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Why use Linux?

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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
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.
Srimalik
Valued Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

hi,

The content should depend on the type of audience you are targeting

I will give some points to be told to students

Advantages

1) open source...great learning experience about the design & implementation of an OS
2) free of cost
3) a lot of online help available
4) easy to start with before actually starting on other professional flavours
5) runs on commonly available harware/ does not need specific architecture to run


Disadvantages:

1) performance is slightly lower than the other professional flavours ( HPUX/Solaris etc )

I can not think of any more disadvantages.


abandon all hope, ye who enter here..
Huc_1
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

Advantage:

. One can get/Read source of the code.

. Many a helping hand/minds around in forums (like this one)

. More Applications, every day and many more to come so should fill most environments/requirements.

. Ability to use older/used equipments

. Lots of distributions and vendors.

. I my opinion Cheaper and less licenses to keep track of.

Disadvantage:

. Need to double check HWare and driver for support.

. Clusters working well, but not there yet with the best (for me that is still OpenVMS).

. Still need to convince most that this is one of the best alternative (but this is changing day by day)

My humble contribution.

Jean-Pierre Huc
Smile I will feel the difference
Padma Asrani
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

Hi

Here are the advantages

--> Major advantage of the Linux Operating system is that it is stable and reliable. Linux Servers do not need to be rebooted frequently. Linux can also be upgraded without rebooting, making system maintenance easier.

--> Linux has excellent networking capabilities and supports most of the major network protocols. This makes it an ideal operating system for small office networks, home office networks and for servers, such as web or File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers.

--> Linux is a multiuser operating system. This means that several users can log into the same system at the same time. MACIS and windows are both single user operating systems.

--> Linux is also a multitasking operating system, which means that several operations can be run on a Linux System at the same time. Although the central processing unit can only process one task at a time but the operating system can manage tasks so that operations can run concurrently.

--> Linux uses a highly flexible window based graphical user interface (GUO) called X windows. The X windows is similar to Microsoft windows. However it is far more flexible and customizable

Regards
Padma
Court Campbell
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

>MACIS and windows are both single user operating systems.

I assume you mean Mac. I am sure that the people at Apple would be surprised to learn about this. Guess they might want to change the line "As a multiuser operating system" in this doc:

http://images.apple.com/macosx/pdf/MacOSX_UNIX_TB.pdf
"The difference between me and you? I will read the man page." and "Respect the hat." and "You could just do a search on ITRC, you don't need to start a thread on a topic that's been answered 100 times already." Oh, and "What. no points???"
Stuart Browne
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

MACOSX is definately not a single-user OS.

Their workstation (what most people see) is geared towards single users, but it's still basically BSD under-the-hood (which isn't single user by any stretch of the imagination).

OSX-Server is considerably less single-user oriented.
One long-haired git at your service...
dirk dierickx
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

"Disadvantages:

1) performance is slightly lower than the other professional flavours ( HPUX/Solaris etc )"

WHAT?! are you bonkers? compare linux x86(-64) with an HP or Solaris box with the same # CPU (with the same speed rating) and the same amount of RAM. you'll see linux blows it out of the water. Hell, don't believe me, compare them yourself.

You can do the test even on an intel box and Linux vs Solaris-x86 for a 100% fair comparison.

I think what you are reffering to is if you run linux on a standard intel box (1-2 cpu) with some monster of a Unix box with 4+ cpu's.

http://www.osnews.com/story.php/4867/Sun-Versus-Linux-The-x86-Smack-down/page3/
http://www.dbazine.com/olc/olc-articles/ault8
Stuart Browne
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

That brings up an interesting thought..

Has anybody read any performance comparisons between HP-UX and RHEL-AS on the same-spec Itanium hardware?

I'm sure HP would have done this at some point, but I've not come across it..

Anybody know of one?
One long-haired git at your service...
Srimalik
Valued Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

Once I tried to find out the performance difference between the two OSs on Itanium servers. Please see the link:

http://forums1.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/questionanswer.do?threadId=1079449

A summary collected from different sources said that :

On IA systems Linux's performance is not as good as HP-UX. the %age difference between the performace of two remains almost constant upto 32 processor machines(i.e you will get two parallel lines, the lower one for linux if a graph was drawn). but if you keep on increasing the number of processors the %age differences in performances increases as Linux does not scales up well as compared to HPUX on more than 32 processors.

you can also visit http://www.spec.org and http://tpc.org to find from published results.
abandon all hope, ye who enter here..
Stuart Browne
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

Oh, I like that spec.org site! It does show that HP-UX on RX2620's for 2 processors is slightly better (much to my chargin *boo!*), but that under Linux rendering and 3d-spacial stuff is better.

What is also highly interesting is that the HP-UX version was running with 32bit base & peak pointers, whereas Linux was using 64bit. But sadly, the areas I thought Linux would shine it, it was lacking.

But still, very informative benchmarks :) Thanks for the link!
One long-haired git at your service...
paolo barila
Valued Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

Advantage:

- Security1: in a open source environment security doesn't rely on hidden features but on Strength of Cryptographic Algorithms

- Security2: default installation disable "dangerous" services like telnet ftp

- Oracle: from 10G version, Oracle is developed on Linux, (before it was on Solaris), that is: Oracle works best on Linux.
share share share
bic
Occasional Visitor

Re: Why use Linux?

Java limitation on Windows is 1,792 megs of ram.

Linux none that I know of.
scanepa
Occasional Visitor

Re: Why use Linux?

I disegree with this point:

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

I installed Linux (Debian) over serial lines. Debian-installer's syslinux is configured to start over serial and when the network is up you can switch to ssh. I also have a headless Linux server with Mandriva, but, I must admit, I needed a monitor+keyboard to install it.

sc
Jeeshan
Honored Contributor

Re: Why use Linux?

Hi Ivan

Here i attached document of your relevant query.

It's a little bit explanatory.
a warrior never quits