think they are actually about the same in support costs and that works the costs out the same - having said that i can see a lot of advantages to the UNIX solution with open source giving access to a much wider range of tools at a lower cost - i would point out that MS dont force you to move up and i would also point out that on 500 machines the license costs and upgrade coss are lower as you would choose a volume licensing or select agreement basis (you would NEVER pay retail prices)

    Good article but and well worth a read - i do have a slight question on bias - that is if a writer who supports open source working on an open source publicatiopn would ever make a reccomendation for closed source - i personally think that the Lonux desktop is closer than it was and almost there - and i also think everyone should have a choice in what they use-stuff like this can be a good start in helping people choose.
    • HAving worked for a company that had both Solaris and NT, literally 2 station per desktop) the solaris system seldom needed support, the NT systems mostly need support.
      MS does force you to move. They stop supporting there OS, you have to move. The advantage of creating problematic OS I suppose.
      At any place I've worked running Solaris, the desktop support is almost nil. Hell I didn't even see a support person for about a year at one place. I saw the windows support guys all the time.
      Solaris support for 2000 boxes, 3 guys.
      WinNT support for 2000 boxes 15 guys.
      • by q-soe (466472) on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @08:59PM (#2475501) Homepage
        I think thats a good point but you have to rememebr that your environment obviously has skilled users and you also have to take into account the applications running on each platform. Also you are ALL assuming solaris which is not a free OS - the assumption everyone else is talking about is a Linux Distro - they are i put to you birds of 2 very different feathers.

        I supoprt Windows and i would not say it is perfect But under 2000 we have a lot lot less crashes than NT - its stable to fault - and this box runs XP - has done since the first test release and i have NEVER chrashed it.

        And MS does end of life software - the same as Lunix kernels are replaced and as Solaris stop actively supoprting older versions - its called progress and its a good thing otherwise we wouls all still be time sharing in a PDP or an IBM RS.

        My point is you need to be aware of the follwing
        -Training
        -Ease of use
        -User Acceptance
        -Interconnecatbility

        A secretary doesnt want to mess around - she wants to logon, read her email, type a letter a print it out, she knows windows and has been using it for years and can use explorer to find a file, she understands macros and has customised templates and auto texts - you take away here machine she had better be able to immediately pick up the new OS and use it the same (and NO console windows - shes never SEEN DOS) and follow the same file and tree layout - KDE is almost there but i still cant give it to a secretary.

        lets understand the realities - on windows desktops here my users use Outlook, Word, Excel, IE5.5, Powerpoint, SAP and some of them have apps like photshop, they know their sysytems and i doubt 1 in 50 have ever seen a command line.

        I cannot replace my OS (and i would love to BTW) with linux until all of those products can work (and dont point out star office etc - ive trialled them and the KOffice is very good but we still need to interoperate with people outside and Koffice lacks a lot of things (including the macros we use for out templates)

        The average user isnt ready for linux - but if we keep working on it soon they might be - lets not just try and confuse the fight with statistice lets make is a CLEAR advantage.

      • We aren't talking about NT, which is a POS of a desktop OS (and a halfway decent server OS). We're talking about 2000, which is night and day easier and more stable then NT.
  • What we *really* need is a study of how many overpaid IT managers there are in existance, and study how much money you could save if you used people of logic and intelligence instead.

    For example:

    At a not-to-be-named newspaper in the northeast (where I may or may not work ;) -- IT managers work with the budget guys to buy 1.5x more than they need. Why? Because they know that if they don't, managers will say the following year (when perhaps something new really IS needed) -- "Well, you didn't need that last year, so we won't put it in the budget."

    The rest of the excise equipment is "borrowed" for months by employees. Titanium PowerBooks are the most frequent to go (though i can't blame anyone for that ;)

    Another IT example, this one bearing solely on the responsibility of the IT staff.

    An IT manager at a sorta-major company grew up around Windows, and is very anti-Mac. So, when IT was given the power to decide what computers to buy this year, he went after Windows PCs.... for a graphics/web content company. The result? Employees who refuse to use the Windows systems, and instead use year-old Mac systems instead. When the employees wanted OS X installed, IT went ballistic because they'd "spent so much money" on new Windows and had planned to adopt XP early over a period of time.

    You'd be surprised how easily and often this stuff happens. I'm not saying it's common, but I've heard so many stories -- of which those two I am personally related, unfortunately.

    So, Windows or Unix?

    How about whichever you want -- but do it efficiently and effectively. If Unix continues to receive support (esp. if Mac OS X continues to receive support -- and OS X Server), Windows and OS X will be very very similar feature-wise. And price-wise, too I'm sure (don't give the "Macs are 2x more expensive!"-routine. My $1299 iBook beats the heck out of a $1600 Dell laptop.. that is ugly, too).

    Inevitably, it may very well to cleaning out some management and saving money that way. EFFICIENT Corporate America.

    nahhhhh... ;-)
  • by Amokscience (86909) on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @07:37PM (#2475164) Homepage
    Obviously there are gross simplifications in the article but assuming that parents are going to buy BSD/Linux based PCs is ludicrous. Not to mention places like Dell have dropped installing Linux.

    That means you would usually buy a complete PC with Windows then have to slick the drive and install Linux. And somehow I just don't see parents going with Linux. The *only* way this happens is if the school forces you to buy a prebuilt package(s) from them.

    Sorry. That assumption is way too far gone to be overlooked.
  • It really all depends on the system administrator.

    At work we've got a system administrator for the Windows 2000 machines and he knows what he's doing. Result: the machines run as smoothly and stable as our UNIX boxes.

    Heck, when the Linux team have a bad day, more smoothly and stable.

    Technically, I completely dig UNIX. Idealogically, I completely distrust anything from Redmond. Strategically, sysadmin skills are all that matter.
    • Yes, but you are missing the most important part of the article. The UNIX solution was to put X-terminals on the users desks. Imagine a workplace where you have one machine to administer instead of a hodge podge of PCs all subtly different.

      A good admin can make any box sing, but it takes a lot more manpower to keep a pile of desktop PCs running smoothly, even if you are skilled. Heck, just getting rid of those pesky hard drives is a big deal.

      Thin clients, my friend, make all of the difference. Properly deployed thin clients make it possible to put a professionally sysadminned computer on everyone's desktop. That's a big deal.

  • by b0z (191086)
    This sort of information has been going around for a while, and it is still incorrect.

    While I won't attempt to make the estimates myself, I will suggest a few things to take into consideration

    • Learning curves. In the school and corporate environments, people don't want to waste time learning unix or linux. They don't work the same as Windows, which is the standard desktop practically everywhere. A normal situation would be that only some of the I.T. staff and power users know unix. If you can teach the blonde bimbo that blows your boss and makes memos in MS Powerpoint to send via Outlook the advantages of being able to compile your own kernel, I'll shut up about that, but it's not realistic to assume that people can easily learn a new OS. After all, most of them don't even understand how to use Windows correctly.
    • Interaction with others outside your office. Since Windows is the standard in the corporate world, you have to be able to communicate effectively with Windows. Samba is not easy for the average user to use like network neighborhood is. OpenOffice isn't able to work with MS Office as well as people tell you. It can read some old versions of word documents, but it doesn't work with Office XP. Microsoft will most likely make a conversion tool for Windows users who are using Office 2k or older, but not for unix. Unfortunately, until you have everyone agree to use unix it will never be a good office tool for people that communicate with those outside your office.
    • Support costs. Corporate support is a very important thing. Anyone that works with big companies to maintain their server hardware and software knows that if you have a critical problem and you're paying $200k a year in support, they will have a patch out for you by COB the next day. (Perhaps that was a slight exaggeration, but they are still very quick to solve problems.) The problem is that Windows support is generally cheaper than Unix support. I wouldn't even consider linux in an office environment though, because those that support it are not the same group that developers the software.
    There are others that I could mention but those are the main three things that seemed to be left out. It's hard us normal people to quantify the amount of money those things cost but most corporations have a team of people dedicated to that sort of stuff. I think that for how greedy most corporations are, if they honestly thought they could save money by not using Windows, they would switch in a heartbeat. However, after careful and detailed evaluation, much better than the one in this article, they decide to stick with Windows or migrate their stuff to it. They have to be saving money with Microsoft somehow, and I think those three categories are some of the major ways they justify it.
    • FUD (Score:2, Interesting)

      by swv3752 (187722)
      * Learning curves. In the school and corporate environments, people don't want to waste time learning unix or linux. They don't work the same as Windows, which is the standard desktop practically everywhere. A normal situation would be that only some of the I.T. staff and power users know unix. If you can teach the blonde bimbo that blows your boss and makes memos in MS Powerpoint to send via Outlook the advantages of being able to compile your own kernel, I'll shut up about that, but it's not realistic to assume that people can easily learn a new OS. After all, most of them don't even understand how to use Windows correctly.

      Kpresenter will work for presentations or several others. You can use Aethera or Evolution. Spend a few hours to train the user and they will be more productive than they ever were.

      * Interaction with others outside your office. Since Windows is the standard in the corporate world, you have to be able to communicate effectively with Windows. Samba is not easy for the average user to use like network neighborhood is. OpenOffice isn't able to work with MS Office as well as people tell you. It can read some old versions of word documents, but it doesn't work with Office XP. Microsoft will most likely make a conversion tool for Windows users who are using Office 2k or older, but not for unix. Unfortunately, until you have everyone agree to use unix it will never be a good office tool for people that communicate with those outside your office.

      Sending Documetns out are no problem. Receiving Documents is no problem. You simply say "This not readable. Please send in X format." I shouldn't need to say what formats will work.

      * Support costs. Corporate support is a very important thing. Anyone that works with big companies to maintain their server hardware and software knows that if you have a critical problem and you're paying $200k a year in support, they will have a patch out for you by COB the next day. (Perhaps that was a slight exaggeration, but they are still very quick to solve problems.) The problem is that Windows support is generally cheaper than Unix support. I wouldn't even consider linux in an office environment though, because those that support it are not the same group that developers the software.

      Red Hat, Mandrakesoft, SuSE, and even Caldera do not do developement? Then what are all those developers on staff for?

      Your last argument is rather circular despite the hidden truth to it. Your actual argument is the truth that people see. The real reason is because of various shady backroom deals that get made. People are afraid of change. That and Microsoft has some flashy marketing.
  • by rfsayre (255559) on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @07:46PM (#2475205) Homepage
    This article doesn't mention that it costs money to train people to use Unix. It doesn't have anything to do with how smart they are, they'll ay least need time to adjust. If you've ever read an ad in the newspaper looking for a secretary, you know that MS Office is pretty much the prerequisite. All of your employees know how to use Windows coming in, not so for Unix. Retraining people costs money.

    This article seeks to use "average" scenarios to make its point. I would say that Unix would be a lot more beneficial in specialized situations, where employees use a lot of custom or specialized software (e.g. POS stations, industrial settings). They're going to have to learn anyway, so why not have them learn it on a cheaper, more stable platform?

    In the college scenario, the article takes no account that many colleges make these decisions based on what the students use. Usually, that's Windows. Sometimes Mac. Almost never *nix.

    In the corporate scenario, no mention is made of the need to share files with other companies. This requires Windows. No corporation really cares about the evils of closed file formats until they get in the way. Besides, how are any pitches going to be made without PowerPoint? :)

    To be realistic, both situations should have compared the cost of a Windows setup vs. a mixed Unix/Windows setup, since that's how it work in the real world.

    • Get your Windows apps! PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Entourage, etc! Get your Unix apps and services!

      It does everything *except* Windows!
      • yeah dogg...

        the one downside here is the more expensive, proprietary hardware. OTOH, it is truly much more elegant than most off the shelf PC stuff, and that hasn't stopped me from owning many of their products myself.

        The point would be making an argument to a suit who handles a budget why this may / may not be the best choice.
    • No corporation really cares about the evils of closed file formats until they get in the way. Besides, how are any pitches going to be made without PowerPoint?

      For what it's worth, there's also PDF. Any presentation-building tool that can print out in PDF will be readable on vitrually any computer, with no problems.

      I went to Japan recently for a project. I put together my sllides in Powerpoint , but had a colleague put them in PDF format before handing the disk over to get copies and overheads made, and they worked out great. I could have used any tool to put them together, as long as Acrobat could make a PDF out of it. Another colleague gave the Powerpoint file, and the Japanese computers didn't have his fonts, so it looked ugly.

      But I forgot, PDF presentations don't have embedded sound, movies, or stupid curved Word-Art. That seems to be all that's in all of the non-technical presentations I get to see lately.

    • This article doesn't mention that it costs money to train people to use Unix.


      It costs money to train people to use Windows too. Have you ever seen the price list for MCS* trainging courses + exams.


      In the college scenario, the article takes no account that many colleges make these decisions based on what the students use.


      Beg to differ. Most colleges use a) what ever they've been using forever, or b) what the profs who have funding want to use for a given course.


      --locust

    • And will learn what you teach him. Tell this person to do something and he'll have to pull the notebook out a few times (Or every time, if it's not a frequent task) and read his notes on how to do it. They fumble along in whatever environment you put them in because that's their job. Believe it or not, this very same mentality of person did SGML tag markup back in the before-GUI days and they never complained about it being hard. It was just their job.
    • This is a good argument, however, it's circular reasoning:

      1) People use Windows.
      2) College students use Windows b/c it's what they use.
      3) Colleges use Windows b/c it's what the students use.
      4) People with jobs [replacing the word secretary] use Windows b/c they used it in college, and they don't want to change.
      5) They teach their children to use Windows b/c that's what they use at the office and don't want a seperate OS at home.

      The conclusion? Somewhere along the line a *nix system needs to be used to break the cycle. It's partially happening now, but not enough people use *nix to make a real impact on Windows use. (These few people probably also are forced to use Windows some of the time anyway). So unless a clean break can be made by a large number of people I see Windows staying the OS of choice for the near future.
  • by connorbd (151811) on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @07:46PM (#2475209) Homepage
    Windows -- Grudgingly useful for desktop/secretarial environments, and you'll also find that most of the accounting packages out there, as well as many embedded systems packages, require it. Windows is also, like it or not, the OS of choice for hard-core gamers. Sucks, but true. Generally not a good choice for server environments due to cost and MS lockin (stability issues were all but eliminated with Win2K). Limited to x86 platforms; all other versions died of user apathy.

    Unix -- Useful for light-to-medium duty single server environments (especially file-sharing and WWW), as well as clustering; Solaris, AIX, Irix, and occasionally even Linux pop up on high-end (i.e. mainframe or supercomputer class) systems. Also the system of choice for cluster computing (though MacOS Classic can make a credible case for being a viable cluster computation environment as well). Unix's traditional timesharing environment is a very small niche in the modern market, but still useful. Also a major scientific computing platform. The downside is that the proliferation of standards makes generalizing about anything above the command line difficult and/or pointless; Solaris != Linux != BSD, and it's going to stay that way. Runs on everything concievable, from a Commodore 64 all the way up to gigantic Cray supercomputers and Linux clusters.

    MacOS -- Don't run a publishing house or recording studio without it; the Mac is the platform of choice for the creative industry. Also a good choice for education, but a weak gaming platform. MacOS X largely eliminates instability from legacy code. AppleScript as a scripting platform makes VBA and Unix Shell look horribly primitive (and MacPerl is available as well). Limited to PowerPC hardware.

    That's my summation...

    /Brian
  • ....while an expert on Windows 95 networking would have first had to abandon NETBUIE for DECNET to cope with Windows/NT and now have to abandon that skill set to learn the basic Unix networking built into Windows/XP.

    expert on win95 caused the same cerebral twinge normally reserved for "military intelligence" or "managerial decision".

    While the mention of NETB...oh, god, I can't say it, much less type it without that "fingernails screeching down a chalk board" chill down my spine...(sniff..*SOB*, shudder...make it stop...MAKE IT STOP!!).

    and that "Basic UNIX networking in XP"...oh, that explains why changing network settings no longer requires a reboot.

    Learn something new every day.

    Of course I love the quote--not from the article, mind you (might have been on arstechnica, I think)--- that Microsoft Windows 2000 is better and more stable that 30 year old UNIX technology, but, later claims that Windows 2000 is approaching the *stability* of said 30 year old UNIX technology...

    And sure enough, there was a link to a "PR" page on windows 2000... yep, decode some of the marketing "twists and turns" and, yes-sirreee, the put UNIX down and say "We are almost as good" in black and white.

    Heh.

  • Under what circumstances is it smarter to pick one technology rather than the other?


    ...to guess what technology the LinuxWorld guy thought was smarter?


    No, I think not. I shall look elsewhere for real comparisons.

  • by anticypher (48312) <anticypher.gmail@com> on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @08:00PM (#2475287) Homepage
    Holy shit! 500 SunRay terminals on a single 4800. I must contact the author and find out how to keep the 4800 from exploding under that kind of load.

    To properly set up that many SunRays, the load has to be distributed between a number of servers, because every client running *office, nutscrape^Wmozilla, and a few xterms with email clients will require about 50Mbytes per session. Thats 25 GigaBytes of RAM, not counting the slowaris overhead. Hit swap even slightly with that much real memory, and watch every session run at 20MHz 386 speeds.

    No, this is a completely unrealistic mismatch. It would have been nice if the author had asked a few *nix and *doze experts for some real numbers and real world installations, then we could use an article like this for something useful. As it is, M$ doesn't even need to respond, its 100% grade-A FUD.

    the AC
    • As it is, M$ doesn't even need to respond, its 100% grade-A FUD.

      Sauce, for the goose.
    • by autocracy (192714) <[slashdot2007] [at] [storyinmemo.com]> on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @09:57PM (#2475673) Homepage
      Nope. That'd work just fine - heck, Sun reccomends a 450 for 50 machines. Consider that the 4800 is just that much damned faster per proc, and case closed. Also remember *shared memory*. Only 1 instance of the program itself is run - the rest is just individual states. Assuming Windows and *nix are equally stable (I disagree, but beyond the scope of this), the *nix solution is still more worth it - 'cause you sure as hell ain't getting Windows on anything that's gonna touch a damned 4800.
      • Even if the Sun hardware handles the load under the "average case," I think it's a bad idea to use SunRays. Use servers for serving, for multiple users, give them each their own CPU.
        For one thing, there's always a few people who are going to run some weird program that sucks cycles like made, degading performance for everyone. For another, students don't work under average load conditions. Everybody is slacking off until two weeks before finals and then trying to get it all done at once. If system performance goes to hell under the excess load, you're going to have a lot of unhappy students.
    • Mozilla is a hog, and if you're opening up a few documents, expect OpenOffice to use more too. I'd figure at least 100MB per user. Now we're talking 50GB of RAM.

      I don't know what the author's been smoking, but I'd never put all the users on just one box. If a lab PC goes down, the user can switch to another. If your one and only Unix server goes down, everyone goes home. It would be better to split the processors between two smaller boxes, than to put everything in one.

      The processors and memory are the largest part of the 4800's cost (especially in the configurations we're talking about. The chassis, backplane, and power supplies are relatively cheap.

      And what the heck is going on with a SPARCstation 10 as the management console? Excuse me, but those have been discontinued for how many years? He mentions Office XP, so it's not as if this "report" was written in 1995. Sheesh.

      I am a total Unix/Linux advocate, but this "report" is completely bogus.

    • by green pizza (159161) on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @10:52PM (#2475832) Homepage
      Thats 25 GigaBytes of RAM, not counting the slowaris overhead.

      Then install 50 GB for good measure. The 4800 is one hellofa machine and can handle up to 96 GB of RAM.
    • by scrytch (9198) <chuck@myrealbox.com> on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @11:40PM (#2476012)
      Holy shit! 500 SunRay terminals on a single 4800. I must contact the author and find out how to keep the 4800 from exploding under that kind of load.

      Sun typically ran over 100 SunRays at once with a single e450 with 8 cpu's and 12 gigs ram, repeating this setup for about a dozen servers in the initial rollout. I was not only there, I supported the installations. I ended up ditching my desktop for a SunRay because they really were that fast.

      requirement of 25 gigs RAM? no problemo. this isn't a PC you're talking about. slowaris? run ps on a linux box with all the processes of 500 logged in users and you tell me what's slow. you talk a lot about the real world ... have you ever even used a sunray?
      • Sun typically ran over 100 SunRays at once with a single e450 with 8 cpu's and 12 gigs ram...

        That's a neat trick - the E450 only has 4 CPU slots, and takes a max. of 4GB of RAM... :-)

        Here's a real world case study: I have an E450 running SunRays at work:
        • E450 with 2x400MHz CPU, 1GB of RAM
        • 5 SunRays connected to a 100MBit port*
        • Software: QVWM window manager, Netscape, Applix, Z-Mail, Acrobat Reader, GIMP etc.
        * This is only a test configuration, but runs very comfortably.

        I chose QVWM because it is lightweight with a Windows look and feel - it also loads *really* fast. Getting it to work properly with the SunRays was fiddly, but not that hard once I copied the relevant parts from the CDE environment. (There's one script that I've had to leave as ksh - I've tried porting it to csh/Bourne shell but it seems to be doing something really weird...)

        The production rollout will be around 25 SunRays via a gigabit connection to the server (100MHz to the desktop), so I'll probably add a couple of CPUs and 2-3GB of RAM to play it safe. (There are around 10 "power" users; the rest will be shared terminals with intermittent usage.)

        The server it is replacing is an old Sparc 20 with 2x150MHz Ross CPUs, 384MB of RAM and a bunch of old Labtam X-terminals (8-bit colour only); it's old, it struggles a bit under peak usage but it has worked admirably for years. The switch to 24-bit colour will be a vast improvement - the extra performance is a bonus. ;-)
  • by throx (42621) on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @08:04PM (#2475310) Homepage
    Where is the comparison of using Terminal Services? Why is he paying full retail prices for systems when he should know full well quantity licenses are significantly cheaper? Why the assertion that Suns are more stable when in my experience Windows is just as stable if you don't let the users screw with it. Where are the different server options for running PeopleSoft? Why Dell not Unisys?

    In the end this is a piece of well researched FUD designed to come to the predetermined conclusion - Unix is better than Windows.

    I beg to differ - most decision have to be made in the context of an existing architecture, business system and corporate momentum. It is always a case of choosing the best solution to fit the existing network for a minimum medium term cost.
    • hear hear! While I am not employed by Microsoft, and I don't particularly LIKE Microsoft, I do have to agree that this article is just a big 'LINUX ROX' rant. I worked for a small web company as their only Windows admin for a few months. We had 50 employees, with 50 Windows boxes (an ugly mix of desktop and laptops, running NT4, W2k Pro, and W98.) Along with 3 Windows NT servers, an Exchange server, and a SQL server. That was our 'in-house' network. We (Being an internet company) also had an array of 5 Linux boxes that our service ran on. We had myself as the Windows admin, and one other person as the Linux admin. The Windows boxes went down so infrequently that I got laid off and replaced with a college student 'PC TECH' getting half my salary, who handled it no problem, even with too much free time. Our poor Linux guy, however, was constantly applying new patches, solving network issues, and the like...

      • Don't forget that the Linux guy was keeping up a couple mission-critical machines, unlike your Windows systems; your post makes it sound like Linux requires an admin for every 5 boxes whereas Windows only requires one for every 50. Thats comparing apples and oranges. If one of the Win machines goes down you lose maybe a half hour of work, if one of the servers goes down you lose a great deal more, and the servers are much more likely to be attacked. Also, if this Linux guy was "constantly solving network issues, and the like" doesn't that make him as much of a network admin as a Linux guy? It sounds like he was busier than you because he had a broader job description not because he was in charge of the Linux machines.
      • The Windows boxes went down so infrequently that I got laid off...

        Sounds like the Linux guy knew enough to look busy so he didn't get laid off like you did.. ;)

    • To be fair, he didn't include the discount for ordering a shitload of SunRays either. Who's biased and which way?
  • Cost of Servers for 5,200 users: 850K

    cost of Storage for said users: 8X 40K

    The look on the Admins face when management standardizes on XP home
    edition and s/he has to make 5,200 phone calls to activate them all:

    Priceless.

    (Laff now, you know it will happen to someone, eventually. With Microsoft's luck it will be a charity.)

  • by hobbs (82453) on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @08:06PM (#2475323)
    Preface - I am fairly agnostic to what is on my desktop, although I do prefer Unix to Windows.

    Reading this article, being a very informed technical user (one who has done both Uni unix sysadmining and Windows sysadmining because, well, what Windows machine hasn't needed it?), I found it very hard to buy any of Murphy basic assumptions or trade-offs.

    First off, why does a Dell 2100 cost so much in the Windows solution? I went to www.dell.com to price the same thing and got US$1262.11 (40GB HDD, 256MB, 1.1Ghz Celeron, 17in head, net card, 2000/XP with Office academic). Mind you, I went in the Academic pricing door, because he is pricing for a school. The Office/2K software adds about $280 to the bill. Thus, the only thing he should have noted is that each computer buyer shells out $280 more for Windows. In other words, for the 900 computers (500 school, 400 home) in his first example, that's $252K - no chump change). That assumes no school licensing. If he isn't getting those basic numbers right, you know the rest of the article is bent...

    The idea that "Smart Displays" would cut it in school is OK for some (terminal rooms, where many go to just read mail and surf), but forget it for heavy work. I've not heard of these being satisfactorily used in practice.

    Also, I hate to say it, but I don't think this guy has ever seriously used Win2K. Many may not like to hear it - but I've only seen the BSOD once while using it. I've been actually pleasantly surprised myself at its reliability. I am now able to run these things for months without reboot (OK, so I had a solaris machine that went for a little over a year once until we upgraded the memory...). In any case, either system properly maintained is fairly reliable.

    Point 2 - administration. At my old Uni, the CS systems (not the general machines) were maintained by 2 full time Unix sysadmins (we actually had very few Windows machines at the time) and a horde of cheap or free volunteers. The systems ran 24 hours, but only with help (because beginning CS programmers can do all sorts of weird things you don't anticipate). Either way, it's at least one full time person for Unix or Windows. I think the real cost will be in all the tech support needed for these students that grew up on Windows at home (at least 95% of them). That will need 4 full time people in and of itself.

    I'll buy point 3, but everyone likes to upgrade.

    I'm a little less able to gripe about his assumptions in the 5,000 manufacturing environment, but I'll add in some thoughts...

    The last company I worked at had over 5000 all over the world. It was a mixed Unix and Windows (mostly Windows, since tech is always smaller than marketing and sales), and the whole organization didn't have but 50 tech support total. They worked hard, but they had a pretty efficient setup, and things went pretty smoothly. I'm going to assume he got his 30:1 Windows user:support ratio from some informed source, but he doesn't cite one, and I've never seen it that bad in practice.

    Anyway, no need to beat the horse. There is one reason I do like the article. It is totally biased for Unix to win. However, there is so much crap that says the opposite (in Windows favor), that I guess you have to have the CIOs read both poles of crap to come to a decision in the middle.
    • About smart displays. I sit at an xterm all day, every day, doing my systems administration work, and it seems fine to me. I can't say what it would be like with a more "office-y" workload, though.
    • I'm just pissing everyone off today...

      1. Sun provides both academic and bulk price dicounts - he didn't take advantage of those on the *nix side.
      2. What percentage of High School students know enough shit about comps to care about anything more that if they can surf the web (easy enough - most browsers ARE pretty damned identical), and check e-mail (a million styles of clients for Windows, as many for *nix). For those that can do more and are in classes that need more, give them more. Put them on a /home2 partition or something that still has nosuid, but exec. And all support is basically server side. No (little) running around the building.
      3. Yeah, now put 5000 [in|on] the same [building|campus], and then they'll start calling. And hey, maybe it is heavy. But when you consider the number of techs:seats in a public school building (and still their understaffed), you easily see the scaling for just what he's talking about - academia. Not so true for a corp, but hey...
  • Total Crap (Score:2, Interesting)

    by headsling (310069)
    Written by someone who has, seemingly, no practicle experience in what they are writing about. Four admins (30:1 where the hell is that written?) and four servers are not are not required for 500 users. Windows 2000 has a 2000+ hour MTBF (see nstl) not really the 'daily reality of system failures' quoted in the article. Note : The bugtoaster numbers include crashes of applications running on the OS not just the OS.

    Also massive single point of failure exists in the School Sun solution - if the server goes, then you have 500 paper weights! Add another Sun Server and you are close to the quoted Windows cost.
    Using very similar client terminals, a Windows Terminal solution (Citirx and NCR) can be offered at less than the Sun solution using the same Four servers recommended.

    More /. hates windows shit.
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by eap (91469) on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @08:16PM (#2475361) Journal
    A comparison between Windows and Unix.

    Now if someone could just recommend a good visual mode text editor.
  • Glaring errors... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sheldon (2322) on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @08:18PM (#2475367)
    I'm sorry, I got to the first case study regarding the University and decided at that point the article was not worth reading any further.

    I'm not certain at what point and time this article was researched. So I'm going to ignore the glaring price descrepancy for the hardware... specifically the Dell GX150 which they list at $1200, but I can get for $900 from Dell's website.

    But the most glaring error in a case study about academic purchases is that the $479 is a retail price for Office XP Standard full edition.

    A college would most certainly qualify for academic prices, which would put you at only $159/desktop for the software. That is a $320 discrepancy per desktop resulting in at least a $160,000 error in the bottom line.

    Furthermore with more than 500 computers on campus, the college would qualify for the Academic Select licensing which will likely further reduce costs.

    It's unclear if the author made further mistakes of this nature. I can only assume that he didn't factor in the fact that students can buy Office XP for home use for only $150 as well, and so forth.

    I just barely glanced at the costs used for the corporate side and saw similar glaring errors.

    I'm still trying to figure out why he decided to throw Microsoft Operations Manager into the mix. That seems like a convenient way to throw another $120k onto the price tag. I wonder if the author even knows what MOM does, or that it's actually a NetIQ product licensed by Microsoft.

  • Of course it's not *quite* ready yet. Office isn't out yet, for example.

    Still, would the comparison change drastically when OS X is ready for primetime?

    A Unix on the desktop that is stable and powerful and full featured *and* intuitive? With Windows connectivity, as well as Office apps, and Unix connectivity?
    • I believe Microsoft just released the product this past week. At least it's available for sale off their website.

    • Still, would the comparison change drastically when OS X is ready for primetime?

      MS recently completed the Mac OS X version of Office (Office v.X) and it should be shipping soon. If that isn't a sign of OS X being ready for primetime, then I don't know what is.

      In related news, Apple is gearing up to release Mac OS X 10.1.1, a 0.0.1 point release to address a few minor issues. OS X is looking better all the time.
  • by ClarkEvans (102211) on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @08:40PM (#2475433) Homepage
    What is often missing in these formulations is the investment in legacy software. This is why Microsoft won and Apple lost in the late 80's. Sure the Mac was better... but it didn't run all of the custom developed DOS software that Windows did. Then in the early 90's it was Windows NT vs OS/2. Although OS/2 had a compatibility layer, it wasn't "Windows". And thus, once again, all of those custom windows applications came to play.

    Now we want companies like Ford to adopt linux? It isn't going to happen. They have, I am sure, billions of dollars invested in 16 bit and 32 bit windows software (Yes, there are still many VB 3.0 applications out there.). Until Linux provides proven, reliable, backwards compatibility here it's no dice. The lock-in cost is just too high.

    Now. This may be possible in 10 years from now. As long as corporate developers use plain ole HTML plus well-supported Javascript and don't use ActiveX and, worse the new .NET stuff. But how likely is that? Not. And so we go round and round the treadmill. As corporate lock-in grows deeper and deeper -- tough luck Linux.
  • I like the breakdown of his numbers and think that was very well researched but he makes waaaay to many assumptions without backing evidence for me to take this without a few healthy doses of skepticism. Let's begin:
    The school using Unix can reasonably expect to achieve nearly perfect system reliability while maintaining a relative immunity to student attacks. Only hardware failure or serious administrator error can bring the Unix system to a stop. As a result, the Unix operation will fade into the background to become something which, like the telephone system, just works and can therefore be ignored by college management
    A system where everyone logs into the server is vulnerable to local root exploits, exactly how is the setup he suggested with one Solaris server and 500 dumb terminals provide "immunity to student attacks"? Searching Google brings up lots of hits for :local root exploit" and Solaris [google.com].
    The Unix administration job is really part-time although, in practice, it would be filled as a full-time position and the person hired will find additional ways to contribute to the college. The Windows-based solution, by contrast, will be under-supported with four full-time staff and lead to a serious loss of productivity among other professionals as they become part time PC support people.
    Administering a system used by 500 students is definitely not a part time job regardless of what OS you are using. I do agree however that it'll probably take less administrators than if they got 500 Windows boxes.
    We can reasonably expect the experience in the next five years will reflect that of the previous five. A Sun 5500 server bought in 1996 to support 200 X-terminal users would still be in use today, albeit with upgraded applications and a later Solaris release. In contrast, someone who bought a Windows networking system for 200 users in 1996 would have been forced to upgrade both his servers and his desktop hardware at least once, and more likely twice, in the period and now be facing yet another forced march to new hardware and software to cope with the XP/Net generation.
    Again, numbers to back this up would be nice. Anyway two points
    1. There is no need to upgrade the OS just because new versions are out. There are shops still using Windows 95 to do their work and that's like 3 Windows versions ago.

    2. Is it really true that a server that could handle 200 users a few years ago can handle 200 users using Mozilla, Open Office and X at the same time off of the same server without any upgrades?
    I won't comment on the 5000-user manufacturing operation since I have little knowledge about setups like that. I do have an issue however with his usage of application crash data from BugToaster [bugtoaster.com]. Exactly what does how much an application (not OS) crashes on the OS have to do with it? Netscape and Pico (God, I hate pico) crash on me all the time, yet I never go around claiming that this has anything to do with Linux's stability.

    Since BugToaster doesn't give statistical breakdowns such as application versus OS crashes their data is practically meaningless. I'm pretty sure Mindcraft can come up with a survey that shows that people running Linux that use the 2 year old versions of Netscape have to deal with a lot of crashes and it would be shouted down for being teh FUD that it is, well this guy is guilty of doing the same thing.
  • by Eponymous, Showered (73818) <jase.dufair@org> on Wednesday October 24, 2001 @09:52PM (#2475662) Homepage
    Company A takes the author's suggestion and puts in a Sun/Sunray system. Company B, next door, detects the slightest amount of bias in the article and goes with a Windows system.

    Now both companies discover that Peoplesoft doesn't include a sales force automation system. The sales department needs some way to track leads, follow up on potential clients and their golf handicaps, finalize orders.

    Each company sends out an RFP for an SFA system. Company B gets proposals from a dozen vendors and picks one that may not be perfect, but seems to fit the needs and culture of the company. Company A gets a single proposal for a half-assed piece of shit that was bought out from another company that went out of business 6 years ago. The system was never really completed and only has 3 other companies that use it currently, one in chapter 13. Source code is somewhere in a box of 9 track tapes in Brussels, Belgium.

    Company B starts selling more widgets while company A is trying to find a consultant to add a cell phone field to their SFA system. Company B makes a lot more money, uses some of it to pay for the inordinate number of clueless MCSEs in the basement, and uses the rest of it to buy company B. Four long haired, bearded fat guys are on monster.com looking for Solaris admin jobs, the rest of Company A is retrained on Windows. Ob la di, ob la da, life goes on.

    (for god's sake, the author can't even spell NetBEUI)
  • Like most ./ comparison articles the author of this one has pretty obvious axe to grind.

    I don't care who is administering the systems but one person is not going to have 500 systems out of their boxes, let alone fully configured in under 4 months. Hardware failures alone are going to keep this guy pretty busy from then on.

    The author clearly either has no experience of managing large numbers of machines or was completely unresponsive to his users if he did.

    Any idiot can manage 500 machines if he does diddly squat.

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