“For all of us who have lives, there’s Windows” – David Gewirtz

I couldn’t resist pointing out this article about dropping Linux in favor of Windows.  In the mid-2000s I made a concerted effort to learn and use Linux.  I even went as far as running it on my laptop, and taking that laptop to some Microsoft executive presentations (done with Open Office I might add) to make a point.  The laptop was one that the OEM (Dell) had refused to update to support Windows XP, but Linux ran just fine on it.  However, my experience was much as David Gewirtz reports is still true today for Linux servers.  You get a Linux distribution, you craft it together from the pieces-parts to get the system you want, and then you either never change a thing or you put in an enormous effort to make any change (even a security update) and still keep it running.  My conclusion on the client side was that Linux was not something I’d ever give my mother, cousins, etc. to run.  And while as a “hacker” I loved the idea I could customize the server to my heart’s content, it always seemed to me that the total cost of ownership was much higher than Windows.  After all, it was many years ago where Hardware and Software became cheap (dirt cheap actually) and labor costs skyrocketed.  So a solution that lowers software costs further, at greatly increased labor costs, doesn’t make economic sense.

The one place where Linux makes enormous sense to me is in embedded systems.  That’s because you can apply some expertise to customization to get your product running exactly as you desire, and then pump out copies in volume.  In other words, its leveraged just like any high-volume software business.

So here we are 6-7 years later and I would have expected Linux to have matured into something much less labor intensive for an IT shop to use on servers.  Based on Gewirtz’s experience, if anything it seems like its gotten worse.

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5 Responses to “For all of us who have lives, there’s Windows” – David Gewirtz

  1. Jeff Burns says:

    It has changed greatly just in the last 2 years. Gewirtz just outsmarted himself, and was trying to use Ubuntu packages and instructions for CentOS (different OS’s), and trying to bend it to his will instead of using the appropriate methods for the OS he deployed. He should have installed Ubuntu server which matched his instructions, and done proper lab testing prior. Based on his descriptions, he could have downed a Windows server following the same antics.

    • halberenson says:

      Another great Ubuntu experience, this time on the client.

      • Jeff Burns says:

        Well, the first one was on CentOS which historically bad upgrades and some extenuating circumstances of the guy torpedoing himself.

        Perlow’s is a legitimate complaint about the current Ubuntu version. Unfortunately the current default Ubuntu with the Unity UI is in an experimental phase. Why it is pushed out on the masses I don’t know. It isn’t very bright, and resembles MS’s Vista debacle in that regard, before they put out Win7 which is OK again. Lubuntu, Xubuntu and Kubuntu are all running great with 11.04 and 11.10, it is Unity Ubuntu that is having the majority of the troubles, and since it’s the flagship of Canonical, it gets the headlines… I run Kubuntu now in order to escape the Ubuntu desktop mess. Pretty nice, and Lubuntu and Xubuntu are also nice and very FAST, with less eye candy. The regular Ubuntu still isn’t going well on the desktop though due to the experimental UI. I wish they mark it experimental (which it is) and waive folks off to the other more conventional desktop ‘Buntu’s listed above. Hopefully Unity will be out of the experimental phase by 12.04LTS release next April. Canonical just restructured, so I’m hoping their head will come out of a certain rear cavity soon.

        I’ve been through similar or WORSE upgrade experiences on Windows though with Service Packs and such. But realistically, if ever an OS was going to go PFFFFFFFFFFT, it is during an upgrade. :)

        I will say that on Debian based Linux’s like Ubuntu, I generally expect the upgrade to “just work” as over time it generally has done that. Worst case on an Ubuntu upgrade failure, I just reinstall the new version on top of it, and my preferences are maintained down to my last Firefox session being restored less than an hour later. On Windows, I don’t have an expectation on release upgrades to work. In fact XP to Win7 there isn’t a direct path. I format the box, install the new version, and re-import my data. Big hassle.

        • halberenson says:

          I think you are just proving the point that Linux is a mess. Any one island within the Linux world may have its own semblance of sanity, but overall it’s like the tribes on the Survivor TV show.

  2. Jeff Burns says:

    I don’t think so really. I actually just made a point that *some* Linux distros are a mess, and all Windows versions are a mess, but in different ways. Ubuntu Linux is actually (and surprisingly) less of a mess than Windows for the most part right now. The industry is in a disruptive phase right now, so things being a mess on all OS’s may be normal for a couple more years, particularly if Metro is anything of a preview of things to come. For me, I’ll make a living off of this mess either way, and with any OS. The more of a mess it gets, the better my income will be probably. :) The current market resembles what I was working with in 1990 right at the beginning of Windows dominance when it was an open field between DOS/Windows and OS/2 (and then the nascent OS/2 NT now known as WindowsNT). Who knows what will be dominant 10 years from now? At the moment, all the tech companies are like tribes on survivor… HP’s, RIM’s and even Apple’s 4S batterygate and dissapointing 4S screen size missteps are all pointers of that. It’s a dog eat dog world in the tech sector.

    Strictly speaking, Linux is just a kernel. There are several operating systems built around that kernel, some better than others. Some folks use CentOS and RedHat, or SuSE or OpenSuSE. Other folks use Debian, and other folks use Ubuntu which is based on Debian. There is choice and freedom with the tools to do what is needed for the task at hand. To put it in perspective, if you don’t like Metro with the new Windows 8, you’re pretty much stuck. In contrast, if you don’t like Unity, it is an easy/quick UI switch to Kubuntu, Lubuntu, or Xubuntu. The old adage in business is NEVER get stuck to a single supplier / single point of failure. Microsoft is a single point of failure.

    BSD is the same way, with a few operating systems are built around it, with BSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, etc etc, as well as Mac, iPhone, and the rest of the Apple lineup. Some code in Windows around the network stack was part BSD (until recently if I read correctly).

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