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Linux vs NT

Comparing any network operating system is really like comparing an apple to an orange. To judge between the underlying functionality of each operating system geared towards different networking environments is too broad of a subject to come to a reasonable conclusion. However, one could argue about the advantages and disadvantages pertaining to the Unix based Linux operating system and the infamous Windows NT operating system.

I can compare and contrast these two operating systems, but I can’t take a strong stand because it all depends on a number of situations including the different networking environments, the applications that are readily available, and most important what the user wants. The goal is to find out which of these two operating systems is the lesser of two evils by examining their features. I have decided not to discuss cost because it goes without saying: Linux wins the price to performance ratio. What is more important to discuss is the initial hardware and software fees, and maintenance and reliability which often go hand in hand.

According to Sunworld, the estimated minimal required hardware costs that would go with a Linux machine is $200. In an NT machine, the minimal hardware cost rose up to $1300. This is because NT requires at least a 486 Pentium with 16MB of RAM. Linux can run fine on a 386 computer with only 8MB of RAM. What do the majority of users need a computer for? Mainly word processing and the use of a database program. An NT user doesn’t have to go with Microsoft Office, but a lot of people do, costing a couple hundred dollars. Linux can run an Office Suite program that is very similar to Office for at least half the cost.

Even a free version of WordPerfect 8 is available for Linux. A Linux system comes with a range of development tools (C/C++ Compiler, Perl, Tcl/Tk, Python, CORBA, Ada, Pascal, Lisp, REXX, Java, etc. , as well as many text editors and integrated development environments), all of which are free. In order to create software under Linux, there is no expensive package to buy. Many NT users complain about system crashes or the dreaded “blue screen of death. ” NT systems face a lot of down times, which creates a problem for mission critical situations.

It is very frustrating to be working on something for a couple of hours and see it vanish or crash. Unix based systems have experienced much less down times compared to Windows machines. Re-booting the server should not take place very often, and Linux outperforms NT in the category of reliability. The cost of the down times go to the administrators who must be there and the time lost to perform duties when the system is down. Very high regards go to the multitasking abilities and virtual memory usage that Linux provides.

Although NT runs the same features, Linux provides the true meaning to running multiple programs without crashing the system. Although NT does support multiprocessing capabilities, that just provides more terms for cost on hardware and doesn’t necessarily mean the system will run faster. Compatibility is considered when you want to escape from proprietary and vendor specific programs and applications. Both NT and Linux support protocols such as TCP/IP, IPX/SPX, NFS, and many other protocols, but the only way NT has access to UNIX files are through NFS.

Linux can have access to DOS and Windows NT file systems. Linux is capable of running Windows programs using a Windows emulator or WINE. Unix programs are unable to run on NT systems unless you port them. Batch scripts written on Linux are almost always unchanged when running different versions. Batch scripts written on NT are not necessarily compatible with Windows for workgroups, Windows 95, and DOS. Backups are compatible between different distributions of Linux and versions of UNIX, as well as other Systems (except NT).

NTBACKUP only works on NT and often the tapes cannot be moved from one machine to another, especially if they are different manufacturers. One advantage that NT has over Linux is the ease of installation and administration. Contrary to the beliefs of Unix being difficult to manage, a molecular biologist named Thomas Junier from a Bioengineering department of a cancer research center claims that he had no particular problems learning Unix, and added that if he was forced to use NT, he’d probably resign. He is happy with the performance of his Pentium- Linux workstation and would never think of switching to anything else.

Unix being notorious for its command based programming has faded with GUI based program managers like the X Windows system, which makes it easier for the average Joe to use Linux. The Linux system for an open source code provides for a very flexible way to modify and customize the network environment, or even any programs or applications. Because it comes with a C++ compiler, Perl 5. 0, and other IDE and text editing software, the user gets the ability to explore. Granted that programming of this nature is not for the average user, it is a great learning tool for those who are headed down that path.

NT, however, does not provide the source code; therefore, limiting the user to only Microsoft’s networking and programming solutions. The creator of Linux, Linus Torvalds, developed this operating system using past versions of Unix strengths, and avoiding the weaknesses and flaws that have been created for more than 30 years. Linus also got help from would be programmers from all over, many being hackers, to create this sophisticated operating system. Having a wide variety of help and feedback supports the integration of a system that can satisfy most users.

NT, on the other hand, is developed by their own team, not taking much consideration to what consumers really want to see. Although this report isn’t very cohesive to intervene between each subject, I think it provides grounds to see clearly how well Linux presents itself over NT. Although Linux is still in its primitive stages, the mark it has put in this world is quite remarkable. These early version of Linux provides a stepping stone for later versions to come, and possibly dominate the market when executives and upper level managers alike come to see that Linux is a great industry solution.

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