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Debunking Linux myths December 20, 2005

Posted by rjdohnert in Software reviews.
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The Jem report has published an article on debunking common Linux myths. There are a couple here that I disagree with and I think need to be ‘debunked’

1. Is there SCO UNIX intellectual property in the Linux kernel?

I think there is. While Jem and many others are free to debate it and say Nope. They like me are just stating opinions. In the end it depends on how the jury finds, so I personally would wait on deploying Linux solutions until we have a ruling in this case. Until then If you need an Open Source UNIX for your datacenter Open Solaris and FreeBSD are both excellent choices. Both also offer indemnification, something the Linux community has yet to offer. Sure Novell and HP indemnify Linux but its limited to using patches packaged by both for example, if you recompile a newer kernel for your system and its not the default version shipped with your distribution your indemnification is null and void.

2. Does Windows really have a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than GNU/Linux?

I work with more UNIX and Windows than I do Linux bit I have found Linux to be higher in TCO in both managebility, support and maintenance. Also with Linux you are seemingly a constant beta tester. If you use a complex mix of devices it can also be a hassle hunting down and tracking down device drivers.

3. Open-source programs are less secure because hackers can see the code.

I dont claim yes or no. More open eyes on Source code can be a problem, also Jem implies problems are fixed much quicker. Not true, its been a week since the last Firefox exploit with code published and not a patch in sight. Also, no one actively looks for problems, problems and vulnerabilities in Linux go unknown and unpublished until someone finds the said vulnerability. Unlike with Windows, Mac and Solaris, Patches are issued sporatically.

4. Free software is Communism. Free software promotes a gift economy and is anti-capitalist. Free software will kill the software industry and hurt the economy.

There are different characteristics of Free software. You have freeware which is free as in price software. Then you have free software as in Open Source software. Freeware is written and distributed with few or little restrictions. Open Source software is distributed with no restrictions. The service and suypport business model has for the most part been a failure. With more companies like Sun, Novell and Red Hat charging a base price then selling a subscription fee. Personally I think this whole bookaka of Free and Open Source software reinvigorating the industry to be extremely flawed. If you develop software for free where is the payoff? How much money can you get for software or source code you give away for free. I dont care how many times you slice it, 0 is 0.

5. GNU/Linux is hard to use; Windows is easy to use.

Jem proclaims that Linux is just as easy as Windows. It takes much more work to get a system usable, to recognize all your hardware. Vista makes it much easier yet. It takes about 3 hours to get a Windows machine up, patched and ready to go. It takes 6 hours to get Linux patched, all devices working if they will all work and ready to go. It also takes much less time to get Windows repaired and its easier. For Linux you have to go into a command line and its much harder and awkward for people not used to the environment. Windows also has System Restore which despite many reports actuually works, with Linux the only option is to reimage or reinstall your machine.

Linux is good if you are used to that environment or like that approach. But if you are new to it, just realize there are hurdles to jump. Some of those hurdles may produce a solution early on, others may take awhile and may include a buttload of work.

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