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Microsoft Windows versus Linux TCO, part 11

Though we live and work in a Windows world, readers say Linux is worth a look, if only for the lack of licensing issues.

In the latest batch of letters in the Windows versus Linux TCO debate, readers suggest IT pros (and their clients) take a look at Linux solutions. Users and businesses that run Linux experience fewer bugs and less downtime, of course, they say. But a bigger selling point might be the absence of Microsoft licensing costs and bureaucracy. If they take a look at Linux, these readers say, IT pros -- and their customers -- might be pleasantly surprised.

This series of letters was touched off by SearchWindowsManageability's article about Microsoft's TCO study and a >Q&A interviewwith Microsoft executive Peter Houston, in which Houston offered details about Microsoft's decision to present more rational argument against Linux.

Bugs 'r us

Submitted by Jeffrey Small:

I am an independent consultant with 20 years of experience with Unix, Windows, DOS, OS2, Netware and other OSes. It takes longer to resolve a Windows problem than any other OS I know, and that increases TCO.

I don't believe a rational and comprehensive study would find Windows has a lower TCO than Linux. Downtime is a key factor.

On my last project, I made the mistake of agreeing to a fee-for-service contract with Windows as the OS of choice for the server and the clients. I have done this with Linux many times, and I knew better to accept such a Windows contract. What a mistake. XP's networking protocols and bugs increased implementation time to the point where I lost money on the project. A two-week implementation ended up taking six weeks.

People talk about a lack of affordable support for Linux. That has changed over the last couple years, and much of it is perception rather than reality. I can get answers to Linux questions in just a couple hours on Usenet. I have yet to get through to Microsoft technical support about anything. I charge my clients extra for Windows support.

With open source software, when I get an error, I can look at the source and see what's causing the error. With Windows, not only can I not see the code, many times I don't really have a clue as to what the error means because Microsoft tries to "dumb down" the OS.

Linux deserves a good look

Submitted by M. Cottingham:

Both platforms have TCO. However, TCO, as mentioned before, does not necessarily mean money.

A few months ago I filled in at a local company while they beta tested software and did training. I helped take care of system and network problems. They had both *nix and Windows servers.

I experienced more downtime with Windows servers and machines than the *nix platform. Just about every time a patch came out from Microsoft, we had to reboot the server(s) and machines. That meant lost time and money for the company.

The *nix servers only went down when there was a power problem. The adage is quite true: Lost time equals lost profit.

Then you take in to account licensing. Microsoft licensing issues are difficult. Many state and country government institutions are moving to Linux because it's cheaper, especially in the education sector, where money is often tight.

Why? They don't have to worry about Microsoft licensing.

Linux, if anything, at least deserves a good look. I think many people will be quite surprised.

Just copy it

Submitted by Guy Rich:

Our company is seriously looking at Linux as an option for our customers (small- to medium-sized businesses) for servers (Web, e-mail, database, file and print).

We want to provide a Linux server/Windows 2000 client solution.

Linux, with its powerful command line interface, allows one to easily manage multiple images and configurations. The environment is more secure.

Using Winbatch can be problematic. Registry management is tricky. Microsoft is still hung up on GUI for servers. A GUI is fine for desktop users (graphical USER interface, remember), but it's wasted on servers.

Also, Linux licensing is much cheaper!

I still have a hard time explaining to some of my customers about licensing. Some customers feel that because they paid $1,500 or more for Small Business Server they should be able to copy it. They feel it's theirs. I sternly warn them against this. However, Linux doesn't have such an issue.


Running Windows applications on Linux could lower TCO

Microsoft: Linux looks cheap at first, but the costs come later

Microsoft: It's time to deal with Linux, not deny it

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