In article <y2JT4.2532$J7.142...@typhoon.mw.mediaone.net>,
"Brad Wardell" <bward...@stardock.com> wrote:
> I'm writing an article called OSWars 2000 which
> is a *desktop* OS comparison
> of the various major operating systems
> that might be used on the home and
> corporate desktop.
This is like sending Ali into the ring with a broken arm.
One of the biggest strengths of Linux is that you can
use a single console to get the performance of multiple
machines. The most dramatic examples would be Beowulf
clusters in which rendering and animation can be driven
into a single console in real-time.
By saying "desktop only" you are attempting to force Linux
into the Windows paradigm where each user gets one console,
one processor, and one hard drive.
Linux is able to leverage the Sun "The Network is the Mainframe"
capabilities such that multiple servers, multiple workstations,
and/or multiple sites can be integrated into solutions. This
could include the use of FreeWAIS search engines to speed the
search of text repositories, to use of distributed processing
to model economic or market demographic projections.
> It doesn't deal
> with servers, purely with how they
> compare to each other in terms of
> getting work done by individuals or groups
> of individuals.
It also doesn't deal with the collaborative capabilities.
Linux was designed by a collaborative community, using Linux.
As a result, Linux has collaborative infrastructure built into
the system. Using the Windows Paradigm as an evaluation criteria
is like comparing a Farari to a moped using moped evaluation
criteria (performance on 35 mph streets, gas milage, market
promotions showing sunny weather, minimal traffic, and comfortable
When you're on a curvy mountain road, going 60 mph, through all
kinds of weather, and in dense traffic, the Moped becomes much
Linux is to UNIX systems what the Ford Escort is to Automobiles.
It isn't "top of the line", nor does it try to be. On the other
hand, it provides more than adaquate performance in the same
conditions that are normally experienced by UNIX workstations.
> The last time I did this was in 1998 ("OS Wars 98")
> when Linux wasn't quite
> as varied or advanced as it is today.
> I want to hear it from those that truly love
> Linux but also know the other OSes well.
I regularly use Linux, Windows 9x, and Windows NT.
I've been using Windows 2000 somewhat, but on a limited
> Nicholas Petreley of Linuxworld was kind enough
> to demo some of the cooler features of Linux (I've
> used Linux too but I'm I'm more of a
> casual user on Linux whereas I'm "guru" level
> on OS/2, MacOS, and Windows 98/NT/2000).
As a "guru" in these three paradigms, you can even see here,
that there are substantial differences in paradigms, not to
mention the systems themselves. Each has been designed for
certain types of users, with certain expectations, and certain
A Mac user for example barely experiences the computer as a computer,
but rather as an appliance used to create drawings. Apple has kept
the system relatively "closed", preferring to limit the introduction
of peripherals that might require complicated set-up. This has kept
prices higher, but has provided high customer satisfaction.
Windows is designed more like a framework for a variety of hardware
vendors. Microsoft has worked to minimize the operational differences
between different manufacturers - so long as Microsoft software and
standards are followed. Microsoft protects it's infrastructure with
strict nondisclosure agreements which inhibits and creates barriers
to new software applicatitions, generic 3rd party hardware, and
operating system enhancements. Even simple requirements like the
ability to read and write Fat32 and NTFS on the same drive can be
a big problem for Windows. Even Windows 2000 has incompatibilities.
Backward compatibility is not only not a goal for Microsoft, but is
considered an impediment to the revenue stream. Microsoft had to
create intentional incompatibilities to force the migration from
MS-DOS to Windows 3.1, then from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95, and then
from Windows 95 to Windows NT, and finally from Windows 95 and Windows
NT to Windows 2000. This includes forced upgrades to Office, upgrades
of Internet Explorer, and migration to new application programmer
interfaces and infrastructure.
OS/2 was killed by IBM because Microsoft threatened to deny them
Windows 95 in any form, demanded a license audit, and threatened
to create a bunch of bad press unless IBM agreed to stop selling
OS/2. Microsoft only granted IBM a license 15 minutes before the
big unveiling because they had the IBM logo on the big board of
OEMs (misleading the public into believing that IBM had endorsed
Windows 95 as the new industry standard voluntarily). Earlier
versions of OS/2 had problems with lost desktops and poor disaster
recovery strategies. Warp 3.0 provided recovery methods, and Warp 4.0
fixed the problems and minimized the damage due to illegal instructions
and other failures.
Linux started out with the intent of being UNIX compatible, which
meant that backward compatibility with UNIX, all the way back to
1980 was one of the design goals. There was a huge repository
of GNU, BSD, SunSite, and TSX-11 code available in source code
format, along with the tools to build it. Linux quickly evolved
from this base to establish an entirely new breed of user friendly
systems and applications which provided the best of the past with
the ease of use available in other GUI based operating systems.
Remember where UNIX workstations were first deployed. This gives
insight into the nature of Linux desktop advantages. For example,
UNIX was used to provide real-time monitering of real-time input
signals. Examples of this include network management, stock market
trading and monitoring, traffic control, weather service, and computer
aided design and computer aided manufacturing. UNIX systems were
designed to monitor, model, and predict the real world, in real time.
> I'd like to keep the advocacy as factual
> as possible. I.e. every OS advocate tends
> to claim their OS is rock solid and the
> others "crash twice a day".
Actually, one of the big steps forward for Windows 2000 is that
Microsoft has put a great deal of thought and planning into providing
a more reliable environment. The use of MTS, COM+, and MSMQ have
helped to minimize the impact of corrupted in-memory DLL images,
and have helped reduce the need for private copies of DLLs.
Microsoft still has problems with registry corruption, DLL management
(a service pack can break previous 3rd party applications), and this
may even be a deliberate effort on the part of Microsoft (the most
frequently "broken" applications seem to be those which compete
directly with Micrsoft's equivalent functions).
Linux still has problem of "forward compatibility", the release of
upgrades and patches to shared libraries and applications that must
be coordinated to keep a manually configured system operational.
Features such as ELF and Glibc have often created problems for
those attempting to stick with the "latest and greatest". On
the other hand, fully tested and coordinated releases of Linux
seem to arrive every 4-6 months, minimizing the need for interim
upgrades (other than security patches).
> So how would you compare Linux (Redhat, Caldera, Corel, etc.)
> as a DESKTOP OS when compared to OS/2, BeOS, Windows 2000,
> Windows 98, etc.
> Here's what I have so far in a nutshell:
> * Reasonable application support
There are 1300 "packages", including nearly 500 graphical
applications that are commercial quality and have equivalents
costing hundreds of dollars. To get the equivalent functionality
of a Mandrake 7.0 distribution, you would have to pay nearly
$6000 for nearly 200 "shrink wrapped boxes".
When evaluating applications, one should consider the primary
question - can the system store and retrieve information -from
available sources, and deliver it in a useful form. In many
cases, there are many tools that aren't "glitzy", in that they
don't have really fancy graphical "builders", but in many cases,
the scripting languages can be learned in less time than the GUI
interfaces, can be tested more quickly, and can be integrated into
other graphical interfaces (web browsers, KDE components, gnome
components, ...). Even though there are really friendly GUI
interfaces to web servers, and there are some really expensive
servers, nearly 70% of the web server market uses Apache, CGI, and
Mod_PERL. As nifty as the GUI tools might be, a "quick and dirty"
script can be whipped up in a matter of minutes.
In the Windows 9x/NT/2000 world, the cost of running "out of process"
components was far too high. As a result, applications were highly
integrated because they had to be. In many cases, the operating system
would only allow on instance of an application to run. Multiple
documents would be run under the same master frame (MDI), and the same
object was expected to have methods to create, edit, print, display,
cut, paste, and link/embed the object. A word "document" was actually
a word document with various objects "embedded" within designated
UNIX goes a step beyond this, providing the tools required to
transform content from one form to another, providing the ability
to transform mark-up script into presentation quality content
suitable for publication as textbooks, web content, or as interactive
> * Reasonable driver support
Driver support is a function both manufacturer interest and
nondisclosure agreements. Many manufacturers were reluctant
to publish the source code for their drivers. Linux modules
have reduced the need for source code, since binary drivers
can be included as modules without violating the GPL Linux
> * Ability to quickly and
read more »