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Best commercial UNIX/LINUX that is modern?

I suppose what I'm looking for is concise pro's and con's reguarding commercial (paid for) modern linux/unix for business.  What has the potential to outperform windows on intel hardware for normal office needs.
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carl_legere
Asked:
carl_legere
6 Solutions
 
pjedmondCommented:
Normal Office needs? Server or Workstation?

Workstation:

The key thing here is staff familiarity. They are more likely to be familiar with windows. Ubuntu and Lindows and a few other distros are becoming more friendly, but gaining familiarity costs time (and hence money)

Open Office and other applications are available 'free' for *nix, but are not always as fully integrated and fully featured. Then again very few people use the full office functionality.

Specialist applications are available on Windows only platforms. Wine and Crossover will enable you to run some, but not all applications, but some may still need to run on a Windows Application Terminal Server.

Overall, I think that at the moment, windows wins in this area due to the retraining requirements, and the fact that many custom/specialist applications are tied to windows.

Server:

Costs of server software make a significant impact in any companies IT budget. Here Linux is a clear winner if open source software is used.

Performance of many applications is can be made better on a *nix platform than a Windos platform as the GUI can be disabled. An exception that I've found here is that 'default' IIS performs better than 'default' apache. However apache makes up for this when flexibility is required.

Cost of sysadmins - Apparently *nix sysadmins are more expensive than their M$ counterparts...but I'm sure that we make up for it in respect of our greater skill set;) Most of us...well at least I can....look after Windows servers as well.
Unless you have at least 4 or 5 *nix servers, you can't justify a dedicated *nix sysadmin.

Insurance - Some insurance firms dislike 'non-standard' operating systems such as linux. Going with RedHat EL may satisfy them, but personally I dislike the thought of paying a huge maintenance contract. - I'd rather get paid it:)

For standard (Webserver/mailserver/fileserver) server combinations, I think that Linux (particularly the RHEL clones) are the way to go and is capable of providing a better solution that the equivalent windows setup at a much lesser cost. For your scenario, you need to jsutify the costs involved in both cases and see where it leads.

I'm sure that many people will post costing whitepapers comparing windows with linux. I will not, as there is almost always an ulterior motive behind the study. In my experience I'd consider Linux to be the better server in most cases where it is suitable, and Windows to be the better client in most places...but Linux is starting to catch up on the desktop

(   (()
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carl_legereAuthor Commented:
Don't hestitate to name-drop new names that I've not heard of.  For example I just found out about Mephis, which looks viable as a windows replacment.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
over a year ago, eweek did a nice little comparison of RHEL 4 (I think - may have been 3) and Solaris 10.  Besides a few commands on my past company's server, I've not really used solaris all that much.  But the review, especially detailing its virtualization technologies SOUNDED really impressive in Solaris.
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pjedmondCommented:
Memphis is a very nice distro from the presentation perspective.

http://linuxmafia.com/faq/RedHat/rhel-forks.html

gives a number of RHEL forks - I recommend either CentOS, LEL, Whitebox as they are direct clones of Redhat Enterprise Linux and are excellent candidates if you are looking for a Linux server distro as they benefit from the stability and the extended support provided by Redhat as binaries are interchangeable.

http://distrowatch.com/index.php

is an useful link if you'd like to have a look at what distros are out there.......or of course you could always create your own?;)

      
Comment from pjedmond
Date: 07/04/2006 08:33PM BST
      Your Comment       

Normal Office needs? Server or Workstation?

Workstation:

The key thing here is staff familiarity. They are more likely to be familiar with windows. Ubuntu and Lindows and a few other distros are becoming more friendly, but gaining familiarity costs time (and hence money)

Open Office and other applications are available 'free' for *nix, but are not always as fully integrated and fully featured. Then again very few people use the full office functionality.

Specialist applications are available on Windows only platforms. Wine and Crossover will enable you to run some, but not all applications, but some may still need to run on a Windows Application Terminal Server.

Overall, I think that at the moment, windows wins in this area due to the retraining requirements, and the fact that many custom/specialist applications are tied to windows.

Server:

Costs of server software make a significant impact in any companies IT budget. Here Linux is a clear winner if open source software is used.

Performance of many applications is can be made better on a *nix platform than a Windos platform as the GUI can be disabled. An exception that I've found here is that 'default' IIS performs better than 'default' apache. However apache makes up for this when flexibility is required.

Cost of sysadmins - Apparently *nix sysadmins are more expensive than their M$ counterparts...but I'm sure that we make up for it in respect of our greater skill set;) Most of us...well at least I can....look after Windows servers as well.
Unless you have at least 4 or 5 *nix servers, you can't justify a dedicated *nix sysadmin.

Insurance - Some insurance firms dislike 'non-standard' operating systems such as linux. Going with RedHat EL may satisfy them, but personally I dislike the thought of paying a huge maintenance contract. - I'd rather get paid it:)

For standard (Webserver/mailserver/fileserver) server combinations, I think that Linux (particularly the RHEL clones) are the way to go and is capable of providing a better solution that the equivalent windows setup at a much lesser cost. For your scenario, you need to jsutify the costs involved in both cases and see where it leads.

I'm sure that many people will post costing whitepapers comparing windows with linux. I will not, as there is almost always an ulterior motive behind the study. In my experience I'd consider Linux to be the better server in most cases where it is suitable, and Windows to be the better client in most places...but Linux is starting to catch up on the desktop

(   (()
(`-' _\
 ''  ''
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pjedmondCommented:
Sorry - cut and paste went a bit wrong there!
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engineer_dellCommented:
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GinEricCommented:
Generally you use Unix or Linux as a server and it serves Windows workstations.  This avoids all staff familiarity problems.  Unix and Linux are servers, not workstations.

The more GUI [Graphical User Interface] any software is, the harder it is to configure.  So the more "gooey" the distribution, the greater the configuration problems are going to be.  Simply because gooey wizards are incapable of adapting; there workings are set in stone and if anything goes wrong you'll spend hours trying to find out what it is and then how to fix it or work around it.  The greatest advanatage of Unix and Linux are that they are commandline and text file configurable.

There are thousands more programs available in Open Source than there are in proprietary programs such as Windows.  Often, these far outperform proprietary programs.  One look at Gimp would quickly convince you that it has it all over the Windows graphics programs.  And these can also be installed to Windows workstations.

Most of the information about the various distributions is dated.  The wiki is extremely dated, bloated, and a lot of it is flat out wrong.

The real difference in Unix or Linux for business is the support.  For example, with Solaris you're going to get support, but it will cost a little higher than the so-called commercial Linuxes.  Still, Unix is about 20 years ahead of Linux.  But the commercial Linux distributions also offer support packages and that's what you pay for.

In a small business, if you use Unix or Linux, you should probably have Windows workstations and at least one Linux Server wouldn't hurt.  In a medium business it generally is this type of hybrid because they generally have some mainframes around.  In a large business, such as Microsoft, AOL, and the like, they defininitely have mainframes running either Unix or Linux or both.  That's because Windows doesn't run on mainframes.

The current trend is to consider first using 64-bit systems; this cuts out more than a few distributions.  So, rather than which distribution to use, first consider what the hardware is going to be in a year or two.  This will narrow down the choices quite a bit.

But you're better off planning a hybrid system now and not just sticking to Unix/Linux or Windows.  Remember that Unix and Linux are servers, which means, if you deployed them across workstations all of your employees would effectively have a server at their desk.  You don't really want them to have a machine equivalent to your company server.
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ridCommented:
I'd like to add a comment from the end user's point of view... Sitting at my office desk doing normal office things on my SUSE 9.1 laptop, I can only  say that this machine does not "outperform" similar worstations that run windows, not in each individual instant/task/process it doesn't. But if I take a broader look at the situation over time, I'd be prepared to bet this machine has been the one with its uptime spent the most productively. No crashes, no AV software hassle... and the cost for the O/S and StarOffice is about a tenth of the equivalent MS products. Perhaps "outperform" is the word, in a broad sense.
/RID
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drunknmunky1Commented:
Don't forget that on a Linux Server, if there is a need for Windows applications, you can always install a Windows Virtual Machine.  At my company we have 1 BSD server, 1 Ubuntu server, 2 Mandriva servers, 2 Netware 6.5 servers and 2 windows 2003 servers.  Quite the variety for a medium sized business.  On one of the Linux Servers we have 2 virtual machines running (from www.vmware.com).  These work quite well and allow us to essentially run 3 server applications on 1 machine.  The machine is not overly powerful either, with 2.8 GHz P4, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB HD.  With something like this you can get both a Windows Server running in the virtual machine a linux server running on the machine itself.  Since Linux is more stable, it is generally a good idea to run Linux on the machine itself.  You can either use VMware player which is free or VMware Workstation or Server which are not.  Regardless, they work quite well.
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GinEricCommented:
You can now install a Linux server as well on Windows Virtual Server 2005.

Which is also free.

I guess Microsoft is catching on to some Open Source benefits.
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pjedmondCommented:
>You can now install a Linux server as well on Windows Virtual Server 2005.

>Which is also free.

Pity that you need to get a Windows server Licence first in order to run it!

(   (()
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 ''  ''

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GinEricCommented:
The virtual server is free, I don't know if you have to be running Windows Server to install and use it, never looked to see.

But the Windows Server license costs less than most Linux Servers do to build [experience].

I finally bought some Windows Server licenses after many years of their providing them for free.

:)
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