Choosing between Unix or Windows?

Ricky White
Ricky White used Ask the Experts™
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Why do some companies use Unix or Linux? What are the main factors or advantages to choose that?
Is it because Unix/Linux is free and Windows is not?
But then Windows has so many other features that it seems worth it.

Is it because Unix is more secure than Windows? It doesn't make sense, how can a free product be more secured than Windows? or is it that hackers haven't spent enough effort to break it?

Please advise.

Thanks!

P.S: no offense to any Operating System.
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Technology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Commented:
Because licensing costs can be excessive, especially in large companies with in-house support.  Add it up.  

As for features, both systems offer similar features in many areas.  Some are better on one platform than on the other.  It depends on your company's needs and expertise.  

As for how Linux is more secure, it's open source.  There are many thousands of eyes reviewing the code and looking for exploits that can be fixed.  For Windows, there aren't nearly as many people looking at the code - it's harder to find bugs.  That's both good and bad - good because fewer people will find the bugs and exploit them... bad because fewer people will find the bugs and fix them.

While Linux may be free of licensing fees in most places, it's often more expensive to get the help you may need since there are fewer experts around to help you.  The culture is often different as well - I find many Linux experts believe RTFM should be the default answer... well Mr. Linux expert, if I had the time to RTFM, I wouldn't have asked in the hopes of saving hours of time.

Bottom line - each has a use and which you use depends on your expertise.
I have worked in the huge telecom companies where they have 10k+ server environments and more data than most people can think of.  The only operating system that can scale to that level reliably is Red Hat Linux.  They are junking old Windows servers because they cannot handle their needs.  Linux/Unix are much more secure and reliable.  In the server world Linux is the way to go.  That is why my fellow Windows admins were constantly asking me to help them learn Linux.

I am now working as a full time employee in another huge telecom company.  Again we are running Linux as nothing else can simply handle the scale of data we do.
Sikhumbuzo NtsadaIT Administration

Commented:
1. Linux makes an excellent firewall
2. Can run on very low spec hardware without problems
3. There is more than enough recourses on the net about it
4. VMWare one of the mostly used virtualization environment is built on top of Linux
6. Redhat realesed their ow RHEV 3 for virtualization - it can host hundreds of servers
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Dave BaldwinFixer of Problems
Most Valuable Expert 2014
Commented:
On the other hand, businesses whose business software is only available on Windows are pretty much tied into using Windows.  They may use Linux for web servers but that depends on how their other software connects to the web server.  If their software uses Microsoft SQL Server then it is more likely that they will use Microsoft servers and web servers.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
I find most people who favor one strongly over another are simply inexperienced or just enthusiasts who think it's the best thing since sliced bread.  I mean that of both Windows Experts and Linux Experts.  Technology experts want to learn both.  Technology experts with a business mind, want to learn linux because there as a percentage, fewer linux experts than Windows experts compared to linux systems and windows systems.  

I would also dispute the idea that companies are moving away from Windows.  More than they are moving to Windows.  I'd like someone to cite some proof (I'm interested in seeing it).  

Linux is a powerful system that's very flexible.  But it's not the end-all-be-all of operating systems any more than Windows or Mac OS is.  Linux does clustering VERY well and most super computers run linux or a version of unix.  But Microsoft has a competing offering.

Really, the point is expertise and what products the company choses to implement.  Sometimes a product may be available for both Windows and Linux, but one implementation may be REALLY bad and another really good.  And sometimes, you might need to use a product or company that people loath.  (I've not had to deal with them, but it seems many people I talk to HATE Oracle and yet they make a linux distribution, they bought Sun, the bough MySQL if I remember correctly, they bought OpenOffice.org (which is at least partly why there's now LibreOffice).  The point is, LOTS of choice and your expertise and requirements as well as economics dictates what you use.  (and I don't mean you personally, but your company)

Author

Commented:
Thanks all for your replies.

I am curious what exactly is it that makes Linux more scalable than Windows? Is it the Architecture? or something else?

I just find it hard to believe that Microsoft spent all this money on building Windows server OS and some Linux developers without any collaboration or team built a better OS for free.
And on top of that Microsoft couldn't even copy something that is open source.

Please help.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Who said linux developers don't collaborate?  There's a HUGE amount of collaboration.  

Microsoft can't re-use open source code if it's released under the GPL without giving away Windows, if I understand the license properly.

Microsoft scales quite well.

In my opinion, Microsoft excels because they make things RELATIVELY easy.  Linux is extremely powerful, but quite complex with the various distros, the config files, the 20 different ways to edit a text file...  Its incredibly flexible... but that flexibility also creates confusion if you don't spend the time to learn it.
Sikhumbuzo NtsadaIT Administration
Commented:
Microsoft has come a long way in developing their OS, they are still leaders in SALES, which means they are doing something right.

Companies are looking for alternatives not because they are not good but they tend to be pricey. Why pay thousands of Dollars/Pounds for a licence if you can get out with using Linux which does the same things if not more than Microsoft.


It is a matter of choice at this moment really, take AD for example it makes managing your day to day IT needs very easy.

Setting something like AD in Linux is a mission but once it works it achieves the same this as Microsoft.
Dave BaldwinFixer of Problems
Most Valuable Expert 2014

Commented:
You're trying to oversimplify two operating systems that have taken (so far) about 30+ years to build and 10s of thousands of people to create.  This page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_kernel says that Microsoft is the 17th largest contributor to Linux.

In addition, you could say that Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows are the 'retail' operating systems.  There is also 'real' UNIX, IBM AIX (Unix), HPUX (Unix), and BSD UNIX which is derived from the 'real' UNIX code because the University of California at Berkeley owns a license to that code.  This page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSD_Unix tells how parts of the BSD code is used in Windows and OSX.

And there are the 'mainframe' operating systems that you will never see unless you work for a large company that can afford to use those machines and software.

All of these operating systems actually contribute to each other to make the kind of systems we have today and tomorrow.  When you have to choose one, you simply see which one fits your needs.  If all you need is a text editor, then just about anything will do.
Top Expert 2007
Commented:
Is it because Unix/Linux is free and Windows is not?

Linux distributions are free (apart from support for enterprise versions such as RHEL).

Most Unix based systems such as Oracle Solaris and AIX aren't free.

Author

Commented:
Thanks All!

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