Study Pits Windows Versus Linux

 
 
By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-11-28
 
 
 

Microsoft Corp., continuing its anti-Linux campaign, recently released the results of a study the company commissioned in an effort to show that Windows is more reliable than Linux.

The study, conducted by Herbert Thompson, chief security strategist at Security Innovation Inc., of Wilmington, Mass., and titled "Reliability: Analyzing Solution Uptime as Business Needs Change," compared two platforms—Microsofts Windows Server System and Novell Inc.s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server—under evolving business requirements over an extended period of time. Interestingly, Thompson made clear that neither the study nor its findings are final or conclusive but rather a starting point for further work.

Thompson said the study pitted Windows 2000 Server against SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8, simulating the one-year period from July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2005. "During this period, we simulated the evolution of an e-commerce company that has changing business requirements while continuing to maintain security through patch application. At the end of the period, both systems are then transitioned to the more recent versions of their respective operating systems, Windows Server 2003 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9," he said in the summary.

Security patches were applied in one-month increments, while new business requirements appeared at three-month intervals. The experiment was conducted by three expert Windows administrators and three expert SUSE Linux administrators.

The study considered one evolution scenario: an e-commerce company that must move its site from basic purchasing to a personalized, history-driven portal. The results of this initial study showed some interesting patterns, Thompson said in the report. "On the Linux side, each administrator pursued vastly different paths to resolve dependency conflicts that arose when new components were installed. The result was solutions that grew in complexity and heterogeneity rapidly over time," he said.

During the experiment, all Windows administrators followed a fairly homogeneous route to both install patches and apply component upgrades for the simulated changing business requirements, Thompson said in the report.

Officials at Novell, of Waltham, Mass., said the report aimed to confuse the market about the value of Linux and downplay the various reliability, security and TCO (total cost of ownership) issues Windows users face. But Ryan Gavin, Microsofts director of platform strategy, defended the study. "There is a big need for a larger understanding of how we think and talk about reliability and to have a consistent dialogue about what things matter when you are talking about a reliable system," Gavin said.

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