Developers Believe in Linux Security

Analysts and coders weigh the relative security of Windows XP and Linux following release of a recent survey.

In a recent survey, software developers said they view Linux as more secure than Windows XP for building and deploying applications.

The survey, conducted by Evans Data Corp., Santa Cruz, Calif., showed that developers view Linux as "the most innately secure operating system. In fact, the percentage of developers who said so increased to 23 percent, up from 19 percent six months ago.

Meanwhile, according to the same survey, fewer developers said they believe Windows XP to be the most secure operating system. The number of developers who said they view Windows XP as most secure dropped from 14 per-cent six months ago to eight percent currently—a drop of more than 40 percent.

According to Evans Data, which has been conducting its North American Development Surveys twice annually since 1998, developer confidence in Linux has increased by 90 percent since 1998. In a survey the company conducted in the fall of 1998, only 34 percent of developers polled said they thought Linux was an optimal system for enterprise applications, compared to 64 percent today.

In a statement, Esther Schindler, a senior analyst at Evans, said: "Its not at all surprising that Linux is viewed as more secure by software developers. Windows has had nearly weekly critical security updates from Microsoft, and three of four developers target Windows."

However, Hans Bader, an infra-structure architect with Prometric, a Baltimore-based technology-enabled testing and assessment services firm, said, "I dont think Linux is more secure. If there were as many copies of Linux in the field as there are Windows there would probably be as many security holes. With open source, there is the possibility there could be even more." Bader said he could not speak for his company overall, but that these were his personal views. Prometric is a unit of The Thomson Corp., Stamford, Conn.

"Linux is inherently more secure than Windows by a dramatic margin," said Nicholas Petreley, an Evans Data analyst.


Petreley said "Windows XP started making decent progress separating out the privileges to be more like Unix so that youre not as likely to gain complete control over a server if you break one of its services. But its still not there yet for various reasons."

Meanwhile, the Evans Data survey showed that more developers are warming to open-source technology. In the spring of 2001, 38 percent of developers surveyed said they used open source software. Yet, today 62 percent said they use it in developing applications.


Also, according to the survey the three most sought after features for Java tools were Web services support, profilers and optimization tools and Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) frameworks.

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