VNU Net: Operating systems – Is Linux the business?

“Linux has been riding high on a wave of anti-Microsoft
feeling, but how does it square up as a serious business
…the most important question for anyone with an IT
operation to manage: ‘What use is it to me?’ There is no single
correct answer. It is down to how you see Linux fitting your
company’s needs…”

“…with server applications… Linux provides an alternative to
Netware, NT or commercial Unix… One primary reason for using it
here is cost. … You also get the complete source code, so you can
customise any part of it…”

“Another issue is stability. While no software is perfect, since
its first alpha release Linux has gone through many more revisions
and updates than NT – which has existed for about as long. Its
stability record is impressive, and due to its modular
construction, subsystems can be stopped, reconfigured or updated,
and then restarted without rebooting the machine.

Remote administration is simple as complete control is possible
from the command line with no need for a GUI. Alternatively,
browser-based admin tools such as Webmin (www.webmin.com) put an
easier interface onto everyday tasks. Either way, without a GUI’s
overhead, Linux runs well on modest hardware, such as a 486 with
20Mb to 30Mb of RAM and only a few hundred megabytes of hard-disk

“The second key benefit is Unix compatibility. Linux looks and
feels like traditional Unix, so there is little need for retraining
and few interoperability problems. Furthermore, an ever-increasing
number of ‘mainstream’ Unix tools are being ported to Linux, making
it a useful development environment. …for development purposes
Linux offers an inexpensive platform running on commodity PC

“…said Mark Morgan Lloyd, executive engineer at KDG
Telemetry… ‘it’s an indication of the maturity of the operating
system that it runs without obvious race conditions on such a wide
range of systems.’ “

“Linux can already be found at all levels, from minor
supplementary jobs such as a dedicated DNS server up to significant
line-of-business positions. Perhaps the most important point to
grasp is that it is an OS that works well alongside existing
commercial solutions.
It can add extra intranet functionality
to older networks, take over functions from overstressed servers,
add additional storage space or alleviate licence restrictions, and
get valuable extra use from older hardware. It may not be right
for everybody, but few companies can afford to ignore it.”

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