Linux Industry Know-how and FAQ


Linux is the fastest growing OS on the planet with estimated number of users over 20 millions and 27% of server market by the end of 2000. What is the driving force behind Linux? Cost, business, background technologies, culture, or hype? In fact, all mentioned above.


Well, everyone say that Linux is free. After all, what does it mean - free? It does not mean free bear, however, it means that everyone have right to install and use Linux on as many computers as he want, everyone is free to modify and customize Linux for its own specific needs without fear of violating damn stupid license agreement. In return, all changes and modifications made must be available back to community at the same licensing terms.

Business on free software? Sounds like nonsense!

Linux people do not sell software, they sell professional services and solutions. In reality, if some basic software is free, it does not mean that it can be used by the end user "as is". The Linux industry is about to sell customized turnkey solutions without extra fees for closed and proprietary technologies, which have certain chances to become orphaned when manufacturer faces financial problems or falls under acquirement and/or restructuring.

Year subscription to Linux distribution usually costs around $250 - $350. Its more expensive than retail Windows box!

Wrong arithmetic. First of all, you can just download and use all this software for free, without purchasing retail box and subscription - its completely legal. Second, you can install what you have bought for $250 on as many computers as you want. Third, you will not have any limitation for number of connected users. Forth, this price include 30 - 90 days of installation support for each issue.

Linux maintenance cost twice as high compared to Windows NT

Installation and first-time configuration might be, especially if it is done by person without UNIX background. Once installed, Linux do not need to be upgraded, except rare cases of bug/security fixes and replacement of hardware. Anyway, Linux initial cost (cost of distribution plus cost of installation and first-time configuration) still much less than price of Windows NT or Novell, notably for large number of concurrent users.

Linux is not backed up by powerful company

Great. It means Linux never will be orphaned. It is open-source OS, nobody owns Linux on exclusive basis. Tens of Linux companies may go out of business (and actually gone), but it will not have any significant impact on the development and market situation.

Many people tried Linux and then threw it away

At this moment Linux is mostly a server OS, or OS for specialized needs, it is barely usable by ordinary users. Situation is quickly improving, however.

Is Linux a poor man server OS?

It is server OS for wise man, who can count money with no regard to marketing and propaganda crap.

Do top-level hardware manufacturers support Linux?

Yes. Only IBM alone is going to invest $1.3 billion in Linux software in 2001. Other strong Linux supporters are Compaq (#1 PC manufacturer), Oracle (#1 database and #2 software company), Intel and Motorola.

Corel is gone from Linux business. Somewhat disturbing fact.

Not at all. Corel's own products always suffered from bloated code and nasty bugs (if they wouldn't, Corel won't face longtime financial problems). The only good products sold by Corel are photo CD collections and software acquired from MetaCreations (Painter, KPT Bryce, etc.). Corel's flagship product, drawing and illustration package called CorelDraw lost to Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia Freehand. Corel Linux actually is a Debian Linux repackaged to be easy for beginners and never gained expected popularity. Debian people currently working on project called Progeny aimed for home market.

Linux technical support resources are scarce and problematic

Nonsense. Linux is no questions the first when it comes to technical support, either free via mailing lists and newsgroups either commercial. Again, at this time Linux is OS mostly suitable for use by professionals.

Linux GUI sucks

It depends. Taste is not subject of discussion, as says old Russian proverb. Linux is mostly a server OS, and the objective of server OS is to provide fast, reliable, crash proof access to the shared resources. In fact, even if server OS does not have a GUI at all, no users except system administrator even will notice that.

What about MacOS X Server?

You can find comparison between Linux and MacOS X Server here.

What are advantages of Linux as server platform?

In fact, its impossible to list all. Here are the most important (in no particular order):

  1. Linux is very powerful and flexible foundation for almost any kind of server, either Internet (WEB, FTP, mail, news, firewall, routing, DNS, sound/video streaming); either workgroup (Windows/Mac/Novell/UNIX file sharing, SQL database hosting, print&fax services); either combination of any mentioned above with no per-user and/or per-server licensing fees in most cases.
  2. Support for almost all hardware platforms: DEC/Compaq ALPHA, IBM RS, Intel x86 and compatible, Intel IA64, Mac PowerPC, Mac 68k, SGI MIPS, SUN SPARC.
  3. Open source software development model allows to accumulate enormous intellectual resources from all the world.
  4. Linux is very fast evolving OS - updates for particular software packages, bug and security fixes appear within few days or even hours.
  5. Properly installed and configured Linux runs on the good-quality hardware very fast and reliable for years without a single restart.
  6. Many Linux components may be installed, upgraded, or deleted without shutdown/restart of the server and disturbing running services.
  7. Kernel 2.4 allow to deploy Linux on wide range of hardware ranging from 16-CPU SMP systems to the embedded platforms (embedded microprocessors account 90% of all microprocessor sales).
  8. Linux supports high-performance crash-proof journaling file system (ReiserFS, SGI XFS, IBM JFS, Ext3), which records all operations in a log file. In case of failure (e.g. power outage) all unfinished changes will be discarded with no damage to stored data. Forget about disk recovery utilities once and forever.
  9. Logical Volume Manager (LVM) allows to combine multiple storage devices into huge data repository; and build instantaneous snapshots for consistent backup from very busy servers without shutting down running applications and services for a long time needed to copy and archive large amount of data.
  10. Software RAID Level 0,1 and 5 support.
  11. Linux supports all industry standard file systems and many others used by third party operating systems: FAT, VFAT, NTFS, HPFS, HFS, ISO 9660, UDF, UFS, VxFS, etc.
  12. What about antivirus software? Linux do not hosts viruses, Linux provides security against various types of network attacks and worms.
  13. Linux hosts enormous number of programming languages compilers and interpreters, development tools, class libraries, databases, both open source and commercial.
  14. Linux runs MacOS and Windows under emulation environment on PowerPC and x86 based hardware respectively.
  15. Huge choice of high-quality yet affordable priced hardware.

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