Which System Is Safer

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-11-08 Print this article Print

?"> Citing another report—from Forrester Research Inc., of Cambridge, Mass.— Ballmer said that "the four major Linux distributions have a higher incidence and severity of [security] vulnerabilities, and are slower than Microsoft to provide security updates."

However, Novells Hogan said, Ballmer failed to mention that the Forrester study found Microsoft had the highest number of critical flaws. Some 67 percent of Windows flaws had been rated "critical" under the National Institute of Standards and Technologys ICAT project standard for high-severity vulnerabilities, Hogan said. This compared with 63 percent for (pre-Novell) SuSE Linux, 60 percent for Mandrakesoft, 57 percent for Debian and 56 percent for Red Hat Inc., he said.

Some Windows users said that Microsofts actions—or, rather, inaction—speak louder than words when it comes to promises to fix security vulnerabilities in the companys computing platform. "We run machines with XP and others running Linux," said an IT manager who requested anonymity, when asked if Windows is more secure than Linux. "The Windows machines cant be on the Internet 2 minutes before being infected by some computer virus or spyware. The Linux machines have no protection and no such infections. So which is safer?"

Some in the IT field say that the more Microsoft bad-mouths Linux while at the same time delaying the release of its own products, the more users will evaluate Linux and other open-source solutions. John Kretz, president of Enlightened Point Consulting Group LLC, in Phoenix, said that in SuSE Linux, Novell now has an open-source operating system with a "great grass-roots support effort in the open-source community. Novell has great directory and identity products, and SuSE is a great platform to help get Novells other products in the door at customer sites. They have a window of opportunity against Microsoft now that Longhorn is delayed until 2007."

Novell should "strike now while the customer base is in flux," Kretz said.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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