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is linux stable/reliable enough ?

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Van den Broeck Tijl
Valued Contributor

Re: is linux stable/reliable enough ?

As Court Campbell said, usually with these "big boy" OS's there is a very limited hardware list to support while linux tries to support a variety of HW platforms. But if you feel endangered of sloppy/cheap hardware you can always step up your hardware a notch (Linux on Integrity/PA-RISC and even zSeries), but many people do not consider this option as cheap boxes in a cluster are in most cases equally viable (perhaps even more interesting in eliminating SPOF's).

I think in stability Linux has a major plus in it's being "open" and errors are traceable for everyone. We came across a nasty SCSI controller bug running Linux on a PA-RISC. In HP-UX it was hushed away, but Linux spewed the syslog about SCSI speed falling back. Appeared to be a buggy SCSI controller firmware. All fine, but why didn't the HP-UX driver complain about this? You can't solve the problem if you don't even know it even exists. (We double checked it on another PA-RISC, same firmware and such).

Sure, there might be requirements which can't be made, but then you're probably looking way up in costs (and likely out of the Unix-world in general).
John Collier
Esteemed Contributor

Re: is linux stable/reliable enough ?

Based on the wide variety of responses you have above, I probably shouldn't chime in here. It will probably sound like a repeat. Of course, that hasn't stopped me before!

I think you have way too many variables to be able to answer a question like this.

What's it for?
How important is it?
What will you do with it?
What expectations do you have?
What needs are you trying to fill?

On a personal level, it has been invaluable in my house as router/firewall/proxy. It runs on hardware that would otherwise be considered a doorstop or boat anchor to most and it runs constantly without fail. Good enough? By all means, YES.

As a desktop in our personal environment, it has even converted my wife (although she will never admit it out loud!) to the point where she would rather use it than her brand new notebook computer with the latest Micro$oft offering. She said as much to me just last night. Good enough for her? Again, YES.

My daughter wants her new computer to be Linux. She has watched both her mother and I using it and has decided that she doesn't really care that much about the old PC games she has. She would rather have something she knows will work. The experiment is still in play, but..... Good enough for her... TBA.

The company I get a paycheck from uses it as their front-line web interface for customer sales. It is not considered general knowledge, but a majority of the money that comes into the company comes through some form of Linux or another. Good enough for their purpose? Must be or they would have changed it! They surly have the money to do so if they wish.

There is a very large and well known search engine out there on the 'Net that, at one time, boasted about their primary in-house servers for their web crawlers and databases being run on Linux clusters in various parts of the world. I have not been back to their company site for quite some time to see if they still brag of this or not, but it made a heck of an impression on me when I read it and I will never forget it. It was one of the things that pushed me to learn more about Linux in general. Good enough for them? Apparently it was (and hopefully still is).

The issue of hardware reliability has been brought up. Valid argument, but I think we are all mature and intelligent enough to know that we pretty much get what we pay for. If we go for bargain basement hardware, we will get bargain basement reliability. Of course, we can get a LOT of hardware for a fairly small price. This drives up the reliability/stability of the clustered OS environment even if the hardware is failing more often.

More money for better hardware = more stability/reliability for both. No surprise there.

Software is always an issue for any OS. Do your homework for Linux as you would with any other and you should get similar results.

How does it compare to the 'Major Players' on the 'Heavy Metal'?

Personally, I would put many of the Corporate Linux versions up against several of the Heavy Hitting Unix distros. Of course, I would have taken the time to tailor the kernel and tune the Linux cluster prior to putting them up against each other. Surprised? Shouldn't be. As it was said earlier, Linux is by default trying to be nice to many different types of hardware. If you don't plan on having it on many different types of hardware, slim it down and personalize it. That's what it's for.

Many of the people from the UX side of this forum will argue with me on this. Clay (who has publicly bragged about having at least one server up for literally YEARS), Steven, Pete, and I'm sure many more, will all bring up valid arguments about how their UX is stronger and more reliable. Of course, it has already been mentioned that they have specific hardware and a more controlled environment to develop for. They don't need the flexibility because their environment is fairly static. Of course, it is also a closed source corporate environment. Hmmm...

However, it is the redwood that snaps in the strong winds and the willow that continues to survive and thrive. Linux is our willow. If you see something that doesn't stack up to the Big Boys, then send that issue to the community. They have a sense of pride (and arrogance in some instances) and they will usually step up the plate in a much quicker time frame.

So, is Linux as stable/secure/reliable as [insert OS here}? Is it good enough?

Again, for who? For what? According to whom?

For some of us, the answer is a resounding YES. For others....

Of course, that is just my $.02
Your mileage may vary...
"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." Stephen Krebbet, 1793-1855
John Collier
Esteemed Contributor

Re: is linux stable/reliable enough ?

PS> I'm still waiting to see how strong of a wind it will take to actually snap a well maintained HP-UX box. I'm afraid it might rip the very fabric of time!

However the analogy is a valid one in my mind either way.
"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." Stephen Krebbet, 1793-1855