Why use Linux?

 
SOLVED
Go to solution
Ivan Ferreira
Honored Contributor

Why use Linux?

In one week, I have to do a presentation about Linux. My plan is to present it in 3 parts:

- Introduction, advantages, disadvantages.
- Demo installation, concepts, best practices.
- Some services that you can run with Linux.

Now, what I would like to know is your opinion about the first part, advantages and disadvantages of Linux. I have a list of them but I would like to know your point of view also.

Points for everyone with a "no" repeated advantage/disadvantage.

Other suggestions about the presentation are welcome.

Cheers.
Por que hacerlo dificil si es posible hacerlo facil? - Why do it the hard way, when you can do it the easy way?
22 REPLIES 22
Rob Leadbeater
Honored Contributor
Solution

Re: Why use Linux?

Hi Ivan,

Good question. Here's a few thoughts... I'm sure many others will pitch in !

Advantages
1) Can run on 'commodity' hardware, leading to lower costs.
2) Major application vendors (ie Oracle) now appear to be favouring Linux as (presumably) the development costs are lower. Consequently you get new versions of software for Linux a lot quicker than other OSs.
3) 'Community' support means that OS fixes tend to be quicker.

Disadvantages
1) Poor clustering, particularly when compared to Tru64/OpenVMS.
2) Lack of a good built in backup/recovery tool, like Tru64's vdump/vrestore.
3) Because it runs on 'commodity' hardware you can run into issues with hardware drivers etc.

I'll probably think of some more overnight !

Cheers,

Rob
Ivan Ferreira
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

>>> 1) Poor clustering, particularly when compared to Tru64/OpenVMS.

Partially agree, but yes, Red Hat Cluster Suite is not as good as TruCluster and is very far, far away from VMS.


>>> 2) Lack of a good built in backup/recovery tool, like Tru64's vdump/vrestore.

Partially agree. But until now I had no problems recovering Linux data with star, and some good software like mondo rescue will recover the system even in a cathastrophic failure with very nice additional features, like disk layout change, etc.

>>> 3) Because it runs on 'commodity' hardware you can run into issues with hardware drivers etc.

Agree. One of the biggest disadvantages for me is that if you have a "special" driver or module, and you upgrade the kernel, and if the new kernel does not already has that driver, you will have problems or extra job.
Por que hacerlo dificil si es posible hacerlo facil? - Why do it the hard way, when you can do it the easy way?
Heironimus
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

Advantages:

1. No (or few) ties to specific hardware vendors - buy what you like best, buy from the company that gives you the best deal, change vendors if they don't treat you right.

2. Open-source, no-cost licensing for base OS plus bundled software - you're usually paying for support, if you need/want it.

3. Works great in VMware - you can share infrastructure between Windows and Linux servers.

4. Potential "Swiss army knife" - if you have some crazy need that no big-name vendor will ever support, somebody's probably figured out how to do it with Linux and written a web page about it.

5. Most common kernel parameters (and a lot of not-so-common ones) can be changed without a reboot - compare that to HP-UX.

6. 64-bit experience - 64-bit may be new to PCs (AMD64 and EM64T), but Linux has been running on 64-bit Alphas for years and now supports several other 64-bit architectures. Personally, I find it easier to have confidence in an OS that's seen real use on 64-bit platforms than in one that just got ported a couple years ago.


Disadvantages:

1. No (or few) ties to specific hardware vendors - hardware, software, and OS vendors can and will point fingers at each other instead of helping you fix your problem.

2. Open-source, no-cost licensing for base OS plus bundled software - people don't try to understand it, legal departments object to the huge variety of different licenses in what they see as a single purchase.

3. You're generally stuck with VGA consoles and network KVMs instead of serial terminals - no real console logging, poor or no remote access. Even if you're lucky enough to get a serial terminal server you'll have to get on the VGA console for some hardware configuration or diagnostic CDs.

4. Companies like IBM and Oracle may have solid support, but other companies (names withheld to protect the guilty) put halfway-done products on the market just to be able to say "we support Linux" and fail to train their support staff.

5. Many people have unrealistic perceptions, even those who should know better - Linux is seen as just a toy by some, and as a "magic bullet" panacea by others.

6. Linux is orphaned in some environments - the UNIX admins don't want to deal with PC "junk", the PC group is mainly Windows support and can't manage anything else.
skt_skt
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

One of the main dis advantage is concering support for third part drivers.e.g:-We need to reinstall the power path software used for managing the storage disks.Same way need to reinstall the FC card driver(lpfc) after the kernel upgrade.

Not as stable as HP-UX.
Stuart Browne
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

There's different advantages for a workstation platform as against a server platform. Most listed here are for a server platform.

Advantages:

* It's mascot is a penguin :P

* TCO is usually on the lower side of the scale (Well, thats what I get from all the white papers I've read to pass the time).

* There's no 'black box' of hidden stuff. If a specific change needs to be made to a kernel, it can be done.

* Insanely customizable. It's not just limited to products or configurations that have been done in the past (although that certainly makes life easier). -- this is an expansion on the above Swiss Army Knife

* Speed. For the scale of machinery that Linux runs on, it's very quick. For specific tasks, this can be debated back and forth, but from my experience, Linux generally comes out ahead.

* Lower hardware resources required.

Can be both an Advantage and Disadvantage:

* Software Availability. The major's are playing ball these days (as mentioned above), but there's still alot of products missing a major backer.

Disadvantage:

* Maturity. It's growing fast, but the 'mature' enterprise releases are a behind in terms of advanced-features (LVM mirroring, crash diagnosis, easy-serial-consoles etc.).

* Scalability. There are times when having 100 machines perform a task is good, and others where only 1 machine is good. On the larger scales of equipment (S370 type of thing), Linux is still fairly immature. It's SMP abilities are growing fast, but are still flawed.

.. anyway, just a few quick thoughts ..
One long-haired git at your service...
Steven E. Protter
Exalted Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

Shalom,

Advantages:
1) Lower cost (not really free)
2) Runs on less expensive hardware.
3) 2 million people working to improve its components. More resources than Microsoft.
4) A release cycle at least twice as fast as Microsoft Windows.

Disadvantages:
1)Very poor quality control at certain Linux vendors. Not up to for example HP-UX standards.
2)Greedy attitude at certain vendors that try to twist customers into paying for something they can't sell the software.
4)Lack of ISV support for major application. Many times in RL the only reason they run windows is the ISV won't release a Linux version. There is an economic issue there, how can they make it economically feasible.

Sorry if there are repeats, I didn't bother to read the other posts.

SEP
Steven E Protter
Owner of ISN Corporation
http://isnamerica.com
http://hpuxconsulting.com
Sponsor: http://hpux.ws
Twitter: http://twitter.com/hpuxlinux
Founder http://newdatacloud.com
Geetha_1
Regular Advisor

Re: Why use Linux?

To avoid repetition...the advantages are the same as many mentioned.

We chose a 64-bit Itanium platform to run Linux.
The disadvantages we are seeing are as compared to hp-ux are:

1. No easy to install & run software for mirroring, and creating boot image (Ignite). There may be tools in the market, but they are not very well tested for each platform and it takes too much time to configure and get it to work. Cost savings in hardware and software is often spent in installation and troubleshooting. Not enough support available.

We've had plenty of problems in configuring backups. BrightStor's ARCServe although certified for 64-bit Linux simply won't run on our platform. It is probably much better to go for a 32-bit Linux platform.

Advantages: Many of the utilities and tools that you install for system administration on other OSs come bundled with Linux. eg. lsof etc.

Geetha.
Tony Berry
Valued Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

There are a lot of good responses here. I briefly read over them, but I might have missed a fine point or two. Sorry if I duplicate anyone else's answers.

1) I happen to think that the learning curve for a KDE/Gnome GUI system is shorter than each successive Windows release. The actions in X remain consistent across versions whereas Windows seems to change. People seem to think Windows is easier, but that's because they have more time behind the mouse on a Windows system. Given equal time on both systems, I think X would prove to be easier to learn and effectively use.

2) Customizibility in Linux is unparalleled. You can remove as many components, or as few, as you'd like during the install. The removes drive clutter, desktop clutter, and open holes in your system for security purposes. It also reduces the size of system being installed on... drive space, CPU, memory, power consumption is all reduced. This helps keep useful hardware out of the landfill. The environmental effects of computers are rarely looked at, but should be heavily considered.

3) One of the biggest drawbacks, and this is mainly applicable to the desktop users, is software installation. I can't tell you the number of times I've flat out given up on trying to solve dependencies when installing new applications and I consider myself to be a seasoned Linux user. I can't imagine a standard end user trying to install something... anything.

4) People keep mentioning costs involved. I've found that to have a comparable Linux product to a comparable Windows product, you need to go with a large vendor. I'll use the RedHat distribution as an example. RedHat offers the RedHat Network to control patches, bug releases, and upgrades. It is fairly comparable to Windows and the Windows Update site. I've found that by time you purchase RedHat Workstation and RHN support, you aren't saving much (if anything) over Windows XP or Vista. The only nice thing is, YOU decide what you want to buy with Linux. With Windows, you are buying everything all inclusive.

There's many angles to look at it all and the zealots on both sides will exist forever. I know where my allegiance lies and I'm quite happy with my decisions.
Unix is boss.
dirk dierickx
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

some replies to others first;

"1) Poor clustering, particularly when compared to Tru64/OpenVMS."

it can run commericial cluster packages like serviceguard or Veritas Cluster Server.

"2) Lack of a good built in backup/recovery tool, like Tru64's vdump/vrestore."

then use a non-built in tool, just like with clusters a lot of stuff is available outside what comes with a standard distro

"3) Because it runs on 'commodity' hardware you can run into issues with hardware drivers etc."

that is why you need to check which HW is supported, common sense to me. but true, if you blindly purchase HW you _will_ run into problems.

"3. You're generally stuck with VGA consoles and network KVMs instead of serial terminals - no real console logging, poor or no remote access. Even if you're lucky enough to get a serial terminal server you'll have to get on the VGA console for some hardware configuration or diagnostic CDs."

if you go for HP machines, i recommend ILO, which allows you access to the console from the network, solving the above problem.

My disadvantage of linux is that HW problem troubleshooting is hard to do. there is not really a diagnostics system available that works. so, sometimes when you have a machines with a HW fault, it can be that the vendor also doesn't have a clue and it takes a while before they find the part causing the problems. (example - we had a failing FCA, so it gets replaced but the problem remains exactly the same. as it turns out, it was a RAM problem and after replacing that all was fine).

So the advantages for me are:
- for admins it is a better unix environment. it is more modern, and effort is done to have a working environment with a lot of tools available.

- package management is great! as long as you have a dependency resolver available, but each present distro has it, there is nothing beating package management on linux. patches are clear, it works fast, easy to use, etc.

- you get a lot out of the box. it is a complete package, ofcourse you can still add (commercial) stuff but you will almost always find something that does what you are locking for. example - ethernet bonding is included, on HPUX it is an extra package you need to pay for.

- big linux community. might not matter to managers, but it matters to admins.

i can make up other stuff, but others have already mentioned a lot.