Sunday, April 09, 2006

Is Windows a better choice than Linux?

Dear readers,

Sorry I haven't posted for a long time.

I recently posted a message or two on the huge and rather brilliant Oracle-L list, and either the weekend or some Tsunami have caused complete radio silence on the list after that. Or something is wrong with my mail-server.

So I'd like to use this blog to invite some comments on the (probably completely wrong) way I view the issue of Windows vs Linux.

First of all, let me say very strongly that I HATE monopolies, be they private or public. I really do. They end up being so immensely bad for the greater good of consumers/users/customers.

Doesn't matter if it's the Old Phone Monopoly or the Police or the socialised hospital systems in many countries or indeed the dominant position of some software outfit.

The WASTE is of unimaginable proportions, the impetus for change and innovation utterly lacking and the motivation of employees - strange, isn't it? - is practically non-existent.

Does that mean I don't like Microsoft?

Yes, I really hate Microsoft for their various silly attempts at making the customers choices fewer and trying to change standards into Microsoft standards - not because they have to, mind you, but because they can.

No, I don't hate Microsoft for most of what they do, since it seems to work and we can all use it, and strictly speaking we're not talking monopolistic activity in most areas.

As an ex-Oracle guy, I think I know some of the points of view of Larry Ellison. He would so very dearly like to become the monopolistic guy instead of the monopolistic guy (Bill Gates).

The "deep" insight he thinks he gained in Japanese business culture of "competitors are stealing rice out of the mouths of our children" is about as intelligent as the rest of that nonsense Ninja-and-small-gardens-with-waterfalls semi-religious idea he and others think will create great insight and inner peace. It could, mind you, if you had enough beer or vodka. Otherwise, I think not.

But Larry doesn't HAVE that dominant position. He's trying (buying ERP-systems all over the place), but he's not there yet. Nor is Microsoft in many important areas.

Given the chance, both Bill and Larry would dearly love to have a monopoly, so they could command high prices, yet deliver so-and-so service and products - maximising profit.

Enough about my personal attitudes on monopolies and monopolistic behaviour.

But does all that mean I will recommend Linux to my customers? Actually no.

When I consider what's best for a given customer, I often will say Windows because it's easier for them to hire qualified people. Doesn't matter if we're talking Unix, VMS or Linux. It's harder to come by SA's for them. Which is why users of these systems many times end up outsourcing to the three-letter monsters so they can be sure there's somebody there who can manage their old-school system (Unix, VMS) or new-school system (Linux). And then they're hosed.

You can say that Microsoft is a monopoly. Strictly speaking (as someone who studied Economics for three years), it might be in certain areas, but they're few. Dominant in several areas, oh yes.

But isn't Linux trying hard to become a monopoly? They use ideology constantly to try to kill the competition (Microsoft), and they make pirate (free) copies of many of the competitors products. How cool is that?!

Just because a lot of people are working for free doesn't mean they're Doing Good.

Lots of people are working for free in very weird political organisations, but I don't consider their causes good.

Free is not Good by design.

Isn't Linus about as dominant as Gates? Why on Earth did he not want a decent scheduler in Linux for so long? That's just something Windows HAD to have as per requests from large clients. He might not want to be viewed as dominant, but people will try to interpret his every word and move and treat him like a demi-god.

My point is that users don't have anything to say about future developments and features of Linux. They're powerless. They become the M of S&M.

Now, what would happen if the US Government or the EU decided that Linux had a too dominating position on the market? Who should they take to court? Can the Linux community be held accountable for their actions if they do something which is not in the interest of the customer/user?

What if Linux was hit by a wave of very serious security attacks (succesful, too) but nobody in the community wanted to fix the code? Who could force them to shut down development of new stuff for a couple of months while they focused on the security issues?

From another comment on the Oracle-L list (and this guy is not a beginner):

"Anyone with intimate knowledge of what Operating System supports a GOOD, boutique port of Oracle relies on knows all too well that not even Oracle Corp has managed to influence the Linux Kernel sufficiently! Some of the complete junk they are mainlining is astounding, and the motives for acceptance of same is generally a bit

I'll look forward to your comments on this.



Anonymous Ealing said...

"But isn't Linux trying hard to become a monopoly?"

Linux is a kernel, not a company.

"They use ideology constantly to try to kill the competition (Microsoft), and they make pirate (free) copies of many of the competitors products."

- Who is 'they'?
- Making a competitor product is not the same as pirating.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Edgar Chupit said...

Let’s won’t forget, that if we are talking about Linux vs Windows as a server OS for Oracle DB, Linux is not that free at all, we still have to purchase license and renew it each year, and license fees for “free Linux” can be quite impressive.

Basically, for my friends and colleagues, I suggest to use OS they know better, not the “ultimate best, bug free OS on Earth”.

12:29 AM  
Blogger Moans Nogood said...

"Linux is a kernel, not a company."

True. So does that imply that nobody can be held responsible for some of the really bad (or downright missing) pieces of code in there? I think so.

No, making a competing product is not pirating, but making a competing product to look like the original is not really impressive from a mental, technical or attitude standpoint, is it?

(I would, though, suggest it's pirating on some level.)

It might just be cheap copying, and so should NOT generate any respect whatsoever. You just get the impression of pimpled teenagers going "Whoa, I just had some code accepted out there...".

In other words, I don't really subscribe to that "Plagiarising with pride" thing that is so popular among certain businesses.

Also, people that simply copy will never get ahead :-).

12:44 AM  
Blogger Noons said...

Well strictly speaking it's definitely not true that it is easier to hire qualified people with Windows!
What do you call "qualified"? The MS certification? Pah!, load of rubbish!...

My experience here is that good people - as opposed to "qualified" - are as hard to find in Windows as they are in Linux. Or any other OS, for that matter: the problem is with the IT industry in general and its determination in lowering professionalism standards as a vehicle for reducing costs.

As for which is better choice? Without a doubt for medium to large shops, an unqualified yes goes to Linux. For small shops, Windows.

What is "small" and "medium to large", is of course the obvious comeback.

In general: small shops are those who cannot afford to have their own internal IT support people and who are too small to take advantage of offshoring. Medium are those who can run their IT shops. Large are those who can, but choose to offshore/outsource it for all sorts of - potentially dubious - reasons.

Why? Well, I work in a place that can be classed as "medium". Linux server hardware costs us <1 grand a pop. Software licence costs are ridiculous when compared to equivalent Windows server costs. Oracle costs are as high as anywhere else, so that doesn't count as a term of comparison. People costs? we pay as much for a Linux person as anyone would pay for a Windows "good" person. I can't go into salary details, but believe me when I say it is so.

And another thing: choice. We can use ANY of the millions of proprietary solutions for our needs, or cook our own. Have you ever tried to do that in the Windows-sphere? Nope, it just won't happen: you are locking yourself into the Windows-only world.

We can run our solution software in ANY of the Linux ports, or in Solaris, or go to Unix for larger solutions, all with minimal change impact. NO WAY that can be done with Windows, and NO WAY there is no cost impact with change in Windows.

And another thing with the "choice" bit: Mysql ain't half bad, if nothing else at least as a weapon to put the fear of God into an Oracle rep!

This is what choice is all about: the ability to put the brakes into the Larry's and Bill's of this world. You select Windows and immediately you have given away a very large part of that choice and the power that comes with it.

Schedulers/shmedulers, my dear Longballs! Since when has quality of code been a factor anywhere in OS selection? IBM's DOS was a POS of unimaginable proportions. So is the AS400 code and its modern badge-engineered versions. Did that stop IBM from making it the most sucessful mainframe OS's ever? Nope.

Windows 3, Windows 95 and all the other 16-bit crap Microslop fostered on us for decades was what, quality? And yet, guess what became the most used OS for desktops...

So from the purely statistical point of view, if anything, the crap code making its way into Loonicks, WILL be a market advantage...

Hey: don't laugh at me, the maths are as valid as any other!

1:19 AM  
Blogger Moans Nogood said...

Mr Noons (wish I knew your real name) - that is one heck of an excellent comment, and I'll have to think about several things in it.

Something odd is happening here in my little, Danish market, which might also be happening in other markets: Those lower levels of the stack are not really attracting eager, good, young people, are they?

Hence perhaps the situation where things get "automated" from the bottom and up in the technology stack - next: The databases, I guess :).

As I said: I need to think a bit about your many good points. Then I'll be back :).


2:02 AM  
Blogger shrek said...

me, i'd run VMS if i could.;-) but i guess *for me* linux is the best choice. but that's because i'm old and set in my ways.;-) i started with unix in 1970 and have used windows from it's beginings too. what a customer needs is something they can run. and since most people use windows, that's the place they should be. now if you're talking about servers, if they have some old codger like me who knows unix, then a unix variant tends to be slightly faster and more stable than windows. but none of that means anything unless the customer can manage the server OS.

and most new people i've interviewed lately can't seem to do anythng unless it's in a GUI. and none of them seem to know what's happening behind the fancy picture front end.

*sigh* guess i'm just out of date and getting grumpy in my old age. that or i need a good beer.;-)

5:52 AM  
Anonymous ealing said...

"does that imply that nobody can be held responsible for some of the really bad (or downright missing) pieces of code in there?"

Yes it does. But then, you can hold Microsoft responsible all you like as well - it doesn't mean they're going to fix anything.

"(I would, though, suggest it's pirating on some level.)"

But it really isn't. Cleanroom re-implementation has never been piracy. Check the definitions returned by, or look at Wikipedia's disambiguation ( Piracy is not doing what someone else has already done, it's infringing IP law. If you never see the source, you can't possibly copy it.

"It might just be cheap copying, and so should NOT generate any respect whatsoever."

What do you mean by cheap copying? Actual copying of the source, or reimplementation, or something else?

"Also, people that simply copy will never get ahead"

Well, I agree they shouldn't, but look around ;-)

6:23 AM  
Blogger Doug Burns said...


It occured to me that I'd left my comment in the wrong place - on Tom's blog. That might be because he's never worn a kilt either (I assume) but I admire your taste in footwear. Anyway ...

I agree with many of your comments regarding monopolies.

However, on the technical side of things, I agree with much of what Nuno has to say. Here's my comment from Tom's blog. You can ignore the comment about the kilt at the end, it's just a gratuitous dig at you ;-)

"I see that Niall Litchfield has an interesting blog on this too and I remember our opinions differed when we were both on the Server Tech panel in Birmingham. I was in a minority on that panel in disagreeing that there shouldn't be too much difference.

To me, it's about reliability because I'm coming from a DBA perspective. I have had more Windows servers cause difficulty or need to be rebooted than Unix (all varieties) servers over the years. I have a feeling that that might be to do with differences in the administrator skills, controls and procedures between the two platforms. i.e. It's not the o/s I'm criticising per se. For example, I find that the Windows administrators I've met have less idea why things are going wrong when they do - the details are more obscure or they don't have the skills to uncover them. It could be either but, from my perspective, I don't care.

I keep hearing that Windows is getting better but I'm working on a project where we have *constant* problems with the Windows servers and virtually none on the Unix servers. That's not being biased - that's being honest about the empirical evidence.

The very best Windows database servers might be equivalent to the very best Unix/Linux servers, but I don't seem to have come across them yet.

For home, I'm delighted to use Windows most of the time. For a database server, I'll take a Unix derivative for now.

I've never worn a kilt and probably never will"

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Windows is a product
Linux is an experiment

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>and they make pirate (free) copies of many of the competitors products.

An inventor should get paid for his invention.
ASP.NET -> Struts/JSF
Java -> C# -> Java !

There may be more.

1:57 AM  
Anonymous B2b said...

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12:38 PM  
Anonymous Kevin Closson said...

"Anyone with intimate knowledge of what Operating System supports a GOOD, boutique port of Oracle relies on knows all too well that not even Oracle Corp has managed to influence the Linux Kernel sufficiently! Some of the complete junk they are mainlining is astounding, and the motives for acceptance of same is generally a bit

Hey, I know who said that :-)

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