Open Source

The Linux/Microsoft debate has a new focus

When fans of Linux and Microsoft operating systems butt heads these days, their arguments are different from their past debates. Find out what's fanning the flames now.

According to a recent discussion on TechRepublic, the old argument between Linux disciples and Microsoft fans is changing from which OS is better to how the two can coexist. TechRepublic members started discussing the issue in response to an Auerbach Publications article, “In depth: Is Microsoft a Linux friend or foe?

The report attempts to clarify the nature of the relationship between Linux and Microsoft by looking at how the Redmond company describes the open-source software.

Looking over the postings in the discussion about the article, what becomes clear is that Linux and Microsoft fans seem to be using both systems.

Take a look at these two messages; one from an apparent Linux lover, and the other from a Microsoft supporter.

Ross_s wrote, “Microsoft keeps trying to deny Linux as a viable alternative, but the stats show Linux steadily gaining. I run both because some apps I need don't have Linux equivalents yet, but that should change soon.”

After feigning shock that Microsoft would propose Linux as a competitor while being charged with running a monopoly, jmoretti writes, “If Linux didn’t compete against Microsoft and vice versa, we would have no market. Let them bicker. ... We, as IT professionals, are supposed to be able to look at our requirements and available options and choose what platform best suits our needs. … My company uses a mixed Microsoft/Linux environment.”

Different strokes for different folks
Most discussions seemed to focus on the ease of use for end users that Windows enjoys, and the nuts and bolts tweaking that Linux users see as what real IT pros are supposed to do.

ASpadaro made a number of comments that echoed this theme. He wrote, “Because of Windows, people have become incredibly lazy. Flame me if you will, but think back to when offices were using [Windows] 3.11 and you had to manually install drivers, some programs, etc. Administrators were thriving in that type of environment. Now, you just turn the PC on, and it installs everything itself. There's no challenge to Windows anymore— it's turning into the AOL of OSs.”

Lee44 wrote, “It's a good point that from a tweaking [perspective], Windows is not the way to go. However, because of the technical level of the common user, if Linux distributors want to make a dent in office and home use, then you are eventually going to end up with a very Windows-like GUI in my opinion. I just hope that someone remembers the background of Linux and keeps writing kernels with the tech in mind.”

Jmhiner agreed that the Linux GUI has a ways to go and took issue with some of the arguments in the article about hardware incompatibilities in Linux.

“This was not referring to platforms such as PowerPC, Alpha, etc. as the author said, noting a contradiction to an earlier Microsoft statement. It was referring to video cards and NICs. In this area, Linux causes those of us who install it to lose a good deal of hair (some of us don't have a whole lot left). Finally, it's clear that Microsoft knows Linux poses a large threat for the future, and, as a previous comment stated, there's no question Linux is a foe and not a friend.”

“I instruct users and others in Microsoft apps and OSs, and if they were that user friendly, I'd not have a job.

“I have just finished delivering my first Linux modules. No more or no less intuitive, but definitely more fun. I did not, nor did my students, miss the blue screen of death or the memory faults.”

For his part, Digiryde wrote that Microsoft products are best used on the desktops where users are more tolerant of occasional rebooting and weekly crashes, in favor of a standard GUI.

“On the other side, though, a server needs to be robust, stable, and well- planned. This screams for Linux. From all of my work with different OSs (Mac, Novell, Microsoft, Linux, Sun OS) I have never seen a system as stable and robust as Un*x or Linux.”

FUD for thought
While there was some of the Microsoft bashing that typifies these arguments, it was interesting to see some computing history get injected into the discussion. For instance, TechRepublic member Tonyk used the acronym “FUD” in his comments. As you may know, FUD stands for the marketing concept of “fear, uncertainty, and doubt,” and former IBM engineer Gene Amdahl coined it to describe his former employer. Other TechRepublic members responded to Tonyk’s comments.

“Face it, the one thing [the author] illustrates more than anything is the Linux community's inability to grasp basic business concepts.
  1. FUD was not invented by Microsoft, nor is it its sole domain. Any cleanser commercial uses more FUD in 30 seconds than Microsoft ever has.
  2. When in trial, being accused of being ‘all there is,’ of course you're going to trot out the competition. Microsoft merely showed that there was potential there, that's what you do.”—Tonyk

“The Linux community grasps business concepts better than you think. What we have trouble with is why the masses flock like sheep to an inferior, buggy operating system.

“No, IBM invented FUD, but they have been reformed. Microsoft is successful because they have been able to destroy what they didn't buy.”

“I think you miss the point. Microsoft is showing two faces. On one hand, they show they are worried, and on the other they want their customers to not worry. I use both OSs. Each has a place and use for me.
Has the argument between Linux and Microsoft users changed because they are coexisting in more enterprises now? Are you using both platforms at your enterprise? Start a discussion below or send us a note.

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