[DISCUSS] unix and linux
craig at buchek.com
Sat Jan 26 14:42:18 CST 2002
> what makes Linux "better" than Unix?
> (besides that some Unices cost money)
Well, you've identified the "free as in beer" part. That is a fairly
decent advantage of Linux (and the BSDs) over proprietary UNIX flavors.
But the biggest advantage of Linux over proprietary UNIX is that Linux is
"Free as in Free speech". This means that you have the right to do with it
as you wish. (As long as you don't take away anyone else's right to do
with it as they please.) You can modify the source code, you can sell it,
you can study it, you can give it to your friends, you can show it to
other people so that they can support it for you, etc. Due to this
freedom, thousands of developers have taken existing programs and improved
them, with bug fixes, new features, complete re-writes (i.e. borrowing
ideas), performance enhancements, security patches, etc. This in turn led
to a Linux community, in which people provide support, bug reports,
documentation, user groups, etc.
The result is that Linux also has a lot of technical advantages. From
personal use, I find Linux to be *extremely* more modern and user-
friendly. And I'm just talking about the command-line. The GUI isn't used
all that much in the server environments that IBM is targetting. At the
command line, there is tab completion, a lot more options to commands, and
just a lot more power.
Be aware that there are a few down-sides to Linux. Primarily, it is harder
to find support for Linux. That is changing, as is the view of businesses
that Linux is just a toy. Also, Linux changes more quickly than any other
UNIX, so you may have to upgrade more often to maintain a secure system
that is well-supported. Finally, while Linux has lower initial costs, the
support costs are more difficult to calculate. While the more modern
features make it easier to manage the system, there may be cases where you
will need to pay for source code changes yourself. That's a bit of an
unknown, but often the changes will be made by members of your own
exisiting support staff.
> i always assumed that you picked the tool for the job, but this article
> suggests that its preferable to switch to Linux ??
Preferable for whom? IBM or their customers? Maybe it's better for their
customers, but more likely, you are correct that it is a matter of the
right tool for the job. But for IBM, they would benefit by reducing
support costs by switching to Linux and getting rid of their proprietary
OSes. It's a lot like the reason the PC took off -- the open architecture
allowed hardware components to become commodities. Here the commodity is
the OS and related software. By porting everything that existed on their
proprietary OSes, IBM can actually come pretty close to making Linux the
better choice for their customers as well.
St. Louis Unix Users Group - http://www.sluug.org/
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