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Unix vs Linux

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Steve Sauve
Frequent Advisor

Unix vs Linux

Hello all,
We use a mix of Unix (both HP-UX and Solaris) servers to run out main apps and databases. We also have a bunch of Linux systems running web apps. The question of "why not use Linux on our enterprise apps" has been raised.
So my question for all of you is where (and how high up) do you see Linux fitting into the IT environment and why? Also what (if any) factors would limit Linux from being the OS of choice on mission critical servers?
Thanks for any thoughts you might have.
Alexander M. Ermes
Honored Contributor

Re: Unix vs Linux

Hi there.
If you use Linux, you have one OS for most of your servers. You do not have to watch, what system you work on regarding to the things you are doing. If you have some peopel work on these servers, it it easier to train them with one OS than different slangs in different OS.
Sample : ls -l | pg on HP
ls | more on other systems.
Alexander M. Ermes
.. and all these memories are going to vanish like tears in the rain! final words from Rutger Hauer in "Blade Runner"
Tim Malnati
Honored Contributor

Re: Unix vs Linux

Mike McKinlay
Honored Contributor

Re: Unix vs Linux

I'll chime in on Tim's comments and offer of the following observations:

The question you posed was "Why not use LINUX instead?" I'd be interested in seeing the answers to the question, "Why use LINUX instead?" Those answers will likely develop the argument into a purely technical discussion. This is not the same as a business case discussion.

Can you run LINUX on your existing Sun and HP hardware? If not, you'll need to replace that hardware -- that's a hard sell to management, especially if the equipment isn't fully depreciated yet and/or not yet overextended beyond capacity.

Are you already experiencing problems with scalability, performance, reliability with your Sun and HP hardware and software? If not, you have a much harder sell to management -- what do they gain from replacing a system that's already working well?

Some other issues to consider:

How likely is it that your current vendors, Sun and HP, will exist in one year, five years? Given the current volatility in the Internet market, how likely is it that some flavors of LINUX will exist in five years? If you want some proof of the validity of this argument, go to your public library and look at PC World five years ago or ten years ago and see how many of those hardware vendors are still in business.

If you pick LINUX, which company will you pick? Mandrake? RedHat? Debian? Compile your own?

Oddly enough, IBM sees these questions not as a reason to resist LINUX but to embrace it. LINUX on an OS/390 system is a heckuva compelling platform.

In the words of an ancient mentor of mine, "What swamp are you trying to drain?" Pick your battles carefully -- management has a long, long memory.
"Hope springs eternal."
Steve Sauve
Frequent Advisor

Re: Unix vs Linux

Thanks for all the thoughts.
Actually I'm almost in the opposite position you are describing. Management is asking us something to the effect of "We've heard a lot about Linux, would it be a good solution for our higher end systems and if not then why not?". From my stand point I wouldn't mind using Linux, but I would want to be sure that it could handle the job (as you say management has long memories, though I'll add usually only when things go wrong :). I have yet to get a response that presents a strong case for using Linux in this type of mission critical environment. As can be expected I've seen a lot of Linux vs NT write ups, but have yet to find a Linux vs Unix write up.

Re: Unix vs Linux

The reason you see more Linux vs NT is because the two are can be more easily used in a similar environment, running on x86. Linux vs UNIX is a difficult one because of the hardware UNIX is run on, usually not x86. This is also the same reason you don't see many UNIX vs NT. I know MS likes to make the comparison and say NT is a viable platform to compete with UNIX, but I don't see how it can in some(most?) instances given it's limited high end hardware support and it's lagging 64bit support. I mean whens the last time you saw a single NT box that was as powerful as an N class? I also think Linux has an advantage over NT in this arena since you can say Linux is a "port" of UNIX and the major UNIX vendors are getting involved in it's developement, witness HP's involvement in PA RISC Linux. I also think you will see alot more involvement by the major UNIX vendors in terms of hardware developement since Intel and AMD are entering the 64bit arena. Which might be part of the motivation for the UNIX vendors getting involed.

The support issue is a sore one for Linux at this time because it is so new. This issue will disappear quickly I think and the lines between Linux and UNIX will blur. One major contributing factor to this, and one I'm surprised nobody has mentioned, is Caldera's purchase of SCO. You now have a Linux vendor who owns a traditional UNIX vendor, who was around 5 years ago, and it's support structure. I wonder what parts of SCO will "rub off" on Linux and vice versa?

Mike said he'd like to see answers to the question Why use Linux? Two answers are cost and flexibility. I used to work for a cellular company that developed an SMS service inhouse based on Linux because it was cheaper to have our engineers and programmers develope the system than get one off the shelf and we could put in the features we wanted. We had it tied into a K class and some NT boxes. Granted this may not be considered an "enterprise solution" and might even be off topic but it's an instance where Linux was the right tool for the job. We also used it for a VPN solution but thats anther story :-)

I'll take Tim's observation of Linux being an excellent utility OS one step further and say it makes excellent network glue.
There's nothing fdisk can't fix
Mike McKinlay
Honored Contributor

Re: Unix vs Linux

Bill makes a great point about the SCO acquisition by Caldera (though I wonder whether Ray Noorda's purchase of UNIX makes any more sense the second time around :). IBM's strong support for LINUX on their hardware adds additional weight to the argument.

On the darker side of the news, Corel's recent decision to sell off its LINUX group makes sense to those who believe they're deep in Microsoft's back pocket.

Understanding the question you've actually posed, your answer needs to consider:

"How much do we really save, given what we already own, what is already working, and what we need in the near future by going to LINUX? Sure, a 'free' OS sounds nice, but is it really free?"

Once the 2.4 kernel is widely available, I would anticipate a shakeout of at least a couple of the contending labels. Do you really want to be betting on a "sure thing" after the last nine months of dotcom meltdowns?

In other words, unless you can make a compelling reason to switch ... one that saves you money that you're otherwise spending on OSes and hardware ... I'd say this decision would be better made 6-12 months in the future, after the fallout. Time well-spent researching the existing players and their support options and making an informed choice that considers all the costs involved.

In my opinion, LINUX can probably do everything your old man's *NIX can do. That doesn't mean it should ...

"Hope springs eternal."
Tommy Palo
Trusted Contributor

Re: Unix vs Linux

What about your "main apps and databases" ?
Do they all come in certified Linux-versions for HP and/or Sun boxes ?, fully supported from the software vendors.
Keep it simple
Roberto Gallis
Regular Advisor

Re: Unix vs Linux

I think you have to be sure what is your budget...
minor budget -> linux on x86 platform
biggest budget -> unix on owned platform / MS NT/2000 on x86 platform