Migrate With Confidence From Microsoft Windows Servers to UNIX/Linux
Strategic Information for IT Executives and Managers
A white paper by Jon C. LeBlanc
(Hewlett Packard Certified IT Professional,
Sun Microsystems Certified Solaris System Administrator)
Copyright © 2002 by Jon C. LeBlanc.
This material may be distributed only subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open
Publication License, v1.0 or later (the latest version is presently available at http://www.opencontent.org/openpub/).
Distribution of substantively modified versions of this document is prohibited without the explicit
permission of the copyright holder.
Originally published: March 29, 1999
Latest update: December 8, 2002
Web Location of this document:
of this document, courtesy of TDLP-ES:
of this document coming soon, courtesy of TDLP-ES:
of an earlier version of this document, courtesy of Anne Oergaard:
(http://www.sslug.dk/~anne/) and Kim Futtrup Petersen.
This paper and site are intended to provide today's leading Information
Technology executives, managers, system administrators, and purchasers with clear, brief,
factual arguments for migrating some or all of their corporate
computing resources away from the Microsoft Windows NT, 2000, XP, and .NET Server operating systems to an
attractive, time-tested, ever-more-popular environment: UNIX/Linux.
In the corporate community, making the wrong choices can have devastating fiscal and productivity
results in the extreme, and unsatisfactory results in the least. Compelling reasons (efficiency,
security, performance, software and licensing cost) exist for migrating systems away from Microsoft
Windows NT, 2000, and XP Operating Systems and for avoiding the purchase of Microsoft Windows .NET Server. Is
this white paper applicable to your environment? If your major software applications
run only on Windows operating systems and your organization is not well disposed to change from them, it
likely is not. Nonetheless, this white paper will serve to illustrate future paths and alternatives.
Additionally, a migration to Java-based services is recommended, but not discussed in this white paper.
I have implemented Microsoft Windows NT and 2000 versions in global-scale computing environments,
and I am in direct contact with corporate testers of Microsoft Windows XP and pre-release .NET Server
versions. Concurrently, I have
implemented and administered global-scale UNIX versions from Hewlett-Packard, Sun
Microsystems, IBM, Compaq (pre-HP), and other UNIX vendors, as well as Linux distributions from Red Hat,
Mandrake, Corel, TurboLinux, and SUSE. I am evaluating Apple's OS X. As an experienced educator, IT manager,
and multi-platform system administrator, my credentials will hopefully assure.
The UNIX/Linux Alternative to Microsoft Windows Servers
Variants of the UNIX OS (Operating System) have been in development or production for over three
making it one of the most stable, capable, trustworthy, and constantly improving operating systems
available today for high-end servers and supercomputers, while also remaining the solution of
high performance workstations. Leading vendor varieties of UNIX are Solaris from Sun
Microsystems, AIX from IBM, HP-UX from Hewlett Packard, True64 from Compaq (pre-HP),
IRIX from SGI, and SCO from the Santa Cruz Operation (now part of Caldera). These
commercial OSes are different in their minute particulars, yet adhere to generic UNIX
specifications. Other UNIX varieties are offered in a considerably less commercial vein, yet are fully
featured and capable of front-line use in many instances: FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and others.
When Apple concluded that their Macintosh OS had soldiered on well beyond its years, they turned to
UNIX as the basis of their modern, greatly superior replacement product called OS X.
As an offshoot of UNIX with over ten years of development, Linux employs (and often enhances)
essential design features, concepts, standards, and performance. In this sense Linux is sometimes
considered a UNIX clone, yet is probably more accurately described as "UNIX-like". Unless
discussing specific differences between UNIX and Linux, one can be comfortable referring to them
generically in similar terms, in most cases. Leading Linux distributions (versions, or flavours)
are Red Hat, Debian, Mandrake, Caldera, SUSE, TurboLinux, and Conectiva. All are routinely inter-operable
with each other. In fact, the latter four vendors have committed to offering a standardized version
amongst them called United Linux. Global-scale hardware vendor support of Linux is provided by IBM,
HP, SGI, Dell, and (most recently) Sun, among others.
UNIX was born and raised in the milieu of high performance, highly connected computing. UNIX, the
C computer language, and TCP/IP networking were co-developed in the 1970s and are intrinsically
inseparable within the OS. Originally called the "UNICS Time Sharing System" when first developed
by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie et al of Bell Labs, UNIX was
designed from the ground up to be a multi-tasking, multi-user computing environment. Linux picks up
directly on that basis. Both continue to have their already viable capabilities methodically expanded.
Microsoft Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP offer comparison to UNIX/Linux, but only at the
lower end workstation/small server level. In the early 1990s, Windows NT was rolled out by Microsoft
as a low cost, DOS-and-VMS-based alternative to UNIX and other operating systems, and Microsoft
certainly did nothing to stop a growing perception of it as a potential "UNIX Killer".
Engineers and developers recruited from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) brought excellent VMS-based
expertise into the Microsoft fold. Dave Cutler, considered the "father" of NT and perhaps the key
developer of DEC's VMS OS, had been working at DEC on a new OS, code-named "Mica", meant to be a
successor to VMS. DEC's highest management were troubled that Cutler was approaching the design from a
hardware platform-neutral operating stance. Central to the Mica design was the concept of the "Hardware
Abstraction Layer" (HAL) that offered a uniform software platform regardless of the underlying computer
machinery. In retrospect, and somewhat ironically, HAL was a foreshadowing of Sun's Java platform, which has
as its main goal the equal functioning across disparate hardware architectures and which Microsoft has
fought an ongoing crusade against. Doubly ironically, in a feat of twisted logic, Microsoft has
subsequently cloned Java into their own "C#" platform (a crippled Java-clone running only on Microsoft
DEC executives, worrying that their proprietary hardware-derived revenue would suffer as Mica was potentially
adapted by non-DEC hardware vendors, terminated the Mica project. Cutler, now adrift, was quickly integrated
into Microsoft and began work on the Windows NT project in 1988. Amid suspicions of intellectual property
theft, DEC eventually sued Microsoft, citing that Cutler and his Mica team had actually continued the same
project within Microsoft, culminating in the birth of the Windows NT OS. After Microsoft settled the case
with DEC for $150 million, inside sources alleged that large quantities of NT's code (and even most of the
programmer's comments) were identical to Mica's.
Implicit in this tale is that no matter what the conditions were by which Microsoft had acquired this new
project, they had the promise of a world-class OS in their hands. Had Microsoft's small team of NT developers
outranked their marketers, corporate computing would likely be quite different today.
The root of the problems with Windows NT and Microsoft's successor OSes in the corporate computing world is
that NT grew out of a small team project (run by outsiders) from within Microsoft's only understanding of
computing experience: a very limited, local, small scale desktop computing environment in which any connected
computers were assumed to be completely trusted and the OS was not capable of real time multi-tasking or
multi-user computing. While the NT team were ready to use their new OS to help Microsoft address those huge
shortcomings in their product line, management insisted that the marketers' favourite features, no
matter how technically unworthy, were to be grafted onto the NT OS. Under such pressure, the technical
poisoning of the NT platform began.
From the beginnings of NT, Microsoft's relentless, cyclical model of OS version replacement meant that even
the best efforts to create a
commercial-grade multi-user, multi-tasking OS were hindered by the sequential, marketing-driven loading
of feature sets rather than intrinsically technical security, scalability, and stability improvements.
Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP are directly built on Windows NT technology, as their bootup splash
screens declare, and the fundamental development urges within Microsoft have not changed.
Rewrites and redesigns of many of the most basic features of Microsoft OSes are
mandated in the name of product differentiation, often stranding users of former versions with little
or no continuing support before those versions could be brought by their manufacturer to a state of
robustness, stability, and trustworthiness. The Microsoft marketing-driven product cycle took a new
spin with Windows XP's late-2001 roll out, so quickly after the release of their Windows 2000 OS. To be
clearer, Microsoft's product differentiation is not often correlated with product improvement.
Commercial "rush to market" concerns have raised serious doubts of the quality of many Microsoft products,
as discussed later in regards to security issues.
Microsoft Windows NT was full of promise at its release, as was Windows 2000, and Windows XP. Many of the
most celebrated NT marketing promises continued to go unfulfilled even as it was updated with its
sixth service pack in 1999, while Windows 2000 provided improvements but similar, additional, and alternative
difficulties. XP's feature set, weak security stance, and generally poor multi-tasking and multi-user
support strain the use of the word improvement in comparison to Microsoft's previous OS offerings.
Network & Overall Environment Compatibility
Regarding medium and high-end servers, major corporate users have traditionally relied on UNIX to
support commercial grade applications from vendors such as Oracle, Sybase, SAP, Lotus Notes, and
they have become increasingly comfortable with the Linux operating system on web servers
(typically running the popular Open Source web server application called Apache), lower end
servers for small business, local environments, and in the data center. In
fact, the IT industry has displayed a significant willingness to migrate from low end UNIX machines
to Linux due to its ease of substitution and significantly reduced cost over UNIX-vendor proprietary
hardware as opposed to predominantly x86-based equipment. This transition is
inestimably by the fact that both UNIX and Linux allow administrators to completely integrate
methodologies (based on universal, "open" technical
standards and protocols) between and amongst these machines.
Linux migration continues to fare quite well in the class of small-size
servers and workstations often inhabited by Microsoft Windows NT, 2000 and XP. The Microsoft
products are largely based on proprietary network protocols, file and
data formats, and functionality. These typically thwart such vertical integration and compel IT
leaders towards "lock in" to the closed, Microsoft-centric subset. Modifying a Windows Server or
Workstation to comply with universal protocols can be difficult and costly.
Experience of recent years shows that as personnel who have made their careers mostly or only in
the Microsoft OS world have been promoted in corporate IT management structures, they have tended to
see enterprise computing as an extension to Microsoft-based desktop computing, and thus have tended
to address the requirements for medium and high-end server environments from an insufficiently broad
skill set and vantage point. Microsoft's corporate strategy of trying to make administration of their OSes
"easy" has undoubtedly opened the computing world to untold millions of people, but it unfortunately
has also resulted in a pretense that the administration of critical corporate computing environments is an
A resulting Microsoft-centric computing ecosystem unjustifiably
brings about the elevation of Microsoft OSes to an artificially high level in corporate
environments, given the capabilities (or lack thereof) of the Microsoft server products. As is
human nature, such mindsets and cultures are difficult to sway, even in the face of unflattering
comparison (of which an abundance now exists).
The net result to a network or enterprise computing situation is an artificial stratification of
OSes based on their capability (or lack thereof) to inter-operate as one environment. The Windows
OSes have bred a separate, less-flexible class of administrators, employing its own proprietary
administrative means and requiring specific training apart from that of the UNIX/Linux camp. In
almost every case, the quantity of administrators required to oversee a Microsoft-centric computing
environment is much higher than for an equivalent UNIX/Linux environment, for many reasons outlined
in this paper.
The TCP/IP suite of protocols, created and developed on UNIX and administered by international
standards bodies, are routinely reworked by Microsoft to thwart inter-operability with other
operating systems. As an example, Microsoft Corporation appropriated and made extensions to an open,
public network security protocol, Kerberos, that was developed at MIT and made available
free of charge to the entire computing community. It is widely suspected by the designers of
Kerberos and other experts that the extensions Microsoft introduced to their Windows 2000
implementation of Kerberos had no other conceivable purpose other than to render competitors'
products incompatible with Microsoft workstations, in order to compel firms to adopt Microsoft
rather than UNIX/Linux servers. As described later, the Microsoft "Active Directory" product is
central to that company's plans for competing with over-arching directory services environments
like the open standard LDAP and Samba, or Novell's "Netware", among others.
Microsoft's fear of adhering completely to the open Kerberos standard is that outsiders could conceivably
clone the centerpiece of their Active Directory offering: the "domain controller" server, and so the
secret Kerberos extensions effectively thwart the sort of reverse engineering that would be required to
Additionally, given the recent surge in the use of free and open LDAP and Samba server environments
directory services to Windows clients, Microsoft has evidently not taken this threat to their Active
Directory income idly: they've taken
direct aim at LDAP itself with their "Outlook 2002" product, which has had the previously well
Outlook LDAP lookup interface redesigned in a way that causes great problems in information retrieval.
Side-by-side tests of Outlook 2002 with previous Outlook versions, Netscape, and Mozilla LDAP clients
show that the newest version now can take minutes to receive data that the others receive
instantaneously. Researchers have identified
that the newest interface has been poorly rewritten, and that attempts to force it to send
proper LDAP queries do not work. Outlook 2002 is optimized to use Microsoft Active Directory, however.
Microsoft's chosen TCP/IP-based networking methodology, CIFS-SMB, is an inherently
inefficient protocol that requires significantly more network traffic for a given job than the UNIX
protocol known as NFS (which is itself not an elegant paradigm). CIFS-SMB is a "blabber mouth",
sending large amounts of easily captured information across the network. As Microsoft knows
that the use of CIFS-SMB must eventually be brought to a close, they offer another network-based file
system methodology, DFS (Distributed File System), which is very reminiscent of NFS in its use of
"mounting" of remote file systems. It is sufficiently different from established practice that Windows
administrators have been very reluctant to embrace it (because it's not "easy"?) and Microsoft has
done seemingly little to
popularize it. It would be most difficult to find a UNIX/Linux administrator who does not use NFS,
and although early versions of NFS had stability difficulties, these troubles all but
disappeared when NFS transitioned to Version 3 over the past few years.
Since both NFS and CIFS-SMB are today's standards for file system inter-operability between computers, it is
important to note that UNIX/Linux servers can speedily and efficiently operate in both protocols, while
Windows servers routinely underperform in comparison tests and are not capable of providing NFS services
without additional software and licenses. By using the Open Source (free of charge) server application
called Samba, a UNIX/Linux machine can be made to appear as an NT, 2000, or XP file server in the
Microsoft clients' Network Neighborhood interfaces. Owing to the underlying UNIX/Linux operating
system's excellent data input/output performance, a Samba server routinely outperforms its equivalent
Microsoft-only server in speed and reliability. Indeed, benchmark test results published in PC Magazine
showed that the latest Samba software surpassed the performance of Windows 2000 by about 100 percent.
Microsoft employs CIFS-SMB not only for file services but also for printing and central
administration of computer naming and user/resource authentication between Microsoft servers and
workstations in a logical environment called a "domain". Each domain requires a Primary Domain
(PDC), and for failover protection a Backup Domain Controller (BDC). Depending on the age
and size of the Windows domain, a Primary and Secondary Windows Internet Naming Service
server may also be required (WINS is another Microsoft-only protocol not needed in any other
The latest releases of
Samba allow a UNIX/Linux server to be a one-for-one replacement for a Windows PDC (indeed a
three-for-one since it can also replace the WINS servers in the example above). For small
IT organizations, the known durability of a UNIX/Linux Samba server for supporting the file and
print needs of a Windows client pool is a very compelling alternative to the costly, less-stable
Windows server option. For large scale organizations, leading UNIX platforms such as Sun Solaris and
specially crafted Samba servers within their kernels (rather than as user-level applications)
for SAN (Storage Area Network) and/or NAS (Network Attached Storage) support of large
Windows client pools. A UNIX/Linux server can simultaneously support Windows clients via
Samba while supporting UNIX/Linux clients via NFS, Macintosh clients
via Netatalk (an Open Source alternative to Appletalk), and limited Novell Netware client
support via MarsNWE (an Open Source Netware emulator, although Novell markets their own Linux-based
Netware products that allow full functionality).
Active Directory's reputation has been clouded by complaints of difficult administration and
disappointing performance. Some leading-vendor hardware implementations running Windows 2000 with
Active Directory have been found to be unable to support more than five levels beneath the directory
root before unacceptable performance losses are encountered. Given that the intent of a typical
directory services structure is to mimic or correspond to the actual
corporate structure in place, five levels is clearly insufficient for most medium-sized businesses. By
comparison, advanced LDAP implementations of the kind found on UNIX/Linux architecture can support
scores of directory levels, while on supercomputer-class UNIX installations hundreds of levels of LDAP
directory may be seen.
For those IT organizations that need to
maintain Microsoft-based directory services but would prefer the benefits of UNIX/Linux on the server end,
the Samba team has announced that their upcoming Samba Version 3.0 will be fully Active Directory
capable. It is highly unlikely that such a hardware/software combination would suffer the performance and
security limitations of Microsoft's present offering. Of course it has been suggested that Microsoft
client software will then be amended to thwart such usage, as was Outlook 2002 in regards to LDAP.
Microsoft's .NET Framework and Office Future
Windows XP is the vanguard OS for Microsoft's ".NET Framework" initiative, which ostensibly
seeks to create an
Internet-capable P2P (person to person) data and authentication sharing regime. Industry people have
taken to labelling such offerings as "Web Services", but then cannot seem to precisely define what
those are. Observers see .NET Framework as an attempt by Microsoft to privatize or commoditize the Internet.
It has been commonly suggested that Microsoft's corporate goal, in the face of dwindling prospects of
growth or sustainibility in the traditional PC marketplace, is to reshape itself from an operating
system and software application vendor into an Internet-based commercial data, messaging, application
software, and authentication clearinghouse. The .NET Framework initiative seeks to leverage Microsoft's
the large pool of Windows desktop users connected to the Internet, eventually giving Microsoft a "cut"
of all financial transactions conducted over .NET services.
The Windows XP OS was released for workstations, and the Windows .NET Server OS will be targeted at
server-class machines. Both OSes contain embedded, often compulsory application usage of such .NET
Framework features as "Passport" user authentication, which is Microsoft's attempt at a "single
sign on" technology for the Internet, in which users will not have to remember a multitude of usernames
and passwords nor have to enter their personal information into different Web sites. Personal information
such as contact lists and event calendars would also be stored within the Passport system, meaning that
this technology will have to depend on a potentially colossal storehouse of private data. Users will be
implored at many opportunities to sign up for a Passport membership and (if Microsoft has its way) will
find that access to many popular Internet features will not be possible without one. This external
marketing influence should be seen as an undesirable security and privacy threat to a self-controlled
computing environment. Sensitive, proprietary user information and corporate data could find its way
outside of local network control.
Even if Microsoft's .NET Framework initiative does not saturate the computing industry as the much more
corporately popular, Sun Microsystems-sponsored "Project Liberty" scheme competes directly against it, the
amorphous suite of .NET Framework components is clearly being designed to operate primarily and optimally
only on Microsoft OSes, so again Microsoft's plans would seem to argue against other OS environments.
Multi-platform applicability is being ostensibly touted, yet Microsoft's own technical publicity and
software development releases counter such promises and presage customer "lock in" to their products.
Implicit is that Microsoft desires complete control over the standards and technologies by which
businesses conduct their computer information operations.
To wit, Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer has described how the Microsoft Office software suite is
destined to become the conduit that will connect end users with .NET server and network resources. Office
is being rewritten to behave as a "relational XML store" in which Microsoft intends to bring together, in
Ballmer's words, "...one storage system instead of doing HTML, the file system, the database system, the
e-mail system, they all today have their own search to manage, their own query, their own programmability,
etc., and that is part of the thing that stands between getting Office to be a front end for payroll
processing or decision support or workflow applications."
Such a repository of private user data as that being planned to support .NET would be a lucrative prize
and industrial spies. The security and privacy implications of trusting elemental messaging,
authentication, financial, and
data operations to Internet-based, Microsoft-controlled systems like .NET, Passport, and others are
most serious, as discussed in the Security section further on in this white paper. Indeed, a
proof-of-concept .NET virus called W32.DONUT was successfully written in January of 2002, capable of
readily infecting key Microsoft .NET Intermediate Language (MSIL) files, that are the
underpinning of .NET-computer intercommunication. The "real" viruses are presumably (or
obviously?) to come.
Platform and Software Inter-Operability
Sensible IT leaders know that single-vendor environments are much less desirable than mixed shops. An
argument promulgated by Microsoft marketers is that by staying with an all-Microsoft system,
inter-operability and ease of use are guaranteed. This is a patent misconception. Competition improves the
breed, yet Microsoft allows no such competition. By using secretive, internal software measures to close the
door on the offerings of competitor vendors, Microsoft forces customers to use only their products, but they
therefore cannot guarantee to customers that "best of breed" components are actually being provided.
Additionally, Microsoft has taken unprecedented steps to glue their own server products together using
their .NET Framework, such that even routine interchanges between Microsoft machines are tied into .NET's
functionality. Troublingly, even if a customer was to find a competitive non-Microsoft product, the
customer would be proscribed by the End User License Agreement (EULA) of the newest Service Packs for
Windows 2000 and XP from using any benchmark tests as the premise for the switchover. The EULA reads:
"You may not disclose the results of any benchmark test of the .NET Framework component of the OS
Components to any third party without Microsoft's prior written approval.". Since corporate
purchasing decisions require substantive rationale or justification prior to outlay, it would not be
possible for testers to publicize their "proof" of a competitor's superiority without Microsoft's
consent. It is difficult to believe that any such permission would be forthcoming from Redmond.
The cellular design of Microsoft software packages (owing to the fact that over the years Microsoft purchased
almost all of its leading software applications from other groups) almost guarantees the requirement of
additional staff to specialize in their administration. Interfaces and procedures differ widely, from the
minor (different pull down menus) to the major (substantially different administration interfaces and
required skill sets). For a realistic example, such applications as Exchange, IIS, and SQL Server would
comprise an entire computing application environment running only on Microsoft NT, 2000, or .NET servers. No
competitive OSes are allowed to support those specific applications. As discussed further below, security
vulnerabilities of those Microsoft OSes could cause all to be jeopardized simultaneously, effectively
incapacitating a corporation's entire computing system (in several recent occurrences this has already
happened to Microsoft-only server environments).
The UNIX/Linux approach holds that versions, hardware, and capability can be accurately matched
within a computing environment to specific situations. It is common to find corporate systems
that employ several versions of UNIX/Linux simultaneously. For a realistic example, an enterprise
computing environment may consist of a Lotus Domino
server running on HP-UX, an Oracle database running on Solaris, while beside them a web server is
running Apache on Linux, an e-commerce server is running on IRIX, and the entire system is backed
up using AIX. Since all of those OSes use standard UNIX/Linux commands and
protocols, automation and scripting of tasks is easily performed on all of them (often remotely)
with little or no adaptation of tools or retraining of staff. While such a mixed environment may
have its downside (confusion of arranging support from so many vendors, etc.) the IT leader would
find such a competitive environment to be a budgetary and security boon.
Of server-class operating systems, UNIX/Linux is exceptionally capable of supporting competing
operating system software and network clients. The options available from Microsoft for Windows NT,
2000, and XP to support UNIX/Linux and other OS clients are minimal in comparison.
Although both UNIX/Linux and Windows servers can emulate Netware and Appletalk servers, the
underlying OS makes a great difference to the speed and stability of the server, and UNIX/Linux
Side-by-side comparisons on similar hardware show that UNIX/Linux is more stable, requires less
administration, and is faster at read/write operations than Microsoft Windows NT and Windows
2000, even though the latter sports the latest enhancements to Microsoft's NTFS disk file system.
Evidence for credible refutation of these statements is not to be found, given routine web searches and
industry word-of-mouth. Major computer publications are forbidden by Microsoft advertising agreements and
other licenses from offering such side-by-side tests. Indeed, only the most stilted, obtuse bench tests can
be made to show a particular superiority of an NT or 2000 machine to a UNIX/Linux one of equal hardware
Real world, corporate evidence has shown conclusively that UNIX/Linux machines operate for months, if not
years, without need for a reboot, and crashes are rare. This is not so with Windows NT, which is prone to
disaster for no apparent reason even after having had all its Service Packs applied. Competent system
administrators from both the Microsoft and non-Windows worlds recommended that Microsoft Windows NT be
abandoned wherever and whenever possible. Evidence shows Windows 2000 to be quantifiably more stable than
NT, but still not in the same league as UNIX/Linux. Windows 2000 also offers enhanced monitoring of failures
and greater recovery tools than its predecessor. Microsoft promises that .NET server will offer greater
kernel stability. As for XP, in Bill Gates' amusing words: "The error-reporting features built into Office
XP and Windows XP are giving us an enormous amount of feedback..."
At great additional cost, the less reliable nature of Microsoft OSes can be addressed by
"clustering" them for High Availability (HA), which introduces a level of complexity beyond
Windows-trained administrators. Microsoft Datacenter is a clustering product available only
from certain Microsoft-certified vendors. Based on the applications being locally utilized, a
custom Windows 2000 solution is created specifically for an individual site. Each implementation
is therefore different,
and creation of the system often involves consultations between the vendor, engineers from the
hardware manufacturer(s), and Microsoft. The resulting solution is captured permanently onto CDs
and transported to the customer site for installation. For IT leaders, a certain loss of control is
inevitable since local administrators are not allowed to make any changes, but it could be
argued that this is a logical demand since the Datacenter agreement often guarantees 99.999%
Since no changes are allowed to a Microsoft Datacenter implementation once it has been deployed,
such as Service Packs or Hotfixes, there are troubling deficiencies in dependence on a remote
organization for such critical updates, as discussed below in regards to security. Further, the
vendor requires 24-hour monitoring of the Datacenter system, so the local network must provide
complete remote access to an outside organization, which introduces network security concerns.
Clustering of UNIX/Linux machines for HA is routine, but there is an additional category from which
Microsoft OSes are notably absent:
High Performance (HPC) clustering. HA and HPC clustering capability is available
from mainstream UNIX vendors at high cost, configured by specially trained individuals for
mission-critical environments such as in scientific research,
e-commerce, and finance. Over the past few years a viable, low cost HPC alternative has come
forward, based on Linux. When clustered into HA or HPC configurations, Linux provides a comparatively
low cost (but at high productivity yield) platform for such purposes as failover web serving with
Apache or for
ultra high speed scientific research using Open Source Beowulf software. Indeed, many
academic, scientific, and military organizations (such as the U.S. based Sandia and Livermore
labs) have implemented Linux-based Beowulf clusters. Some schools have discovered the benefit of
supercomputing at bargain-basement prices by creating Linux-based Beowulf clusters out of previously
used pools of common desktop PCs (of course augmented with special networking devices to suit).
Realistically, most commercial software applications would not require the type of benefit wrought
by a supercomputer, but it is very illustrative to see how easily UNIX/Linux can adapt to this and
many other roles while Microsoft OSes simply cannot. It must be noted that as with Microsoft
Datacenter, high end UNIX/Linux HA and HPC systems are generally handled by outside organizations with
very limiting agreements for local administration, although all necessary documentation and software to
create a Linux/Beowulf cluster is freely available from the Open Source community.
In medium to lower level environments not requiring HA or HPC performance, Windows OSes are not as
reliable as UNIX/Linux ones. The vast majority of failures in Windows OSes are caused by software
problems. Since UNIX/Linux servers are far less prone to such software difficulties, the remaining
reliability concern for them is therefore their underlying hardware. Historically, such failures are
few, and indeed microscopic in number in comparison to Windows OS software crashes. While the Windows-based
world addresses OS instability by clustering a few or many discrete hardware servers for failover
protection, a single UNIX/Linux server with dual or multi-pathed hardware can usually replace a cluster
of Windows servers with no appreciable worry of down time. Stories of large quantities of Windows
servers being replaced by one or a few of the UNIX/Linux type are increasingly common in today's IT
The greater "down" time on Windows machines can be expensive in monetary cost, but also in productivity.
Purposeful changes to the configuration of an NT machine by a qualified administrator often require a
complete reboot, even for alterations that in the UNIX/Linux world would be considered routine and trivial on
a constantly running machine. Windows 2000 and XP have significantly reduced the quantity of required reboots
from NT, yet reboots are required at a much greater frequency than on UNIX/Linux. Availability of
applications on Windows OSes is therefore less robust than on UNIX/Linux. Rebooting a machine to correct
problems, a common Microsoft system administration technique, is a counter-productive and costly strategy. IT
leaders of a daring bent may find adoption of Windows servers exhilarating. Worse, they may have already been
conditioned to believe that the "culture of the reboot" is normal and acceptable. After all, rebooting
is "easy". UNIX/Linux is modular in nature, adapting to changing conditions with aplomb. Real time
administration and error resolution is routine, and an adminstrator can usually isolate and/or "kill"
and restart offending programs without affecting the OS itself, or other programs. UNIX/Linux machines just
keep going, and going, and going...
Potential purchasers of Windows .NET Server must be aware that it is guesswork as to whether an organization
can trust the new version, especially where financial computing or e-commerce is concerned. Unlike
UNIX/Linux, a significant body of evidence of its kernel stability cannot be found. Such data for UNIX is
commonplace, and the progress of Linux kernel development and testing is completely visible to all interested
One of the favorite commands of the UNIX/Linux administrator is uptime,
which displays the time period since the last reboot. Unlike typical
periods of days for Windows NT or a week or two for Windows 2000 and XP,
the usual UNIX/Linux uptime period is measured in months, if not years. Undoubtedly some
Windows administrators get above average uptimes with diligent care and attention, but
invariably those machines are not heavily tasked.
Complicating durability matters on Windows servers is the need to reboot as part of routine
anti-virus update activities,
meaning that even if the systems had not become unstable they would still require down time. As
UNIX/Linux machines are not susceptible to such virus difficulties. For
reasons of durability and long service periods without interruption, such tasks as e-commerce and
critical data manipulation are best serviced by UNIX/Linux and not by Microsoft Windows servers.
With UNIX/Linux's superior performance and multitasking capabilities, the quantity of machines can be reduced
when a conversion away from Microsoft Windows servers is undertaken. To
use an analogy, pulling a wagon is always better with one horse than with two
hundred chickens. Fewer machines means greater efficiency, less
electricity, and speedier integration of new duties. As described below, large corporate IT
organizations are finding this to be absolutely true.
Linux and certain UNIX varieties (FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, SCO, Solaris-x86,
speedily and efficiently on
Intel-type (x86) hardware previously
determined by Microsoft to be "obsolete" for many of its NT 4.0
(Internet Information Server, Back Office Server, other
"Enterprise" server editions) and all of its Windows 2000 (and later) versions, while
providing equal or similar functionality to the Microsoft
products. The longer
duration of usable machine life afforded by UNIX/Linux OSes means that
the capital costs of the hardware can be spread over greater time, while
hardware costs of migrating away from NT and 2000 are minimal or nil. For years, shortcomings in
Windows OS stability have often, unjustifiably, been blamed on the x86 hardware platform rather
than on the true culprit: the Windows OS itself. As proven by the Linux and UNIX alternatives, no
doubt to the delight of x86-based system manufacturers Intel and AMD, there's nothing wrong with
those systems that a decent OS won't cure.
As was the case with Windows 2000 and XP, intent upgraders to Microsoft Windows .NET Server must be prepared
for the cost of new hardware demanded of that version. Since Microsoft's operating
systems routinely under-perform when compared to UNIX/Linux on the same hardware, the
technical strategy of Microsoft has been to achieve greater performance
through faster hardware. While this has historically helped the hardware vendors, the
considerations of IT departments are clearly not part of Microsoft's consideration.
Costly RAM and CPU upgrades were obligatory for Windows 2000 and XP, meaning that
newer, faster machines replaced suitably operational machines already in use. Once again Microsoft
demands of already stretched IT budgets that current inventories of machines now providing
Windows terms) performance are being rendered useless by new Microsoft Windows versions.
This "forced hardware obsolescence" means that many of today's most commonplace hardware interface
cards (network, disk, video, audio controllers) are not supported by the newer Microsoft operating systems.
Unless drivers are made available from the interface card vendors themselves, many previously purchased
hardware items are not configurable on new Windows versions. Driver sets must be submitted to Microsoft for
their "signing" (official acknowledgement that the driver does indeed operate satisfactorily) in order to be
used by newer Microsoft OSes. Unfortunately this means that hardware vendors don't tend to revisit their
previous designs to update them, opting to develop new products instead. There is absolutely nothing wrong
with such a process, except that the resulting products tend to have increasingly Windows-dependant features
that may or may not be suitable to UNIX/Linux or other OSes. By following a Microsoft server purchasing plan,
IT leaders are in fact locking themselves into a very limited, ever changing environment for hardware
Linux and x86-based UNIX versions have typically had less support for brand new hardware interfaces in
comparison to Microsoft OSes, since manufacturers have almost always written driver sets for the dominant
Microsoft operating systems before all others. However, UNIX/Linux offers performance and capabilities today,
on present hardware, that Microsoft only attempts to achieve on the newer, more expensive equipment. Also, it
should be noted that the x86-based hardware industry, as exemplified by such companies as Creative Labs,
Adaptec, 3Com, and many others, has rapidly moved to provide Linux support for their newest products over the
past few years. For most of these hardware companies, Linux support for past and present products is now a
given. OEM manufacturers like IBM, HP, and Dell now give equal standing to hardware development for Linux as
Organizations operating Windows NT on Compaq (nee DEC) Alpha servers and workstations were startled to find
that Compaq and Microsoft abruptly discontinued development of Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 on that platform.
When displaying the "scalability" of Windows NT 4.0 over several CPUs, Microsoft always touted its Alpha
version. There was no public debate or discourse on this issue. The decision was taken, and customers were
locked out due to their "lock in". Thankfully Alpha owners found that a version of Linux for Alpha is fully
functional on those same machines. Of course, the conversion to Compaq's own True64 UNIX was also an
attractive option. Nevertheless, the dangers of hardware "lock in" were amply illustrated.
Subsequently, for the near future, Microsoft Windows OSes operate only on the Intel x86 platform. The
Alpha hardware scenario was typical of the power Microsoft brings to bear upon IT organizations. Given the
merger of HP and Compaq in early 2002, with the resultant narrowing of the x86 server hardware vendor field
to basically three major entities (the others being Dell and IBM), it serves to illustrate that IT leaders
who wish to maintain their own discretion over software and hardware choice should steer clear of the "lock
in" nature of a Microsoft-only environment.
While Microsoft Windows NT, 2000, and XP therefore operate only on x86
(Intel & clone) architecture, Linux is available at no cost for x86 but also for
Sparc, UltraSparc, PowerPC, Alpha, iMac, PA-RISC, and several other hardware platforms. The
look and feel of Linux running on such disparate architectures is
uncannily similar regardless of hardware platform. For cross-platform
organizations, Linux is a veritable boon.
IBM has ported (adapted) Linux to its most powerful class
of mainframe computers, allowing Linux to operate in configurations of
either side-by-side (scores of Linux OSes running simultaneously on
same physical machine) or virtual (the Linux OS running in a
memory-based "virtual machine" while supported by another OS).
IBM has converted their line of "big iron" (the z series mainframes, i series
workplace servers, and p series AIX-type) to operate 64-bit Red Hat and SUSE Linux.
In late 2001 this scenario of Linux on the IBM mainframe was
embraced by Finnish telecommunications company Sonera, which provides high-speed
Internet access for 500,000 private and 70,000 corporate subscribers. Using a single IBM
mainframe, Sonera was able to replace 60 different Unix and Windows NT servers. Key to the success
is the running of the mainframe with 500 virtual servers running Linux software installed by Red
Hat and SuSE. This example is not unique, as IBM has won over an ever increasing list of other big
corporate players to Linux on Mainframe. In each case, most or all of their Windows servers were replaced or
IBM is not alone in their elevation of Linux to the top levels of corporate computing. The Intel and
Hewlett Packard corporations made Linux one of the primary operating systems available on the
Itanium 64-bit CPU chip. HP is touting its own special high-security version of Linux on that
processor. Contributing their resources to the general Linux-Itanium effort were such
organizations as Caldera, CERN, IBM, Red Hat, SGI, SuSE, TurboLinux and VA Linux Systems. As well, IBM,
Hewlett Packard, and SGI offer software development packages for Linux on Itanium, and compatible
versions of the GNU "GCC" compiler and "binutils" packages are being prepared. To that end, Intel, IBM,
HP, Red Hat and SGI gathered at a summit meeting in June of 2001 to work on improving GCC for Itanium.
It is most significant that since Itanium is not an extension to the 32-bit x86 platform and is not
based on RISC technology (as 1990's-era UNIX hardware typically was) a new synthesis of expertise in
the Itanium's new EPIC processor architecture included the Open Source community so fundamentally.
On the immediate horizon is AMD's upcoming 64-bit Opteron (nee Hammer) CPU, which differs from the
Itanium's EPIC approach by making extensions to the existing 32-bit x86 platform. This will require a
recoding of OS software specifically for that new platform - something at which Linux excels. Microsoft
spokespersons indicate that their focus is on Itanium for 64-bit and that offering Windows OSes on Opteron is
thus not as great a priority. As with Itanium, Linux will be one of the first OSes to operate on Opteron.
Further, Sun Microsystems is apparently moving to offer either AMD or Intel CPUs in a new range of one and
two processor small servers to be run on Sun's own upcoming Linux distribution.
Since Linux has already been running in 64-bit versions for years, essentially all of its applications
have been or will be made available on the Itanium and Opteron architectures fairly rapidly. Microsoft
released its first ever 64-bit OS, an Itanium-based version of Windows 2000 called "Advanced Server Limited
Edition" in July of 2002 to almost no fanfare, since fewer than five applications (their own products:
Exchange, IIS, SQL Server, etc.) have been signed by Microsoft as compliant. Opteron-based versions are
apparently being considered. With the litany of security issues those Microsoft applications have shown,
this is not promising.
In almost all instances, except at additional licensing and purchase price, it is not possible to
telnet (connect from a remote machine through a platform-independent interface to perform local
an NT Server or Workstation. Such remote administration is routine in UNIX/Linux, meaning that such
servers often are run headless (without a monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.) and without a GUI
(Graphical User Interface) so that maximum energy can be devoted to its specified tasks at hand. Windows 2000
and XP have ironically addressed the telnet issue (to some extent) just at the time that the majority
of UNIX/Linux administrators have embraced the vastly more secure SSH shell.
Troublingly, Microsoft has never addressed the issue that Windows Servers cannot be operated headless.
Those OSes require direct human contact and must always have a monitor and keyboard attached to them in order
to be administered. Microsoft's only solution is their additional-cost Windows Terminal Server software,
requiring an additional machine as well. So, to arrive at somewhat UNIX/Linux-like functionality, extra
hardware, software, and license(s) must be purchased.
As well, Windows OSes must constantly devote energy and memory space to keeping their GUIs operating. Owing
perhaps to their background as a marketing company concerned with end user response to their GUI, Microsoft
seems to have gaily insured in Windows NT, 2000, and most especially in XP that a colorful and musically
attractive workplace is available.
A UNIX/Linux server requires only a network or serial port connection and no GUI for its functionality.
Microsoft servers can indeed be connected at additional purchase and license cost to non-Microsoft hardware
devices that provide ostensibly headless operation, but the GUI problem cannot be circumvented.
The actual GUI system administration interfaces have been somewhat changed between Windows server versions,
yet still are not as affirmative or efficient as the administrative automation and hands-off capabilities
possible with UNIX/Linux command line usage and scripting, which are essential administration paradigms. On
the UNIX/Linux command line, capable administrators have online manual pages available as an immediate
resource for assistance (however cryptic they may seem to be) while in the Windows GUI-based world,
administrators are faced with immediate choices of options in each graphical interface, usually with little
or no information available for making an informed decision. Help files are available, but often are not
sufficiently robust for proper results. Some Windows administrators will opt (or have opted) for wrong or
inadequate choices in order to merely proceed. In this manner, proof is given that Windows GUI administration
is not "easier" than UNIX/Linux command line, as some erringly believe.
While the attractiveness of the graphical workspace to the workstation end user is of undoubted
consideration to some, it is generally not a desired quality when performance
calibration of a production server-class machine is undertaken. UNIX/Linux versions do
indeed allow fully capable GUI environments, but a wise system administrator appreciates
the freedom to eschew such performance-draining environments and opts for the powerful UNIX/Linux
command line environment. Divorcing Windows NT from its GUI environment is a task beyond most
Microsoft-trained individuals, and is impossible in any newer Windows version.
UNIX/Linux administrators have long benefited from the highly robust and capable programming
environment found in the operating system itself. Shell scripting has afforded the
administrator the ability to greatly automate the processes of the system and its software
programs, while ensuring continuity of procedures, reliable disaster recovery, and ease of
remote administration. Microsoft administrators have had to make do with batch
files, which are comparatively primitive holdovers from Microsoft's earlier DOS days.
While some authors have undoubtedly
created very clever solutions in that environment, the DOS batch file is thoroughly
outperformed by the UNIX/Linux shell script's capabilities. The highly proprietary, GUI-based administration
methodologies of Windows servers mean that they are unable to share the most routine automation
scripts and procedures in the way that all UNIX and Linux versions do. After all, how can mouse clicks in a
GUI environment be scripted in an easy to read, easy to edit text file that is portable to a floppy diskette
or an email? They cannot.
Windows XP is not POSIX compliant, meaning that it cannot achieve even basic similarity to the UNIX/Linux
shell or command line environment. The POSIX subsystem that had been available in Windows NT and 2000 was
removed from Windows XP and is now only available at additional cost for licenses.
Microsoft has embraced VBScript, an offshoot of Netscape Corporation's
scripting. However, VBScript has proven to be a source of major security concerns, since its
inherent security posture is "permissiveness", which is to say that
most or all routines are considered "trusted" unless otherwise
configured. This is a complete reversal of the UNIX/Linux security
paradigm, in which the default posture is "denial" until
reconfigured as required. The upshot of
Microsoft VBScript's weak security model is the apparent ease with which malevolent code can damage
Microsoft operating system resources, as seen in a litany of world-wide virus assaults.
Almost any custom system administration routines developed for operating a UNIX machine can be
readily run on a Linux machine with minor adaptation. These routines will not work on the
Microsoft platforms. Thus, mixed operating system environments continue to require
administrators to create a set of universal "scripts" and a second set of
"Microsoft-only" DOS batch files and/or VBScript-based procedures. As an
industry paradigm or in regards to its efficacy in this role, VBScript has not fit
the bill, and adoption has been very low.
For wise administrators of mixed IT shops, Open Source software has greatly helped to bridge the gap.
Perhaps the most suitable and popular multi-platform system administration language is Perl, the
"Practical Extraction and Report Language" devised by Larry Wall and offered at no cost. Perl is no
newcomer; it has been available for many years in UNIX and Linux OSes, and has been made portable to
the Windows platform. Indeed, Microsoft themselves contributed greatly to Active State's porting of Perl to
Windows. It would be difficult to find a computer language that has been made as
extensible, flexible, and secure as Perl. Inevitably the popularity of Perl seeped into the Windows
world, and so a great deal of cross-platform administration has been made possible based on the Open
Source contributions of many people over the years. Compared to Perl, VBScript is seen as a poor
The great amount of non-Microsoft security software and factory security patches for Microsoft OSes
offers witness to the fundamental weakness of Microsoft Windows OSes in comparison to
UNIX/Linux OSes. Such third-party anti-virus and security remedies are simply
not needed on UNIX/Linux. To be fair, all operating systems can be vulnerable to malicious exploits,
but it is a matter of wide degrees between UNIX/Linux and the Microsoft operating systems.
Windows NT and 2000 are vulnerable to over sixty-five thousand known computer viruses (when I first authored
this white paper in 1999 that amount was about forty thousand) while the number which affect UNIX/Linux can
be counted on one hand and can only take hold of a system if the root user is operating that machine
directly via a root login (a preposterous step on an active server, so almost unheard of). XP is
to the exact same viruses as its Microsoft predecessors, indicating that Microsoft clearly refuses to
"harden" their newer Windows operating systems.
In 1999 alone, the Chernobyl, Melissa, and Worm viruses caused untold
damage to Microsoft computers worldwide due to the security vulnerabilities of
Microsoft software on Microsoft operating systems. Again in 2000, the "I
Love You" virus tore through Microsoft machines causing multiple millions
of dollars of damage in lost data and productivity. As in 1999, UNIX and Linux
machines were only indirectly affected, not because of any direct attack
upon them from those viruses (there was none) but because UNIX/Linux machines are routinely
used as servers to transport the very viruses and worms that are so lethal to Microsoft products.
The July, 2001 onset of the "Code Red" and "SirCam" worm exploits and the September, 2001 assault
the "NIMDA" worm (estimated by computer security experts to have cost companies in the United States
alone about $2 billion) once again demonstrated the inferior security of the Microsoft
Windows NT and 2000 operating systems, as well as the Microsoft IIS server
software package. Once again, UNIX and Linux prevailed with no direct
negative effects. As linked below, the respected Gartner Group advocated the quick
abandonment of Microsoft server products. Further, web server software manufacturer
discovered that IBM has implemented corporate policies that forbid Microsoft IIS servers on their
Internet-facing Web sites. Some were nevertheless erroneously installed, and those
IIS-based sites have already been hacked and defaced multiple times in 2001. Microsoft themselves admitted
that one of their own servers had been infected with Code Red worm exploits three times during its
first configuration on the Internet.
Particularly blameworthy software from Microsoft includes its line of Exchange messaging servers
(predominantly for email), IIS web server, and Outlook desktop email client (all three have been
particularly cited for
their security vulnerabilities, but most especially the IIS product). UNIX/Linux alternatives to
those Microsoft products include
iPlanet and Lotus Notes for messaging and web serving, as well as such Open Source options as the
venerable, constantly improving Sendmail and Qmail email server applications and the popular
Apache web server.
A comment circulated throughout the IT-related media (print, web, etc.) attempts to suggest that
the quantity of security exploits in Microsoft software can be explained away as a direct result of
its popularity. This theory holds that as a given piece of software grows in adoption and common
usage, so does the amount of illicit programming aimed against it. Since a sober review of security
issues posted at such web sites as CERT displays no such pattern, this argument is to be
ignored. Perhaps the simplest proof against it is in
the arena of web server software, in which the Open Source Apache web server holds a 3-to-1
lead in usage over Microsoft's IIS server, yet the Microsoft product's rate and depth of predation
(due to its improper security stance) dwarfs the relatively obscure Apache exploits, which
have been quickly corrected in newer versions. Are there malicious programs that affect UNIX/Linux? Of
course, but defending against them is routine, not difficult, and not costly.
Regarding the above-mentioned Microsoft Datacenter high availability clustering system, local
administrators have no recourse to security patches and Hotfixes in the event of a crisis, since
Datacenter software is available only from the vendor and not changeable by the customer. In
the case of the Code Red and Nimda worms, local administrators found their hands tied, and these
mission critical installations were vulnerable for days, especially since most Datacenter systems
use the insecure Microsoft IIS web server (that Nimda specifically attacked) to provide Terminal
Server capabilities. The result is that a very expensive, mission critical Datacenter environment
could sit idly for days as a solution is found. UNIX/Linux high availability environments are not
susceptible to such attacks.
Significant expense is incurred by Microsoft Windows workstation and server administrators in protecting
and sterilizing their machines from attack. Presumably Microsoft is concerned that the end-user
"experience" will be somehow lessened by a proper security stance. This could be seen as a deliberate
passing of the security buck to local IT groups, meaning higher costs for software and labor to support
Microsoft's low-security products. In fact, as of late 2002 Microsoft has taken to publicly floating the
idea of charging their customers for security upgrades, adding to their already high TCO.
All a potential purchaser can do is either accept the security risk of using Microsoft OSes
their release or wait for Microsoft's patches and Hotfixes to eventually elevate the OS to an
acceptably secure level. As mentioned above, Microsoft has historically replaced its OSes before
they could achieve such a footing. Additionally, IT leaders must not forget that there is the
additional cost of non-Microsoft security software such as that from Symantec, Macafee, and Sygate,
among others, to be factored into budgets.
Microsoft claims that Windows XP is its most secure operating system ever. On installation or
first-time use, all XP computers must be registered as part of Microsoft's "Product Activation"
requirement. Since the OS installed from CD is out of date before ever having been run (a problem faced
by all commercial OSes) a network or modem connection is mandatory for the OS to be "properly"
activated, using Microsoft's "Automatic Update" feature. In December of 2001, shortly after its
release, Microsoft Windows XP was found to exhibit what can objectively be described as a gaping
security hole: the default activation of Microsoft's "Universal Plug 'n Play" technology, which
distant computers to connect directly to the local machine at system-level, bypassing any notion of
authentication of the remote entity. Essentially, the unpatched machine is wide open to the most lethal
Given that XP computers must "phone home" before they can be properly configured (or patched), this
hole effectively leaves XP computers wide open to attack during that early phase of use, meaning that
all new installations of XP have a period of severe vulnerability that cannot be prevented. The
problem is so intrinsic to the Microsoft Windows XP OS that only a redesign of XP will cure it.
Microsoft executives have faced questioning by the FBI regarding this matter, and Windows XP has been
elevated to the top of the United States government's National Infrastructure Protection Center list of
most serious national security issues. By the middle of January, it has become clear that the patches
Microsoft has released to address the Universal Plug 'n Play hole and other issues have caused serious
troubles of their own. IT professionals have reported that a barrage of Automatic Updates from
Microsoft have rendered many key XP installations and peripheral devices unusable or unusable. To their
credit, Microsoft is struggling to address security and performance issues with alacrity. To their
discredit, Microsoft refuses to provide documentation or even indication of the contents of patches to
IT professionals, making debugging and error correction of Automatic Update troubles almost impossible.
Microsoft has added a new wrinkle to the "phone home" nature of their Windows XP OS with the
release of its Product Use Rights (PUR) volume license agreement (published on
Microsoft's web site and often altered without fanfare or due customer notice). In the section on
Windows XP Professional, the "Internet-Based Services Components" section reads, in part: "You
acknowledge and agree that Microsoft may automatically check the version of the Product and/or its
components that you are utilizing and may provide upgrades or fixes to the Product that will be
automatically downloaded to your Workstation Computer." Taken at its word, Microsoft has thus been
given carte blanche to access Windows XP computers anywhere at any time. As "owner" of the machine(s)
in question, the local IT organization therefore has had any options to prevent such access completely
removed, and in fact has been placed into an extremely awkward position of having no control over
privacy and security of XP computers. Implicit is that all XP computers must be accessible to Microsoft
by network at all times in order to receive Automatic Update transactions. Advice: before ever
committing to using XP, have your corporate legal personnel review the question of whether the
disabling of Automatic Update would therefore void this Microsoft "agreement". History reminds us that
voiding Microsoft user agreements can be a messy, unfortunate affair.
On January 15, 2002, Microsoft head Bill Gates dispatched an extraordinary email titled "Trustworthy
computing" to world wide Microsoft staff, but which was distributed copiously in press kits
throughout the news media. In his missive, Gates implores his workers to elevate the notion of
security to the "highest priority", becoming "more important" than any other part of the
company's work. With unfortunate misdirection, Gates opines that this new security consciousness at
Microsoft resulted in the wake of the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York City.
This is transparently crass and misleading, as criticism of Microsoft's poor security efforts date back
to the 1980s. Many in the IT industry infer that the Gates letter is an admission that security has
never before had a high profile at Microsoft. The inevitable question is to what extent such a
necessary mindset can be inculcated into the previously non-chalant ways of that organization. Further,
this sea change in corporate focus must be done with haste, in the face of the ambitious,
ill-conceived .NET strategy. Expediency before efficacy will be disastrous.
It is difficult to trust Microsoft's new found security consciousness when even they do not use their
own security products. SQL Labs, Microsoft's development group for SQL Server, has opted to forego the use of
Microsoft's ISA (Internet Security and Acceleration) Server, which Redmond's marketers say defends networks
against worms and viruses like Code Red, Nimda, and others. NetScreen's 500-series security appliance was
given the task, even though Microsoft's web site continues to give reasons why ISA is best.
As mentioned previously, the default
security stance of Microsoft products is almost always "permissiveness", which is a potentially
disastrous posture in today's computing environment. The UNIX/Linux
approach, with its "locked down" default security stance,
means that exploits are rare.
Regarding proprietary UNIX hardware platforms such as IBM's RS6000,
HP's 9000, SGI's MIPS, Sun's Ultras, and the previously mentioned Compaq Alphas, it is clear that
highly tuned their 32-bit and 64-bit
operating systems to take maximum advantage of the underlying
multi-processor hardware. All of these systems are "scalable", meaning
that hardware additions and network adjustments can be made to significantly
improve the abilities of the system.
These mainstream UNIX OSes support multiple mainboards, so that the system can cumulatively
two to over a hundred processors, with technical breakthroughs
occurring regularly to up those numbers. "High Availability" installations
boast of almost 100% reliability, with built-in "failover" protection to
prevent down time.
Microsoft's 32-bit Windows NT and 2000 operating systems can operate only on
certain, and few, x86-based multi-processor systems that are only
capable as the mainstream UNIX-vendor hardware varieties. The Microsoft-based systems are easily
taxed by only
a small number of concurrent kernel processes, and their scalability, in
comparison to UNIX, is minor. For these reasons, Microsoft Windows OSes simply are nowhere to be seen
in the Supercomputer and High Performance Computing classes of server. A small team of OS developers within
Microsoft are rumoured to be working on a Supercomputing version of Windows, but no evidence of their
existence is to be found.
In semi-annual surveys of the top 500 fastest computers in the
world, UNIX operating systems routinely appear on almost all. Tellingly,
Linux configurations have been increasingly seen, even reaching the
44th position in one of the 1998 surveys and the 35th position in the most recent. No Microsoft
operating system has ever appeared on the survey. This vacuum of
Microsoft presence at the highest levels of computing is most informative.
For many years, cinematography's animators and graphical renderers have known that only UNIX/Linux fits the bill
for such computationally intense offerings as "Monsters, Inc." and "Toy Story". Microsoft products are
falling from use. UNIX vendor SGI (Silicon Graphics) is renowned in the graphical arts community for the
scalability of their
"compute farms" used in movie animation rendering. Under the leadership of Rick Belluzzo, SGI
a great deal of money and energy to offer a Microsoft Windows NT-based workstation for high performance
graphics use of the kind required by the CAD/CAM, television, and motion picture industries. After
continual disappointment with instability and poor performance, the now-financially crippled SGI abandoned
Microsoft Windows NT. Belluzzo soon left SGI for an executive position at Microsoft in an unrelated field
responsibility, while SGI returned to their highly touted IRIX version of UNIX, also offering Linux with
full support. As a result, movie animation houses have gone overwhelmingly to IRIX/Linux combinations and
abandoned any Microsoft Windows products.
Moviegoers who have seen the animated Hollywood film "Shreck" or the block buster feature film
"Titanic" may be surprised to learn that the animated sequences were created entirely on high
performance UNIX/Linux-based graphical rendering stations. The computerized animation in the popular
2001-02 film "Lord of the Rings" was rendered on UNIX servers and workstations running IRIX with Linux
machines as the rendering compute farm.
The world's largest financial and brokering firms, such as Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Group Inc.,
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., and ETrade Group Inc. deploy Linux
systems for data analysis and high performance computing, as well as for traditional file and print
serving and in trading applications.
The 32-bit Linux operating system, in its current state, has a scalability range that supercedes that of
Microsoft Windows server OSes, and overlaps with lower range 32-bit UNIX installations. The 64-bit Linux
operating system (for Compaq Alpha and Sun UltraSparc) continues to improve its scalability and challenge
mainstream 64-bit UNIX versions, and the aforementioned 64-bit Itanium and Opteron versions of Linux are
taking their place as an equal to UNIX versions on those platforms.
Perceptions and "Mindshare"
The perception of the Linux operating system is that it is a viable, powerful, markedly inexpensive option
for extricating a computer system from Microsoft Windows NT, 2000, and XP. Further, it is an equally
attractive and very compelling alternative to purchasing Windows .NET Server.
Looking further beyond the migration, future plans and purchases could be based on Linux, but more
importantly the expertise accumulated by system administration staff on Linux during the Windows recovery
phase could possibly make transitioning to a fully featured major UNIX version appealing as
an alternative. Interestingly, such a transition may be aided by the fact that development versions
of upcoming mainstream UNIX types, such as Solaris 9 and HP-UX, show that the proper release
versions will offer complete Linux APIs (application support and compliance interfaces). For
example, moving applications from smaller Linux machines to larger UNIX machines will be
somewhat effortless if they are not specifically tuned to a particular hardware environment (as few
As a bulwark against typically massive and saturating Microsoft marketing campaigns, the web
sites of the major UNIX vendors stand on their own for information about
their specific UNIX and Linux offerings. Since Linux is Open Source software, it's lack of central
authority or "ownership" seems to be preventing Microsoft from effectively countering its rise in
popularity and acceptance.
Indeed, the word-of-mouth popularity of Linux is unprecedented in the computer
world. Specifically in relation to Microsoft, a major element of the Linux phenomena is that it has
fostered a grass roots repudiation of "lock in" to the Microsoft agenda, with the above mentioned
harsh effects upon IT budgets.
The industry's largest computer software and hardware corporations now routinely offer 24 hour
support for Linux on their specific platforms after purchase, while Linux is taking its place in
computer education centers worldwide. An increasing number of academic institutions throughout the
world utilize the Linux kernel for Computer Science degree study, guaranteeing that the next wave of
software and hardware experts will be intimately familiar with Linux. Training vendors now routinely
offer Linux familiarization and System Administration courses. Of major computer corporations, only
Microsoft seems to be avoiding Linux.
Software Issues and Compatibility
Does Linux's non-centralized origin and "Open Source" development process make it in any way less credible or
"safe" a choice than UNIX or Microsoft Windows NT, 2000, and XP? Clearly not, judging by the huge corporate
embrace of Linux. The list of major computer corporations actively supporting Linux continues to grow at a
steep climb. Included are such companies as IBM, Oracle, Hitachi, Dell, SGI, Mitsubishi,
Sybase, Sony, AOL/Time Warner, Novell, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Fujitsu, Sun Microsystems, Informix,
Adaptec, NEC, and many more.
Based on this list of corporate luminaries, fears that major non-Microsoft software
packages available for Windows NT and 2000 would not be available on Linux are proving to
be mostly unwarranted as new product versions are released. The quantity of
commercial and freeware software solutions for Linux continues to grow. Similarly, organizations
that abandoned UNIX varieties of software for NT will find the return to UNIX/Linux increasingly
easier as a
growing number of consultants offer migration services.
An added benefit of Linux's Open Source community of developers is that
significant improvements, patches, fixes, upgrades, and new versions
become available for usage (and individual modification) at a rate that
makes Microsoft appear to be motionless. To discount or misunderstand the merits of such "peer
review" of the Linux code base is to dispute the validity of academic inquiry and the scientific
method, as practiced for centuries. Peer review of Linux and Open Source code in public is what
guarantees its best qualities. Conversely, closed source code requires placing an inordinate trust
in its vendor.
Open Source code is freely
available, and can be readily inspected prior to installation. By
compiling such code locally, the program is optimized completely for
the local machine. This is not so with Microsoft pre-packaged
binary files, which are compiled distantly to generic PC specifications.
The performance implications of this software difference can be significant. Since inspecting the
contents of a canned Microsoft
binary is impossible, a system administrator must accept that what is inside is
beneficial. It has been demonstrated that what lurks inside Microsoft binaries often
Microsoft-produced binary files are known to often contain "easter eggs",
which are internal sequences of code that are not central to the purpose
of the original file. The best known of these is the flight simulator
found in Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet program. Such Microsoft-distributed software is
known derisively in the computer industry as "bloatware". There is no justification for wasting
computer energy on such non-essential software, however entertaining some end users may find it to
Windows 2000's installation software is approximately five times as large as that for Windows NT 4.
The code itself contains almost double the lines (complexity) as NT 4.0 version, which is itself
overly complex for its designated tasks (see GUI and "headless" problems above). As with previous
OS versions, Microsoft continues its practice of not publishing critical APIs (critical
interfaces used by software makers) for Windows XP, effectively disadvantaging the offerings of
any company but their own. In fact, Microsoft is tying so many additional applications into XP
that the complexity of the code now overwhelms comparison with NT. An old adage states that "the
fewer the moving parts, the less there is to go wrong." Microsoft evidently feels that IT personnel
have nothing to fear from XP's mushrooming code size and complexity.
In contrast, Linux code is continually tuned and optimized by a
public community of highly skilled developers from around the world. Their only
agenda is to implement better functionality. There are no secrets to the
code, no hidden APIs, no "easter eggs". In almost any comparable situation, Linux code is
smaller than that of other OSes. Thus, it is very fast, easy to optimize
for local needs, and free of junk. As traditional UNIX vendors embrace Linux, they are
helping the Open Source GCC compiler team to ensure that local GCC-created binaries can
achieve similar efficiency on their hardware as from their own proprietary compilers. As mentioned
previously, the mainstream UNIX versions are highly tuned and calibrated by their manufacturers to
suit their appropriate hardware.
UNIX/Linux program setup files, often called "binaries", are markedly smaller than Microsoft
ones, since they rely on previously installed operating system libraries. Libraries
provide centralized information and code routines to all programs, allowing programmers to
concentrate on the merits and performance of their own code while simply invoking
tried-and-true library routines as needed.
The Windows NT, 2000, and XP operating systems provide sparse library support. Microsoft
programs must therefore install a selection of ".DLL" (Dynamic Link Library) files that
their needed libraries. These .DLL file installations often overwrite critical, previously
installed versions of the same file. A result is that de-installation of software from a
Windows machine can cause the undesired deletion of critical files, accompanied by
the loss of functionality of unrelated software, or even the operating system itself.
Sometimes a complete re-installation of the operating system is required.
A common Windows de-installation message warns the administrator of potential
problems about multi-use files, yet does not provide any detailed information on the
danger at hand. In the face of this, a typical administrator will opt to leave the
"conflicting" files on the machine rather than risk the consequences of their removal. Thus,
the Windows file system continues to accumulate more and more files that have
no present use, taking up space that could be better used for data. Microsoft themselves have
referred to their ongoing library problems as ".DLL Hell".
Microsoft's solution to ".DLL Hell" was to borrow a common UNIX/Linux strategy for Windows 2000 and
XP in which replaced files are held in storage so that a rollback to a previous configuration can be
achieved if the newer addition causes problems. Given the less stable kernel of Windows OSes, this
strategy is proving not to be as recoverable as on UNIX/Linux in real time. The effort by
Microsoft in this area was nonetheless urgently required and generally appreciated.
The UNIX/Linux programming paradigm does not allow for such de-installation difficulties.
Programs are purposely installed into disk or file system areas that are safely removed
from the critical operating system binaries and libraries put in place at OS installation
time. Programs only make library "calls" and do not typically install their own.
Also, since UNIX/Linux versions keep their configuration files in the /etc directory and
allow tight access to those files, frequent tuning, cleanup, and backup of those files is simple and
easy to automate in real time. What's more, these files are easily adapted to other similar machines, so
of configuration attributes across an IT environment is quite easy. The Windows OSes instead rely on
a single binary file called the "registry" to define the majority of the machine's
configuration attributes. A registry file is not transferable to another machine. Registry contents
are notoriously messy after several software changes, and inefficiencies eventually abound.
Such companies as Symantec sell products that improve the efficiency and tidiness of registry files,
begging the question as to why Microsoft themselves sell such a maintenance-dependent system that
requires additional non-Microsoft software and licenses for its best performance.
"Bang" for the Buck
Mainstream UNIX versions, and Microsoft Windows NT, 2000, and especially XP, follow the procedure
of bundling only select software options as part of the initial
operating system purchase. Only superficially is there a clear
comparison between Microsoft and UNIX OSes, because the quantity of basic capabilities available in
any generic UNIX supercedes that of NT, 2000, and XP.
While the quantity of installation software and lines of code surged in
Microsoft Windows 2000 from NT, it was still lacking in basic server functionality
in comparison with UNIX/Linux. XP will similarly not address many of these basic server functions
without additional cost.
Training costs for Microsoft-certified IT staff continue to be proportionally much higher
than for UNIX/Linux. Typically an MCSE candidate will face as many as 12 courses (before taking
exams) to achieve certification. UNIX/Linux candidates can achieve major vendor certification in
less than 4 courses typically before taking exams, owing to the innate learnability and sensibility
of UNIX/Linux. Some people suggest that UNIX/Linux is cryptic and difficult to learn. To the many
who have easily learned it, especially in today's rapidly growing Linux user population, this
ill-informed sentiment is amusing.
In the area of bundled (available as part of the operating system
installation) software, Linux is the absolute champion, no questions
asked. For example, a full installation of Mandrake Linux 9.x can install over 1.5 gigabytes of
world-class software free of charge. This software bundle ranges in
functionality from advanced Internet servers (Apache Web Server, INN News
Server, Sendmail, etc.) to print services, to remote network management,
to database support, to fully featured office productivity suites, and more.
As of late 2002, the computer industry media have caught on in a big way to an increasing number of
independent studies showing that the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of Linux is not just lower than than
that of Microsoft Windows, but in fact widely so. As Microsoft executives now clearly acknowledge, there
is no better price point than free, and as IT leaders now have seen in their own environments,
there is no better ratio of administrators-to-computer than with Linux. In this same TCO area, UNIX has
taken a particular beating, owing to the inherently costly nature of proprietary hardware solutions. Taken
in context with an organization's desire for uptime, capability, power, and flexibility, UNIX solutions
are still popular and "worth it" in overall IT budgets, but the gap between these and Linux solutions
is rapidly narrowing.
On the Desktop
Microsoft products, such as Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, and XP, are entrenched as the most
implemented workstation environment throughout the corporate computing world. A wholesale takeover
of such desktop environments from the Microsoft products by any competitor is likely not imminent,
despite great strides in the quality of such Open Source desktop products as KDE and
Gnome for UNIX/Linux. Historically, the rise of Windows products at the expense of UNIX can be
seen in the wide cost differential between the low-tech Intel x86-based PCs (both IBM and clone) and
the proprietary, leading edge UNIX workstations. Additionally, Windows-platform-exclusive availability
of office-related application software such as Microsoft Office cemented the use of the
PC-based desktop, and Microsoft routinely changed (and changes) file formats of
their applications to thwart compatibility with competitors' products, effectively locking IT
organizations into a software and license upgrading cycle. For a variety of reasons well outside the
scope of this white paper, Apple's Macintosh did not succeed in countering the PC desktop wave with
the notable exception of having conquered the graphical design and musical industries.
The venerable CDE (Common Desktop Environment) used by Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, SCO, and True64 was
intended to provide a uniform user interface that would allow ease of application programming across those
UNIX versions. Until now, the traditional desktop alternative of the UNIX world has not been embraced in the
IT field even after many years of use. Differentiation ensued among CDE vendors, with unfortunate
consequences to organizations that operated a mix of UNIX versions on their workstations. Further, as
no UNIX-based alternative to Microsoft's Office application products was able to surmount the file
format difficulties to become truly competitive, the UNIX desktop was not typically considered an
option to Microsoft Windows.
While CDE has a rather limited future, almost all of its vendors have announced that their updated UNIX
versions will offer one (or both) of the KDE and Gnome desktops to match all leading Linux distributions.
Today, since the KDE and Gnome products constantly improve, and most especially as customers are introduced
to the stunning GUI environment of Apple's OS X, viable UNIX/Linux-based alternatives to the Microsoft
Windows desktop environment are increasingly credible. KDE, in particular, evolves steadily, and its upcoming
3.1 version is quite comparable to OS X's GUI.
Microsoft license and software fee implications for freedom of choice, Microsoft's greatest sore point
in the IT desktop environment owes to the productivity losses accumulated from lost time and lost
files as a result of Windows OS instability. A reboot can be a costly affair, either at that particular
moment or when pro-rated with all others over time. KDE and Gnome, operating on Linux-based PC
workstations, are fast, inexpensive, stable, and secure. UNIX
workstations on proprietary hardware, such as Sun's SunBlade models or HP's B, C, or
J-class models, offer increasingly competitive pricing to x86-based PCs running Microsoft operating
systems, while providing superior OS stability. Such machines excel at their traditional role, usually
for design and CAD/CAM use. Apple's OS X machines are very stable and fast, while offering an eye-popping
In the area of software applications for UNIX/Linux that are competitive with Windows-based
Sun's free-of-charge and ever-improving StarOffice suite (based on an Open
Source platform called OpenOffice and built for UNIX/Linux and Windows OSes) is proving to be an
acceptable package for organizations wishing to leave the Microsoft Office platform. Another
product, Corel's WordPerfect Office Suite for Linux, contains functionality on a par with (or superior
to) Microsoft's own Office Suite (of which no Linux-compatible version exists or is foreseen to be
developed). Unfortunately, Corel discontinued development of this competitive product at the time
of receiving a financial bail out of approximately $135 million from Microsoft. After this event, Corel
has turned instead to producing products for Microsoft's .NET environment and Apple's OS X.
Given the historic popularity of the Macintosh OS among people within the graphical arts and musical
communities, it is a cinch that as the leading software applications of those industries are ported
over to Apple OS X, these highly creative people will follow to the new UNIX-based platform.
Clarifying Your Decision To Migrate
Be alert to the realization that only Microsoft, among all major
computer corporations, is avoiding a commitment to Linux. Rather, their marketing teams are now engaged
in attacking it.
Choose carefully whether to accept Microsoft's advertisements and information. Bear in
mind that Microsoft chooses UNIX to handle the huge Internet loads upon their largest
Almost 95% of the servers at Microsoft Hotmail run Apache web
servers on FreeBSD UNIX, according to Netcraft, while MSN runs on Solaris and Microsoft
LinkExchange runs entirely on Apache/FreeBSD. Microsoft themselves appear to understand that it is
not worthwhile to run their very own operating systems or web server software, after
spending almost four years on the task of shifting to Windows NT (then 2000) and fifteen
months after the first load balancing machines began to be shifted from
FreeBSD. As the web site The Register has noted, more of Microsoft's
FreeBSD servers just seem to pop up again and again. When confronted with public whimsey at evidence of
their UNIX and Open Source software usage, Microsoft installed "interceptor"
servers that prevent identification of these non-Microsoft machines from being
displayed, as in the redirect of queries of LinkExchange servers to Microsoft's BCentral
site. In February of 2002, IT industry watchers were amused to find that a web site run by Microsoft and
Unisys to tout the "benefits" of Windows OSes over UNIX was, in fact, being operated on a UNIX server. It
should also be noted that such Windows "booster" sites as Windows eXchange, WinOSCentral, and most PC
hardware sites use the Open Source Apache web server on Linux or *BSD UNIX rather than Microsoft products.
Perhaps a new Microsoft advertising slogan is in order: "At Microsoft, We Don't
Use NT, 2000, or even XP. Why Should You?"
Summary and Conclusion
It is in every IT leader's interest to install the "most capable at least expense" computer operating
system. With the Linux operating system available free of charge as a complete, almost one-for-one
replacement for Microsoft Windows in most routine server tasks, an existing Microsoft-based system can be
readily converted with only incidental cost, but at great benefit in reduced TCO, license fees, and in no
future obligations to the Microsoft licence subscription service. Beyond monetary obligations, IT
organizations can now navigate towards maximum freedom in achieving their goals, perhaps for the first
time ever. Vendor-imposed limitations, expenses, and inadequacies can often be made a thing of the past by
employing Open Source software.
Now more than ever, in the heightened global security climate, rote acceptance and purchasing of
Microsoft products without proper, fair, objective research of Open Source, third party, and
UNIX/Linux alternatives is inexcusable, and may even be grounds for concerns of misconduct and
negligence, if not incompetence. It is an open, well documented fact that Microsoft products are
especially inadequate in the area of trusted computing environments.
For those organizations that invested (usually heavily) in the Microsoft Windows NT and 2000
operating systems, it should be unacceptible to continue justifying the large financial outlays
needed to correct the security and capability inferiorities of the Windows OSes and applications.
Herein lies the essential, "real world" superiority of the Linux operating system: a wide variety
of benefits, improvements, and new capabilities is available at little or no extra cost. Linux is
absolutely free of charge, with no licensing fees for any of its features, now or in
the future. As mentioned above, the TCO of Linux environments is vastly lower than that of Microsoft
In situations where Linux may not be an ideal replacement, UNIX may fit the bill. For tasks such as
high volume e-commerce or finance, there is no better solution than a migration to a mainstream UNIX
machine. Initial cost may seem high, but cost benefits related to
lesser system administration staff, fewer servers per assigned load, less electricity, and of course
processing capacity, may outweigh these
concerns. In many high-end areas, Linux is not yet a match for a high-end UNIX version, but this
gap continues to be erased rapidly.
As a critical mass of applications becomes available for Apple's OS X line of workstations, the IT world
will have to sit up and take strong notice of this stellar OS and its polished, friendly, and powerful
user environment. For the administrator, all essential UNIX command line and scripting capabilities are
present or easily added, and the end user experience is unparalleled by Windows XP.
Migration is change, and change is stressful to personnel if not managed well. Deft
navigation of available options is essential, and limited viewpoints can only result in limited
results. Given the availability of a wide range of proven, secure, and powerful UNIX/Linux
computing capabilities, today's IT leaders who made their careers primarily or only in the
Microsoft OS world must look past personally limiting viewpoints, eschew "desktop-centric"
mindsets, and ensure that technical merit prevails in decision-making.
Computer system administrators will be called upon to learn new OS techniques as part of the
migration, and this should not be problematic if the people are of good quality. Downsizing of
staff will almost certainly occur in the migration from Windows OSes to UNIX/Linux (as this is one
of the central benefits of migration to UNIX/Linux for an organization). IT leaders will
thus need to
be watchful for the truly knowledgeable and talented administrators in their midst who can thrive in
new environments. Even so, training will go a long way to smoothing the technical transition, while
a healthy component of good will is needed to suppress notions of elitism sometimes felt by
practitioners of the superior UNIX/Linux computing environment towards their Windows-only
colleagues. Such inter-personal concepts as "techno-elitism" are poison to efficacious migrations.
Not mentioned in this white paper so far is a tired, old pro-Microsoft argument that by using Open Source
products a user is left with no legal recourse should a flaw cause damage. To address this, one need only
look at the Microsoft EULA: "In no event shall Microsoft Corporation or its suppliers be liable for any
damages whatsoever including direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, loss of business profits or
special damages, even if Microsoft Corporation or its suppliers have been advised of the possibility of
such damages." Also not covered in this white paper is the penchant of Microsoft executives to have
compared Open Source software with cancer, Communism, intellectual property theft, and other such
For the reasons outlined in this white paper and supported by a
great deal of factual data readily accumulating on the World Wide Web and in corporate
computing environments, it is safe, sound, and productive to migrate
to UNIX/Linux and say "No Thank You" to Microsoft
Windows NT, 2000, and XP.
The opinions expressed in this white paper, unless expressly attributed
to another person or source, are my own and do not represent those of any organization to
which I am affiliated.
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I reserve the right to answer email inquiries at my leisure (of which I have
"UNIX" is a registered trademark of The Open Group.
"Linux" is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.
"Windows NT", "Windows 2000", and "Windows XP" are U.S. registered trademarks of Microsoft Corp.