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Linux Making Inroads, But Not At Windows' Expense 323

Posted by Hemos
from the looking-at-things-differently dept.
zaphod123 writes "According to this article, the stories about Amazon (and others) switching to Linux have been misrepresented. The Linux install has replaced a proprietary Unix system, not a Microsoft Windows product. This is still "A Good Thing" for Linux, but not the downfall of Microsoft that some have foreseen."
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Linux Making Inroads, But Not At Windows' Expense

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  • Try it on grandma. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OsamaBinLogin (522314) on Thursday November 01, 2001 @10:05PM (#2510510)
    >When asked whether the company would ever consider replacing its
    >Windows machines with Linux, Busch said absolutely not, noting
    >the lack of "robust office packages" on that platform.

    I often think that this excuse really is more like "we can't get naive users to use it without being crippled". Linux distros need to test their software on non-Unix people more. Humans. Typical office people who, if you ask them if they have a Mac or a Windows box, say, "Yeah, I think so".

    >And Busch threw another wrench into any mass Linux migration by
    >noting that the overall cost of Linux and Windows 2000 is almost
    >identical after you factor in support and maintenance.

    in other words, after you get done with the hassles of Linux, and the hassles of Win2k, the hassles of Linux are a little bit more. time=money, so the cost of that extra hassle is the same as the cost of Windows & its apps.

    So much for free-as-in-beer.

    This hassle is invisible to the Linux developers cuz they know how to fix or work around glitches when they arise. So it seems "easy to use" for them.

    Try it on grandma. then report back.

    • by einhverfr (238914) <chris@travers.gmail@com> on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:05PM (#2512632) Homepage Journal
      Hmmm....

      It is true that the majority of Linux wins are at the expense of UNIX, which explains the support of Sun and IBM (if you can't beat them, join 'em). However, there is a little more to this that meets the eye.

      Proprietary UNIX is great in some niche markets, but it does not compete cost-effectively with Linux or Windows. If the migration costs were the issue, why would people be moving both to Windows 2000 and Linux from UNIX, not just Linux? This trend is also evident when one looks at the Netcraft numbers (and actually reads their comments).

      The real issue, though, is that adding Linux servers IN PLACE OF Windows 2000 servers for certain tasks may also be happening. If people are already switching from UNIX to NT-based OS's, then Linux's wins are definitely at Windows expense, in denied market share rather than in lost market share (Windows never had the market share to begin with). All of this is on the server.

      Also, the data in the article was out of date (about 2 yerars old). Linux currently has about 2% desktop market share in the corporate environment accordign to the IDC as of last Feb. (I assume that most of these are technical workstations). But again, this may deny the 64-bit XP some market share as time goes on.

      Now for the ease-of-use question:
      in other words, after you get done with the hassles of Linux, and the hassles of Win2k, the hassles of Linux are a little bit more. time=money, so the cost of that extra hassle is the same as the cost of Windows & its apps.

      On a corporate level, yes. On an individual level, not so sure. I have watched people who are not computer gurus struggle endlessly with the insanity of WIndows. So it is not really newbie friendly either. In fact the only newbie friendly OS is arguably Mac OS!

      However, I have found that newbies that get started with Linux learn much more rapidly about their computer because it is more transparent. A good example of this is my parents, who went from being lost on Windows 95 to being lost on Red Hat 6.1. Funny thing, if I set up the desktop with their use in mind, they had fewer problems than they did with Windows 95. They started using their computer more, and now (even though they no longer use Windows) are able to help all their friends use Windows. So I think that Windows is "user friendly" because that is what people have struggled with and put a lot of effort into learning. Not that it is innately so. Expect Linux to take more of the desktop in the next few years...
      • by ahde (95143)
        "friendly", and "useful" are two different things. Macintosh may be more soothing -- appealing shapes and colors, friendlier text and error messages (bombs and frowns anyone?), but it is not easier for a newbie to use. Have them sit down and actually try to do something. From trying to launch an app, to setting system configuration, Apple is way behind Microsoft. Their focus groups need to spend less time asking people how they feel, and giving them real world tasks to complete. Using a computer is stressful, but making sitting in front of the machine less threatening isn't the answer. That's like getting drunk before battle (or sex). It may calm your nerves, but it won't help you get the job done.
    • Try it on grandma. then report back.

      Sadly, my grandma passed away before I got to introduce here to Linux, but my mom didn't have any trouble when she finally upgraded to the digital age (her previous word processing platform was a typewriter, 1920s Royale as I recall). The next least technical people I know (my wife and sister) also didn't had any problems. My sister actually thinks it's easier to use than Windows, although she was working the front desk at VA so she didn't have to worry about her printer not working (that's been my only headache with Linux).

      Having recently migrated to Win2k at work and SuSE 7.1 at home, I have to say that the windows migration was much more of a hassle. Strangely, most of the problems I had with Win2k were due to lack of drivers. (I still haven't been able to get our plotter working, but at least our CAD software doesn't crash 5 times a day anymore).

    • Tbe way that I see it, there are two kinds of newbies: those who know they know nothing and are comfortable with it, and those who know knothing but nonetheless pretend they are power users. The first group are no problem - I could have just as easily gotten my mother (in the former category) using linux+kde2 as I did using Windows 98. (She, and most types like her, are not going to want to change the default font of the title bar once it has been set up for her; she just wants basic functionality) Also, trust me, it would be far easier explaining the subtleties of a Linux Desktop Environment to her than it has been trying to explain the numerous bugs she has encountered in win98.

      Unfortunately folks in the latter category abound (posing power users), and the only reason for their proficiency w/ Windows is sheer repitition and reading the "Windows Tips" in the back of PC magazines. Not once do they have to think their way out of a problem, as there are many aspects of Windows that frankly defy logic. Once they are confronted with a situation which is a little bit different than Windows that requires a little bit of thought, it is very easy for them to throw up their hands and call it difficult to use and too UNIX-y.

      I use both Win2k and Linux, and honestly Win2k is fine for what I need it for (it is not bulletproof, tho, in my experience), but I made a (not too time-consuming, btw) commitment to learning how to use Linux, and I'll never go back. However, I think that I am not in the majority, as most people don't want to give up what is familiar.

      (BTW, for people that use the argument that "abc is too hard, as I don't want to know how xyz works, I just need it to get my work done!" I say, if you are working on a computer 80% of your working time, doesn't it behoove you to seriously consider alternatives that may (or may not, certainly) allow you to get your work done in a more efficient way? Ever heard of the concept one step backward, 10 steps forward?)
      • those who know they know nothing and are comfortable with it, and those who know knothing but nonetheless pretend they are power users

        I have also encountered those that know nothing and are confirmed they cannot ever understand nor remember anything. This leads to problem that no matter what you say they keep saying "this is too hard", "I don't understand this computer thing", "I should probably write that down". Usually they are afraid to try anything by their own because they could break something too. There's pretty much no hope with these kind of people nor the people that think they know everything already. Of course you could give them something that cannot be broken and in the same time gives perspective to computers and computing in whole that they realize they are allowed to try, allowed to make mistakes and they never can know everything. This something remains to be found.

        I think that making everything transparent and "easy" to use is problem. Computers are compared to cars every now and then and cars are claimed to be easy to use. If you didn't know anything about cars you couldn't even get into one! Think about it. Your average car user knows about fuel, engine, wheels, lights and stuff. One isn't allowed to drive before going through course. Beginners are allowed to use new computers without teaching anything because "windows is easy to use". New users should be told briefly about CPUs, different kinds of memory (system memory, CD, HDD here) and idea behind multitasking and networking. They don't need to know details unless they want to. They need to know something about internals to make them sure about themself to be able to try things.

        Linux doesn't need to be another windows or macos to be successive on desktop. We need programs that work (not that copy'n'paste by select, click middle button - if you have one - and hope it works), some basic tools with simple interface and cool background pictures. CLI shouldn't be avoided. Saying what you want is intuitive. You should be able to type/say "browser" or "internet" instead of clicking that "e" looking icon that's told to be browser. "image editor" or "view" instead of clicking eye with text "Adobe Photoshop" and so on. UNIX isn't much better here (netscape, emacs, vi, chdir, sed, gimp; would you know from name what they're used for?)

    • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:46PM (#2512848) Homepage

      I often think that this excuse really is more like "we can't get naive users to use it without being crippled". Linux distros need to test their software on non-Unix people more. Humans. Typical office people who, if you ask them if they have a Mac or a Windows box, say, "Yeah, I think so".


      Funny how these people used to be quite proficient with things like word perfect for dos and quattro pro for dos. If they were forced to go back to that, they would use it. It is their job, after all. They are capable, but everyone gives them the pointy-clicky thing that they can use, but never really understand. It used to be that people actually understood the tools they used to get their work done, since they actually *HAD* to read manuals on using that tool. Nowadays they are just amusing toys that actually get in the way more than help.


      The hassles you speak of are imaginary. If people knew their tools, no matter what those tools may be, there is no hassle. The problem these days is you have people using tools that they certainly do not understand, and there is no incentive for them to do so.

    • I did. She loves it.

      Grandma loves her Cobalt Qube. Web Server, NAT, multi-platform file server, firewall. AN instruction manual smaller and simpler than her new barbeque grill. and not a command line in sight.

      Also remember: every happy TiVO user is a happy Linux user....
      • Grandma loves her Cobalt Qube. Web Server, NAT, multi-platform file server, firewall. AN instruction manual smaller and simpler than her new barbeque grill. and not a command line in sight.

        Also remember: every happy TiVO user is a happy Linux user....


        <pet-peeve>

        Don't confuse the operating system with the user environment.

        </pet-peeve>

        The only happy TiVO users that are happy Linux users are the ones who know that Linux is the OS underneath it all. But even that doesn't ensure that they care. All they care about is that, when they hit the Pause button, live TV pauses.

        It's easy to look at TiVO, or Qube, and say that Linux is easy to use. But each of those devices has a very specific task, with a user experience designed to make that task as easy as possible. TiVO works because it looks and behaves like a super-intelligent VCR. A desktop PC running Linux could do everything TiVO does, but you have to do all of the installation and configuration for the hardware, drivers, and software. There aren't too many grandmas that can pull that off.

        To put it more simply: If the average user wanted to do it themselves, they'd already be running Linux. And Apple would be selling iMacs as kits.

    • This hassle is invisible to the Linux developers cuz they know how to fix or work around glitches when they arise. So it seems "easy to use" for them.


      Try it on grandma. then report back.




      Grandma doesn't fix or work around glitches anyway. She calls you. So wouldn't it be best to give her a system that you can quickly and easily fix...even remotely via SSH (assuming the link between her and her ISP isn't what is broken) In addition, grandma can't accidentally fuck up system stuff on her linux box like she can windoze9X.

    • I have a couple of friends with a Ph.D. or similar level of education who are using Windows. Most of them are/were not able to use it without the help of some more experienced friend.

      On the other hand, a friend of mine recently decided to install Linux (Debian) on her PC. She lives 300 km away, so I had to support her by phone, and we spent countless hours on the phone walking through the install procedure and the config files to get her system up and decently running. Supporting a newbee on the phone is certainly the best way to discover how horrible Linux can be.

      Conclusion ? Grandma certainly cannot use Windows without substantial help, but Linux is rather unuseable as well. Personally, I learned to use Unix before I ever saw Windows, so I find Windows pretty painful. I think neither Windows nor Linux is user-friendly - it just depends on what you are familiar with.

    • Just redirect 25% of that fund set asside for virus repairs/admin and use it for training.

      Solves that problem.

      LoB
    • > Linux distros need to test their software on non-Unix people more.

      Until Linux distros & software creators start using UI people who _aren't_ programmers first, they'll never have truly usable software. Programmers are not UI people, and UI people aren't programmers. I've _never_ encountered someone who could do both well.
    • I don't know about Grandma, but we have all of our support staff, including our secretaries, running Mandrake 8 and they like it just fine. There's a few basic install details that our syadmin has to handle in order to make the machines usable for them, such as making StarOffice be the default app to open MS Word and Excel docs and acroread as the default for opening PDFs, but other than that they don't have much trouble.

      The biggest "problem" we've had so far is that they try to double click icons on the desktop, opening the app twice - but except for one person I can think of, when we told them that you can change the launch action to be a double click through the KDE menu, they said, "No, I like this better...I just need to get used to it."
  • however (Score:3, Insightful)

    by djdead (135363) <`moc.lehcnew' `ta' `htes'> on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:51AM (#2511002)
    it still is good news in that they decided not to change to a m$ based solution. they went for linux.
    • Re:however (Score:4, Insightful)

      by spudnic (32107) on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:51PM (#2512546)
      This is the point. They went shopping for a more cost effective:stable solution and they came up with Linux.

      They could have possibly opted for Windows. So we can say that we are stealing potential sales from Microsoft and slowing it's widespread acceptance as a server OS.

      But is that the whole story? Would they have even had to make a decesion like this if there hadn't been a $free alternative? Could the switch to Linux be argued if it cost the same as Solaris? What if Linux and Solaris where expensive, but Windows was free? What would the decision have been then?

      Well, it doesn't matter because Linux is $free, Windows isn't, and they obviously had enough trust in it to move many systems over to it before the Christmas rush. That's really saying something.

  • by stiggystiggy (266085) on Friday November 02, 2001 @08:39AM (#2511509)
    How is this news? Netcraft [netcraft.com] said this way back in their June Report [netcraft.com]:
    "Linux is the second most commonly used operating system. Linux has been consistently gaining share since this survey started, but interestingly not significantly to Windows detriment. Operating systems which have lost share have been Solaris and other proprietary operating systems, and to a small degree BSD."
    Also, why didn't the article spell out the loser? It's Sun, Sun, Sun, Sun, SUN! Sun is getting clobbered on all fronts. Their hardware is nice, but not so nice that is it needed for 90% of the applications on which it is used.

    Solaris, their operating system, has few advantages over Linux, nowadays. Frankly, without adding the GNU tools, Solaris is virtually unusable! (And, who's gonna pay $10k for their compiler when GCC does the job?)

    Sun is about to hit a brick wall. Unless they change direction dramatically, Linux is going to gobble them up, just as SGI consumed Cray. Cray was meaningful for a long time, until the capabilities of "Minis" (as Supercomputer folk like to refer to UNIX machines) silently approched the power of super computers at a fraction of the cost.

    The same is happening with Linux-Sun. For a small fraction of the cost, Linux on commodity hardware (Intel) is approching the power of Sun's products. It's inevitable, without some sigificant change.

    • by nion (19898) <nion AT geekfest DOT net> on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:51PM (#2512539) Homepage
      For a small fraction of the cost, Linux on commodity hardware (Intel) is approching the power of Sun's products. It's inevitable, without some sigificant change.

      I disagree, and it's not because I work at Sun. Commodity hardware is not nearly on a par regarding uptime and reliability as Commercial hardware. People don't buy Sun because it's cheap. People buy Sun because it WORKS. If you think I'm biased, replace Sun with IBM or SGI or Compaq or any other corporate entity that builds server hardware. You don't base your $$$ infrastructure on a $2k LinTel machine.

      Sure, you can build a rather good system [google.com] with commodity hardware. The PHB's MAY allow the techies to install Linux around the network. But when it comes to making a mission-critical application, they're not going to allow them to run down to PC Joe's, pick up a $2k box, install a $30 OS and believe it will run 24/7 without failure.
      • I'm not quite sure what you're against here. Are you saying Solaris is much better than Linux when it comes to stability, or that Sun hardware is much better than commodity intel hardware?

        How would you rate Solaris on commodity hardware or Linux on Sun hardware?
      • by Ami Ganguli (921) on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:07PM (#2512644) Homepage

        Ok, it's definately true that you don't buy a cheapo clone and use it for a mission critical server. But on real hardware (high-end Intel, RS/6000) Linux is every bit as reliable as commercial Unix. The only thing that's missing is "hot-swap anything" features that are only available on really high-end hardware.

        It's true that Linux can't go up against Sun in every market yet, but I think the original poster is correct in saying that Sun needs to do something before they lose their edge. McNealy said recently that Linux was no threat since anything new developed for Linux could be incorporated into Solaris, but that's stupid. If you're selling a higher-price product you can't compete by matching the lower priced product, you have to be better.

        • Ok, it's definately true that you don't buy a cheapo clone and use it for a mission critical server. But on real hardware (high-end Intel, RS/6000) Linux is every bit as reliable as commercial Unix. The only thing that's missing is "hot-swap anything" features that are only available on really high-end hardware.

          Hmmm... Linux supports hot spares on Raid Arrays and will hot swap the SCSI disks if the bus supports it. So that point is moot. See the Software-RAID howto for details.
      • People don't buy Sun because it's cheap. People buy Sun because it WORKS.

        I work in a Sun based datacenter. Just yesterday I got in a Ultra 10 that would not boot because they had the jumpers configured wrong on the HD's (two internal IDE's). A few months ago we purchased a E250 that arrived with a dead motherboard. We also have had a A5200 disk enclusure that the sun hardware reps had to totally tear down and replace every board in it to make it work, and it sill only works if you remove the A interface board (which means we don't have the redundent IO paths).

        I could go on and on with the hardware failures that we've had at our small datacenter (we only have about 30 machines). Surfice it to say, Sun's hardware sucks these days.
      • But when it comes to making a mission-critical application, they're not going to allow them to run down to PC Joe's, pick up a $2k box, install a $30 OS and believe it will run 24/7 without failure.

        No, they're going to allow you to call up Dell, buy 2 $1.5k boxes, and configure them for high availability [linux-ha.org]. Of course, there's some labor costs involved here to get to Sun-equivalence in terms of guaranteed uptime, but I'm selling my labor, not Sun (or Dell, for that matter) hardware. And hardware + labor still comes in way below Sun.

      • Do you really believe that Sun servers are noticeably more reliable than Intel-based servers from top manufacturers like Dell or Compaq?

        I'd argue that they aren't. I can buy a refurbished Dell Poweredge server for under $9000 that includes a 3 year on-site warranty, and has plenty of hard drive space, CPU power and RAM to compete head-to-head with most servers I see people using from Sun with Solaris on them.

        One problem I see with Sun hardware is that it's so pricy, people tend to hang onto it for a longer time before replacing it. That's not very sensible, because it leaves them behind sites on Intel platforms doing aregular 2-3 year upgrade cycle. (The Intel admins probably spend the same or less for 2 complete systems than was spent for one Sun server.)

        If you have new systems every 2 or 3 years, you don't really need to be concerned if it's built well enough to run reliably for 7 or 8 years, now do you?
        • If you have new systems every 2 or 3 years, you don't really need to be concerned if it's built well enough to run reliably for 7 or 8 years, now do you? For desktops and for servers you can afford to have down now and then, no. For mission-critical servers, yes. You want a MTBF of decades (if possible), so there is a very small chance of it going down in the 2 or 3 years before it's replaced.

          That's the hardware requirement -- very good odds that nothing will break. Software requirement is, first, the only reason to _ever_ reboot is if you had to shut down to replace hardware, and second, a way to automatically switchover to the backup server if there is a hardware failure.If you see a Windows system in that sort of application, the person in charge is an idiot -- simply because rebooting to install a security patch is unacceptable.
    • by Arethan (223197) on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:27PM (#2512741) Journal
      Small applications are the only areas that Linux will ever beat Solaris on Sun hardware. I'd like to see a Linux cluster beat SunFire15k or even an older E10k in a performance vs. total cost of ownership chart.

      Let's see, so we hire 10 people at 80k a piece to manage our 500 machine cluster, which will need to be replaced every 4 years at a minimum, just so that we can utilize a free OS?

      Or, do we shell out some bucks up front, and get fault tolerant hardware, running an OS in a 5th generation VM environment, that will only require 2 people to manage, and will not need to be replaced for at least 10-15 years. (Upgrades not being considered replacements)

      I'll stick with Sun, thanks. I'd much rather deal with a single machine, using extremely fault-tolerant tech than having to deal with 500 commodity pc's that are going to go through the usual 4 year replacement cycle.

      Linux and Sun both have their place. Linux is a nice server, and a moderate desktop OS for the tech-savvy (at least I use it as a desktop). It's good for ftp servers, web servers, even small to mid database servers. Sun, on the other hand, is great for extremely high availability situations, where the 0.001% of down time in a 99.999% uptime plan could cost the company a few million in revenue.

      Linux is saturating the low end market. Good! The low end market could use some low-cost & stable server software that runs on inexpensive hardware. But Sun caters more to the high end market where uptime is critical and data-sets are unbelievably large.

      And no, Intel is no where near doing what Sun can already do. Go shoot your precious linux server with a .44, and see if it's still up. I'd guess the answer is no. Doing the same with a properly configured SunFire 15k would result in a high replacement cost, but an up and running system nonetheless. Processing power? Single cpu vs single cpu is getting closer. But for fault tolerance, full hotswap upgrades (as in lets pop a few more cpus into this machine...while it's running), high end SMP (way more than 8-way, try 72-way), and high end memory size (as in my server as 200GB of ram, what do you have under the hood?), Intel isn't even close. Sun, OTOH, has been doing it for a few years now.

      So...how was linux going to kill Sun again?
    • by devphil (51341) on Friday November 02, 2001 @02:09PM (#2512962) Homepage


      Not only do I admin and program on Solaris boxes, I'm also a GCC library maintainer. There're my qualifications.

      Solaris, their operating system, has few advantages over Linux, nowadays. Frankly, without adding the GNU tools, Solaris is virtually unusable!

      "Frankly," you're utterly wrong. Not only is Solaris just fine and dandy, it has features for programmers which aren't anywhere near to showing up on Linux. For example:

      • The proc tools, for manipulating a running process. Try using pldd(1) to find out exactly which libraries have been mapped in, or pstack(1) to print the call stack. Yes, that's right, print the function call stack of a running process from the command line, without a debugger, and it works flawlessly. There're about a dozen of these tools, man -s 1 proc for more.
      • Kernel watchpoints on memory. Tell the kernel you want to know when a process tries to read or write from an arbitrary block of memory. That process when then be frozen (or killed, as per your instructions), allowing you to find out exactly what piece of code is trashing memory.
      • A boatload of malloc(3) implementations. Want a version of malloc that uses brk? It's there. Want it to use mmap instead? It's there. Want a version of malloc that never reuses memory? Or a malloc which sets kernel watchpoints on its own bookkeeping structures, for when your code is hosing the malloc internal memory? It's all there.

      Linux has none of these.

      (And, who's gonna pay $10k for their compiler when GCC does the job?)

      Severely uninformed statement, my friend. GCC doesn't generate SPARC code nearly as well as Sun's compiler. (Ask the GCC developers.) It's good but it's not there yet.

      GCC cannot even generate a 64-bit binary yet. (Very close, but still some bugs.)

      There are plenty of reasons to buy a SPARC, and to use Solaris, and to use Sun's software. It's all about the right tool for the right job, and Linux quite often isn't it. (I write this sitting on a Linux box.) Quit'cher karma whoring. :-)

    • Solaris, their operating system, has few advantages over Linux, nowadays. Frankly, without adding the GNU tools, Solaris is virtually unusable! (And, who's gonna pay $10k for their compiler when GCC does the job?)


      Shhhhhhh! Quiet! All you're going to accomplish with crazy talk like that is to get RMS on a tirade about how it should be called GNU/Solaris.

      Steven
  • by turbine216 (458014) <turbine216.gmail@com> on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:48PM (#2512523)
    As MS still holds a great deal of market share in server installs, this IS a blow to MS, as they failed to sell Amazon on their own product!

    Besides that fact, it's still a VERY good thing for Linux, as Amazon is a HUGE online retail operation that serves as a model for many other businesses. That's how Linux is becoming successful - word of mouth and trial by fire. Linux proves itself in a very fast and competitive market, and more people jump on. Of course *NIX and BSD systems will be the first to be replaced, because the people who maintain them aren't as afraid to make the jump to Linux (they're already somewhat familiar with it). Give it time, though, and you'll see quite a few former MS boxen turning over to linux.

    I mean, honestly, two years ago, did you ever think linux would have about 24% of the server market? No! So of course it seems impossible that it might steal an even bigger share - and thus there will always be those who doubt that it will ever happen. But slowly, it WILL happen. It's already happening.
    • You make a point, but its rather weak.

      Imagine the cost to port over a bunch of stuff already created in a UNIX environment to Windows. It wasn't necessarily the cost of the windows boxen as much as it was the porting.

      Going from Sun to Linux is much easier than *NIX to Windows.
      • You're right, and maybe i was a bit amgiguous in that area. The way i envision it, Linux isn't going to win the server market by "taking over" MS boxes. Rather, it's going to win when companies start replacing those boxes with Linux boxes. As technology improves, the companies that have been running NT servers for the past 5 or 6 years will want something new. And when they upgrade, there's a good chance that the "word of mouth" advertising of Linux will sell them on a nice Linux server farm instead of a Win2000 (or whatever) setup. That's exactly what is happening with Sun and BSD right now. New linux boxes are replacing old *nix boxes and Sun boxes because it's cheaper to introduce, and cheaper to maintain. Eventually, once Linux reaches a certain point of maturity, the same thin will happen to MS boxes. They'll be replaced.
      • Imagine the cost to port over a bunch of stuff already created in a UNIX environment to Windows. It wasn't necessarily the cost of the windows boxen as much as it was the porting.

        But people like DomainZero are migrating from Solaris to Windows 2000. The real problem is that proprietary UNIX is hurt by economy-of-scale issues and is too expensive. Migrating to Linux OR Windows is an immense savings.

      • Going from Sun to Linux is much easier than *NIX to Windows.

        Quite so.

        I'm positive that the software migration costs were a compelling factor in Amazon's decision to migrate from *NIX to Linux. So Linux becomes entrenched in a high visibility mission-critical application where its benefits can be proven.

        That steals the new servers from MS that might have gone to NT/2K, but that's not the difficult fight.

        What will be really difficult, as we all know very well, is in 2-3 years time when the decision needs to be made again. Change from Linux to Windows - why? Linux works like a champ and costs dirt cheap to run. Result: Stick with Linux.

        Change Windows to Linux? Ummm...well everything on the Windows side is cross-linked between multiple MS applications, OS, authentication schemes that haven't made it into Samba yet, need a Passport, etc. so that a change is a significant undertaking. Result: Stick with Windows.

        Summing up:

        Going from Sun to Linux is much easier than *NIX to Windows and both are easier than going from Windows to *NIX.

        I think it's mostly a people problem, with all the newthink lessons required of the Windows IT support staff.

        How many native Windows IT guys have been able to unplug one part of a large Windows shop operation and replug a Linux solution and have it just play? What motivation do they have to do so?

    • It's a blow to MS's revenue growth. Remember, NT was to be a Unix killer. It was cheaper than any Unix at the time and it wouldn't be a forked mess (which was MS's take on the Unix world at the time) and companies would be able to leverage their Win32 knowledge to counter the problems of porting from Unix to NT. And MS were making pretty good inroads at the very low end (admittedly it was mostly Novell they were creaming, not Unix). The IT press had all but organized a wake for Unix in the mid 90's. NT was the heir apparent and was going to eventually march its way up to mainframe type status.

      Linux has killed that DEAD. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Microsoft's licensing structure is more like the Unix vendors of old -- i.e. the customers hate it -- and Linux has become the "works just as well for much less money" alternative to MS's server products where MS is strongest: file and print serving.

      This is why Microsoft is pushing services. They've found that their old plan for growth, high end servers, isn't going to be the homerun they thought it would be. Look at their datacenter product. It doesn't have the advantages that they used with the desktop / low end server market. You can't just bung it on any hardware, and you can't afford ANYTHING that brings your system down (the OS has to be rock solid). And that cost's $$$. So thier datacenter OS is limited to only approved hardware and from what I understand ain't exactly cheaper than any comparible Unix offering. If you can't beat 'em on features and/or price you're not going to dominate the market.

      If services don't take hold the way MS wants them too they could be in a world of hurt. They've got nowhere to grow. The desktop is saturated, and Linux is going to keep them in check on the low end of the server market.
      • Well, back in the 1980s, the big bad guy was AT+T, not Microsoft, and the GNU project was formed specifically to commodify UNIX(r)(tm). Microsoft (etc) smelled the same blood in the water as Stallman did.

        But, that wasn't a difficult plan -- UNIX has always been *almost* a commodity business -- the whole sell of "Open Systems" (POSIX, SUS) is that it's cheap for the customer to switch vendors. So, it's no shock that GNU's Not Unix has been moderatly successful over the last 15+ years.

        Now, Microsoft has never played that game -- they're job is to get entrenched and become irreplacable. They only become irrelevant when they fail to provide the services that people need. Much like IBM mainframes, they won't be so much replaced but bypassed.
    • But slowly, it WILL happen.
      Another thing to consider is that nobody switches back from linux to windows. It's arguable that the cost of moving from windows to linux is too high. But very very slowly, people are moving from windows to linux (Wine will help a lot in the coming years). And they will never go back. The move from windows to linux can be motivated on cost alone, and corporations are cost-minimizing entities. The move from linux to windows must have a much stronger reason, because windows is more expensive, you have less control, you're more prone to viruses, you have to rebuild boxes on a 6-month basis after they become unstable, and you're tied to the vendor's proprietary whims and licensing schemes, etc...

      Water runs downhill. Windows is at the top, and linux is at the bottom. The hill is not very steep. Eventually, all the water will be at the bottom of the hill. The only thing that could change this is if Microsoft started giving Windows away for free.

      --Bob

  • I happen to know of one organization that has decided to convert almost all their desktop systems to Gnome+StarOffice, wherever possible. I think the plan is to have one or two Win* boxen, to act as conversion stations when having to send electronic documents to the outside world, but the overall plan is to dump Windows because of licensing cost issues.

    Regardless of what that article says, the costs are very real and companies are definitely considering it. Perhaps one or two cases may have been misinterpreted, but by and large the case for converting to Linux has not been mispresented.

    --jordan
  • by TommyAquinas (231046) on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:50PM (#2512536) Homepage Journal
    Because of its robustness, modularity and stability, Linux is highly able to replace Solaris, HP-UX and AIX type licensed OS's in the enterprise. The people who buy these systems buy them to get the best technical solution to their problems and consider cost of ownership, which is high in any OS choice given the task, secondarily.

    Trying to get Linux to beat Windows on the desktop is fighting yesterday's battle. Want to kill Microsoft? Sap it's growth, which is in server OS's and embedded systems (XBox, Pocket PC, etc.)

    The amount of energy spent by the development community in trying to be the next Microsoft is astounding, but very few vocal developers seem to even focus on what Microsoft is trying to become.

    To borrow a phrase from the Old West, "Cut 'em off at the pass" and focus on making an OS that runs devices better than Windows ever will, an OS that runs DB2 and Oracle better than any other and an OS that can be extended and integrated with server side applications at compile time with more ease.

    If you take away Microsoft's revenue growth, you take away their stock price. Take away their stock price and you take away their monopoly.
    • Because of its robustness, modularity and stability, Linux is highly able to replace Solaris...

      Been there, tried that, still running Solaris. :-/ Admittedly this with RedHat 6.2 - it booted and ran happily on an E250, but the lack of key applications really killed it as a viable alternative to Solaris. While there are a growing number of companies producing "Linux" versions of their software, nearly all of it is x86-based Linux only.

      When RedHat discontinued Sparc support, it removed the key selling point to management - running the same software on the same operating system on different platforms. I've since tried SuSE 7.1, but the 2.4 kernel didn't work on 32-bit machines, and it has even *less* applications out of the box due to their insistence on only using free software. (I'm sure Stallman would approve, but try explaining that to the users!)

      Still waiting for Sun to get a Clue(tm)...
  • We had come to the opinion that IT/IS departments that had gotten used to UNIX systems feel more comfortable about moving to Linux than IT/IS departments that had gotten comfortable with Windows. There still seems to be a strong feeling of uncertainty when it comes to planning for migration headaches (which are inevitable).

    It's still awfully hard to penetrate into markets where the people involved are only aware of doing things a certain way. I can recall having a job in college where I became responsible for a file server running a quite old version of NetWare. I wasn't thrilled about it and the company that sold the box to my employer wasn't around anymore to support it. But it ran and I prayed that the box wouldn't conk out, because I feared having to convince my boss to migrate to another OS.

    • the company that sold the box to my employer wasn't around anymore to support it

      Yeah, but Novell is around (for the moment) and can support their products like gangbusters. Novell tech support has answers to just about anything that can happen to your machine - they have seen it all. We still run 4.11 just because it is so damn stable and you cannot replace ZENworks with anything - nothing even comes close.

      • Yeah, but Novell is around (for the moment) and can support their products like gangbusters. Novell tech support has answers to just about anything that can happen to your machine - they have seen it all. We still run 4.11 just because it is so damn stable and you cannot replace ZENworks with anything - nothing even comes close.

        Yeah... I seem to remember a story about one being walled in... I think it was even slashdotted...

        Support is everything. I have been very impressed with the supportability of Linux over Windows and that may eventually be what moves market share...
  • Winformant? (Score:4, Funny)

    by rw2 (17419) on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:52PM (#2512555) Homepage
    I think I trust winformant to tell me about Linux about as much as I trust slashdot to tell me about Windows... :-)
    • Hehe, yeah while the article is true (and surprisingly less anti-linux that I expected it to be when I saw the 'winformant' banner) it had a very subtle FUD tone to it. Sort of frightening :) it was almost like you could feel Bill's evil pulsing through the website.
      • FUD

        I was looking for someone to say those three little letters before I did and it was you. I particularly liked this little piece of propaganda.

        Another point these Linux adoption stories fail to mention is the cost of transitioning from Windows to Linux; this cost is the reason so few companies are undertaking such an action.

        and

        Busch threw another wrench into any mass Linux migration by noting that the overall cost of Linux and Windows 2000 is almost identical after you factor in support and maintenance.

        Sounds like it came straight out of Redmond.

    • That's interesting because I sometimes send emails to Mr. Thurott griping about his ridiculous anti-MS stances.

      He's a much more fair and balanced reporter of news than any "editor" at slashdot, that's for sure. You'll notice he doesn't use a icon of a Penguin in front of a USSR flag as the logo for Linux stories.
  • Still Important (Score:2, Interesting)

    Sure, this isn't a case of Linux replacing Windows, but it is a case of Free replacing Proprietary, and that's just as important, if not moreso. Microsoft's Ministry of FUD has been working overtime trying to scare people away from Free Software solutions, using "arguements" that are little more than "Free Software Is Communism!".

    Free Software / Linux advocates should be glad that: 1) the best a multi-billion dollar corporation can do is mimic some of the very unoriginal trolls around here; and 2) companies are not being trolled.
  • Cause I coulda sworn I mentioned this before [slashdot.org].

    Where's my credit?? ;-)
  • Linux (for now) competes on low end (mostly Intel) hardware. The biggest player on the low-end by far is Microsoft, so that's who's most affected. Users who switch from proprietary Unix to Linux do so because they see a cost benefit from switching to low-end hardware. If Linux weren't there then they would be forced to go to MS.

    It is true that Linux has clobbered the main lown-end Unix: SCO. Good riddence :-).

    One thing that does surprise me is that Windows is still so popular on basic file & print servers. These machines don't run any special software, so they should be simple to replace with Linux boxen. We just got a Cobalt cube in our office and it's really neat. Setup is fast (like 3 minutes!) and painless, and it does everything you need from a small office server. Why aren't these things more popular?


  • The numbers corroborate this statement. According to research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), Linux owns 24 percent of the server market, whereas Windows own about 38 percent of the server market. And Linux will continue in the number-two position at least through 2005

    2005?! Like, in 3 years, right? This is said as if it's bad. Linux overtaking NT in the server market by 2005 sounds like one of the first realistic goals I've heard for the OS community.

    At least it's much more realistic than the standard"Tonight? Tonight we take over the world" refrain.
  • Look closer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ajuda (124386)
    I know you all read the article, but did anyone read the web address? http://www.wininformant.com. It's part of the Windows 2000 Magazine Network. Their motto is Windows news and information. Does anyone here see any potential bias when the website says that Windows will rule for the foreseeable future?

  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Friday November 02, 2001 @12:58PM (#2512596) Homepage
    One fellow used to cast things in terms of products for the mass market, and products for the elite class of users. Sure, there's going to be a huge market for the 'computers grandma can use', just like 'billions & billions served' - but there's also going to be a small but vocal and powerful minority of very experienced users who just don't want a computer with the training wheels bolted on and whizzards to hold your hand thru all common tasts. In the democracy of 'market choice' it will become increasingly important to ensure that the rights of the minority users who know what they want and already know how to do it don't get trampled on.

    Yes, I do it the difficult way because it's more educational and I want to know what's going on and be in control. Notice how every time your super-automatic wiz-bang box craps out *I* have to come over and fix it or figure it out for you??
    • The long-held theory that it's better to have a computer that is hard to use because you learn more about how it works is ridiculous. You state a small-but-vocal-minority want this. That's fine, me and the majority don't. What I want when I set up an OS is to boot to a cd, type in the cd code, pick a few options, then click OK. 30 minutes later, I have a fully functioning, connected to the internet XP box. Two weeks later, after I've figured out how to mount a drive, configure my video card, set up KDE, install a package, get my sound card working, get my network card working, get my DSL working, read 4 books and spent countless hours puzzled as to why something doesn't work (oh, I'm supposed to know to add some cryptic line to a file I didn't know existed), I'd be maybe to the point where I could use my box on Linux. This is not to say that this is true for most people here. Of course, you can configure a Linux box with your eyes closed. The problem is, you are a small but a little too vocal minority.

      Ease of use is not restricted to how easy it is to teach grandma to use konqueror in Linux compared to Explorer in windows. It also has a lot to do with how easy it is to fix things when they go wrong, how easy it is to set up a box. In Linux, it simply is not easy. It's hard, takes a lot of learning and practice. People don't have time for that.

      I love screwing around, tinkering, breaking and fixing things too, but until Linux can solve the ease of use/setup problem there's no way average people are going to put up with it.


  • Of course - most anyone skilled enough at general PC operation enough to use Linux is going to be aware of the massive ammount of software that assumes you are running in a Windows environment. Therefore, they are going to have some copy of Windows for the sake of convenience to be able to use that software if the need arises.

    Note though that this only means that Linux owners are going to have SOME copy of Windows. Not necissarily the latest.
  • An interesting question is how the other *nix versions affect Linux. Is it better for "the community" to have several *nix variants out there competing against MS, or better to have just one, be it Linux or some other variant? Put aside your religiousish tendancies for your favorite OS, and lets discuss a wider benefit.

    Having more than one version available gives more options to people and allows for several niche distros of *nix. It also presents several targets for MS instead of allowing them to focus their sights on one "problem".

    With a single *nix front, we would be able to address concerns across more installs, and consolidate the knowledge from more sources to improve the overall product.

    I'm not sure which way is best, and more than likely a hybrid will be the end result, and for the better. What's the feeling here about all of this?
    • Having more than one version available gives more options to people and allows for several niche distros of *nix.

      Good point I suppose, but I don't see how it would be prevented by having only Linux.

      Honestly, what options are you missing in Linux? And of those, how many couldn't be available within a year if somebody threw some resources at them?

      Linux already serves most niche markets, be it server, desktop, embedded, supercomputing, etc. That's the beauty of it, because of it's open source nature it can be all things to all people, and the lessons learned by one niche percolate through to the others, thereby improving the whole.

      Linux is not a single entity like AIX (for example), and I think it is inappropriate to think of it in those terms. Linux is not a business.

      That said though, I think BSD will always be around, for the same reasons Linux will be, regardless of success or failure to grab marketshare.

      • Bringing up BSD makes my point. BSD seems to fill the security niche out of the box, where as most linux distors, slack excluded, is much looser. Maybe they are the same OS at the root and it's just the packaging that makes them niche.
    • I think that there is a benefit to having several core OSs. For example FreeBSD and Linux. For features and tons of community documentation, choose Linux. For stability, choose FreeBSD...

      That heing said, more developer market share is better and provides a stronger base. I think that once proprietary OSs become beaten, I think we should look at the possiblity of making an Linux source code available for Free/OpenBSD developers. Obviously, this cannot happen until the Proprietary OS market is no longer viable. This would, however, help everyone out by allowing a greater degree of code sharing and good will...
  • Paul Thurrott, who's carer is clearly wrapped up in the success of MS products, pulls a nasty bait-and-switch in this story.

    He talks about how Amazon and Intel switched some servers from $$IX to Linux, and says that the "anti-Microsoft" press has been mis-representing these moves.

    Then he quotes an Intel executive saying that they haven't even considered switching their MS based systems to Linux. The implication being that NT is doing a great job in their back office. But the reason given for not making the switch is "lack of 'robust office packages'"!

    So, the story, apparently, is that neither Amazon nor Intel dare run NT in the FIRST PLACE.

    Or, to put my own bias on the shelf for a moment, Amazon and Intel see Linux a preferable alternative to NT/Win2k as a server platform.

    How is this a win for MS?

    -Peter

    PS: This post was generated on a Linux desktop.
  • high market capitalization, high price earnings ratio, high return on equity, etc., these things all come from growth opportunities, and not from already profitable product lines. Linux's growth in the server market, an area that Microsoft has long targeted, comes very much at the expense of Microsoft. It tears at the heart of Microsoft's future strategy.

    Microsoft is already a monopoly on the desktop, and all they are left with is clinging to that with challenges from all sides.

  • Things are going pretty much the way I figured they would. Linux is making progress in the areas it shines in. If it keeps up, I see the following happening in 5-10 years:

    The market will split into 3 basic genres. You'll still have the Apple/Macintosh vanguard, as those diehards won't disappear. Apple's done a good job of keeping that core audience, and they'll still have them. Microsoft will become less of a business solution and more of a home system. People still want an easy to set up system, and Microsoft gives them that. However, companies are already getting sick of MS licsensing and bugs. That leads to the major change, Linux will become the system of choice for businesses. Given 5-10 years, install and administration of Linux distros will be as simple as Microsoft's are now. Look at how far the last 5 years has brought Linux if you don't believe me. Businesses will go with the low cost implementation that Linux provides over the headaches that come with MS. Programs like StarOffice will make the transition of the business side less painful. Companies like Sun will find themselves having to shift priorities away from the OS in order to survive.

    In short, Microsoft will stay a dominant player in the home PC field, with Apple being the secondary choice. However, businesses will tend to go with the cheaper and less bug prone Linux for their own installs. Of course, that's just my viewpoint on things. Your mileage may vary.
  • Linux will dominate the world with or without displacing existing Microsoft systems. Simply put, the potential future installed base of information systems is probably less than a percent of a percent today.

    Microsoft will certainly be involved in many of the future ones, but Linux offers so many more advantages that its use will far exceed any benefits to be found in a Microsoft offering.

    Won't win the desktop? Who cares! Why try to beat the McDonalds of the computing industry when there are plenty of kosher delis, sushi bars, trattorias, cafes, gyro places, hot dog stands, russian tea rooms, and so many other styles and qualities of restaurants that haven't been built yet?

  • That is why they don't even think of changing windows machines to Linux machines !
    There is no internet browser that could be found as a decent one - and VERY far from good -, and about decent office apps only StarOffice could do the job badly if compared to Office2000/XP, etc...

    Plus there is the problem of nothing is working on the desktop - end of the question! Everything is crippled, except KDE!

    Everything is beta software when they release the "new/improved whatsoever" to make Linux users buy a new distro release; I speak from my own experience. They want (the distributions) to make money with the desktop, that's all.

    I love and use Linux/FreeBSD only in text mode and for servers with grafical tools, NOT on day-to-day desktop/office computers. For me this is very sad, believe me on this one, because I feel Linux is superior but lacks a general strategy for the desktop, there is no master ideia, each Linux person/develloper/distribution have its own master ideia and its own standard, nobody is united by a common way of thinking about desktop usage. very sad like I said.

    Like someone said above: "I am (was more on the past) a Linux desktop lover, not a windows hater", too.
  • by BradleyUffner (103496) on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:19PM (#2512698) Homepage
    The point of Linux isn't to wipe out Windows, or even to compete with it. Linux is about creating a free operating system that people will choose if it's the right tool for the job. Linux doesn't have to hurt Windows to be sucsesfull, it just has to keep improving. Just because Microsoft wasn't hurt by this doesn't mean that it isn't a victory for linux.
  • by hAkron (448427) on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:31PM (#2512761)
    "Yeah, Microsoft is evil because they have taken away our choices, let's crush them so that the thing we like becomes our only choice" Why do we have to be for this camp or that camp? Why can't we all enjoy the best software available reguardless of who developes it?
  • by mikosullivan (320993) <miko&idocs,com> on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:33PM (#2512773)
    This article begs an important question for OpenSourceLobby and other organizations devoted to public education about open source: how adversarial is our relationship with other closed-source OS's? Our relationship with Microsoft up until now has been clear: they're the adversary. That isn't going to change. However, there are other vendors of closed-source OS's and open source is competition for them. The strange part of this equation is that many producers of closed-source OS's also push open source products. IBM and Sun both come to mind.

    So the question is this: how much effort should we devote to pushing Linux and BSD as alternatives to close-source OS's?

    My answer to that question is "not much". We need to focus on our main adversary: Microsoft. John Q. Public and Buford T. Congressman are probably not going care much about which version of Un*x somebody ought to choose, but will care very much about whether to use Windows.

    In short, "open source Un*x or close source Un*x?" is simply not on the political map, and doesn't need to be.

    -Miko

  • well, they switched from Unix to linux. it *could* have been Unix to windows. who lost? if you've taken any business/financial/economics classes, you know what opportunity cost means. linux might not have managed to erode the windows market (at least in these cases). but seems to me , has managed to stop windows from eroding Unixes market share further.

    i mean, around the time when NT4 came out, everyone and their brother were replacing big iron (with unix) with multiple NT boxens. seems like we've managed to check that. it's only a matter of time before linux invades the NT/w2k/(whatever they're calling it this week) market.

    you gotta stop their advance before you can make 'em retreat.

    if i were a redmondien, i would not be happy because linux is merely replacing Unix. i would be extreamly unhappy that linux is replacing Unix. it could have been winNT/(whatever...) that was replacing unix. opportunity costs for MS. no new revenue streams. no new market shares.

    gottsa love how MS and winformants can put a spin on things.
  • Remember that NT was originally marketed as a UNIX killer. Then Win2000 was marketed as the UNIX killer. The significance of these switches from UNIX to Linux is that Win2000 was not able to win these UNIX seats in these situations. With the ever shrinking overall growth in the computer industry, grabbing share from competitors is becoming quite important.

  • I find it kind of amusing that everyone kind of assumed that Amazon switched FROM Windows to Linux, when the article never really said that. I thought that as well.
  • by shut_up_man (450725) on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:59PM (#2512902) Homepage
    These guys just don't learn... Linux isn't about market share - it's about making a good OS! Linus and Alan Cox don't get up in the morning and think of ways to cut into Microsoft's pie, they try and improve the existing Linux system. Woz said it in his recent interview... he cut his hacker teeth building computers that competed against their previous versions, always improving.

    As for Wininformant, yay well done. You caught the fact that a Linux win wasn't actually a Microsoft loss. Here's some more news for you: WE DON'T CARE.

    shut up man
  • by valen (2689) on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:59PM (#2512908) Homepage
    After all, Microsoft has been trying to take the
    "enterprise" business from the unix vendors for
    years. If linux replaces a traditional unix vendor,
    you can be sure they at least considered, and rejected microsoft when considering Linux.
  • by EisPick (29965) on Friday November 02, 2001 @01:59PM (#2512912)
    ... if Linux didn't exist? I think these analyses ignore the loss of momentum that Linux has caused Windows.

    Five years ago, as NT was replacing Netware in most enterprises, many predicted that Unix systems would be the next to fall under the Windows steamroller. However, in cases where simplicity and the availability of commodity hardware are more important than raw performance and scalability, people are turning to Linux to replace Unix systems, not Windows.

    So while Linux may not have made major inroads in replacing existing Windows servers, it has prevented Microsoft's hegemony on the desktop to spread to the server side, and has given Unix (generically) a new lease on life.

    I think that's a pretty major story.
  • Now let's see, Microsoft is not growing on the desktop because they own 90% of that market so they are going after the server market which, at the mid to high end is running UNIX. Now Linux is getting in there and taking those BIG deals that Microsoft was gunning for and it's no big deal to Microsoft.

    What bull. Microsoft have anything to do with this article? Sure sounds like spin to me.

    LoB

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