What People Want
What is different, according to Engates, is what people want from the two operating systems. "In the traditional customer base for Linux, they tended to be people who wanted to get under the hood and tweak the dials. Theyre people who want to build a hot-rod race car. Microsoft users are more of a luxury-car owner who doesnt want to get his hands dirty. He just wants it to work." Thats changing, though."Were seeing a shift in the Linux enterprise market. Now, Linux customers also want to use Linux without getting their hands dirty," Engates said. At the same time, "some Windows customers are looking to Linux for application compatibility, cost savings or better performance."Click here to read about Red Hat topping its sales record. Lucky Linux users who dont want to know their chmod (a program that enables you to control file access) from their chown (a program that changes file ownership) now can have easy-to-manage systems, too. "Linux is now getting more and better network and system tools," Engates said. "You can now buy and build best-of-breed tools." So, what are the major differences today between Linux and Windows users? Linux users tend to be "people who do sites with high levels of transactions. The transactions may be simple, but they require lots of raw horsepower." For example, Rackspace hosts Atari, the old game company. Today its "still a gaming company, but its providing game downloads and live gaming," Engates said. "These require very high transaction speeds. Atari recently switched from Solaris to RHEL instead of Windows, [because] they found that Red Hat wins in term of high-volume content." People turn to Windows for "more complex sites with low transactions but high transaction complexity on the back end, such as online shopping carts. These tend to be built on .NET," he said. That said, "on Linux, while you need to go out and get a J2EE [Java 2 Enterprise Edition] Server, it can still be cheaper," Engates said. Finally, Engates said he has found that resellers and customers alike enjoy being able to use FrontPage extensions for simple, Windows-based Web sites. Both the studies and people in the field are finding that the "facts" about Linux are that its just as good a choice, if not better, than Windows. It really all depends on exactly what you need from your servers. eWEEK.com Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been working and writing about technology and business since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.