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Windows Servers Beat Linux Servers 709

RobbeR49 writes "Windows Server 2003 was recently compared against Linux and Unix variants in a survey by the Yankee Group, with Windows having a higher annual uptime than Linux. Unix was the big winner, however, beating both Windows and Linux in annual uptime. From the article: 'Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Linux distributions from "niche" open source vendors, are offline more and longer than either Windows or Unix competitors, the survey said. The reason: the scarcity of Linux and open source documentation.' Yankee Group is claiming no bias in the survey as they were not sponsored by any particular OS vendor."
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Windows Servers Beat Linux Servers

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  • by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:15PM (#15487973) Homepage
    How does documentation affect the uptime of a server?

    You need documentation to make changes, not to leave the server alone.

    If you're making changes you're not measuring the reliability of the OS/software, you're measuring software and admin performance.
  • BSD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Fireflymantis ( 670938 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:15PM (#15487981) Homepage
    So where would *BSD fall in. Along with Linux because of the clueless people rebooting it because they don't understand /etc/init.d, or along with UNIX because (I'm linux user myself) BSD users actually do seem a bit on the more experianced side of the fence.
  • my 2 cents... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by revery ( 456516 ) * <charles&cac2,net> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:15PM (#15487982) Homepage
    This sounds completely bizarre to me. I have never, ever, ever had a problem with a Linux distro that brought the system down, that I couldn't diagnose within five minutes of web browsing. I have, however, had many, many, many Windows problems that kept a system down that Microsoft themselves couldn't solve. (Frequently the solution was reinstall)

    Granted, Windows has been more stable recently, but in my experience, everything on a Linux system can be logged, whereas half of the stuff on a Windows systems happens in a way that you can't get to it or see what's going on.

    The one thing from the study that I'll readily agree with wasn't quoted in the linked article, but instead can be found here [] on the Yankee Group's news page:

    Underlying these findings is the crucial point that TCO metrics such as reliability, performance, security and management ultimately depend on an individual company's implementation.
  • by linuxkrn ( 635044 ) <[moc.nigolxunil] [ta] [nostawg]> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:15PM (#15487984)
    How many times to we have to tell people that Red Hat != ALL OF LINUX.

    That's like saying Windows 2003 is all of Windows. I still doubt that they played fair in FUD report.

    In addition to this, they almost NEVER compare apples to apples. Apache != Linux either, just IIS != Windows.

    How many patches require you to REBOOT windows to apply? Service Packs? The only thing you need to reboot Linux for is a new kernel. Did they factor that in as well?

    But my guess is these guys either got MS funding from somewhere, or were fishing for some after giving this report.

  • What? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by C_Kode ( 102755 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:22PM (#15488039) Journal
    "Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Linux distributions from "niche" open source vendors, are offline more and longer than either Windows or Unix competitors, the survey said. The reason: the scarcity of Linux and open source documentation."

    Hmm, thats odd. Linux documentation has always been in great abundance. It's getting information about how OS interals worked that caused me the biggest OS to Application head-aches. (Both Unix and Windows)

    On a broader note, said Yankee analyst Laura DiDio

    Ohhhhhh, I see. Laura DiDio had her nasty little Microsoft-lead hand in this survey.
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:24PM (#15488065) Homepage Journal
    I agree, we run our entire lab on Linux, with the exception of my WinXP machine and a laptop downstairs.

    Reliability - thy name is Linux - we can't afford to keep rebooting our servers when our medical genetics perl scripts run days and weeks before crunching the DNA sequences and family inheritance statistical inferences.

    Maybe shops that are only open for 9-9 each day can, but we have to be up all the time.
  • Re:Downtime? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by normal_guy ( 676813 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:43PM (#15488233)
    I don't know. My experience with MySQL, perhaps the most commonly-used application behind Apache, shows a surprising lack of robustness with regards to unexpected power outages or hardware errors. The hours can add up when you're rebuilding large indexes or fixing corrupt tables.
  • by spyrochaete ( 707033 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:46PM (#15488266) Homepage Journal
    I wrote a Microsoft-funded white paper last year with the assistance of two subject matter experts - a Microsoft expert and a linux expert, both certified veterans of their fields. The goal was to compare the processes required to set up and administer various services in Windows 2003 Enterprise vs. Red Hat's and SuSE's boxed enterprise server NOSes. Because the white paper was intended for internal use only, we had 100% control over what services would be tested, how to evaluate them, and how to present our findings. We didn't evaluate uptime per se, but I feel my comments are relevant since installation and maintenance contribute to server and client downtime, ergo, uptime.

    We compared many factors including user management, authentication, "ghosting" new machines remotely, remote application installs, file sharing, delegating authority to subordinate administrators, and much much more. The Windows and Linux guys would work on a "lab" side by side, often peeking over to see how the other was doing. At the end of each lab we'd all have a discussion about the number of steps, any problems, company and community support, the ease/frustration factor, and how it went overall. We wrote about all these factors and rated them on 10-point scales per lab, and condensed those into one comprehensive graph showing overall ease-of-use of each NOS.

    Long story short, Windows came out on top by a huge margin in every field - ease, usability, intuitiveness, support, everything. In fact, the only topic where Linux came even close to Windows was in community support, and even that was only 50% of Windows' score. At the end of the project the Linux expert garnered a lot of respect for Windows and quashed most of his prejudices. Needless to say, MS soon compiled our white paper into marketing materials and stuck them on [] (but it's been replaced by more recent studies).

    I was a little disappointed that we couldn't expand the scope of the test to put stuff like Apache and Squid and mySQL through the paces, but the topic was enterprise administration, not publishing live services. I also would have liked to have tested custom installs of other linux flavours like Debian or Slackware, but neither product had a specific enterprise distribution.

    So don't be too quick to label all pro-Windows studies BS or FUD or other ignorant catch-all acronyms. I personally was funded by MS to spearhead an impartial study, and MS management had a genuine interest in improving their products. I can't speak for the study in TFA, but my own was conducted with nothing but integrity and truthfulness.
  • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:52PM (#15488307) Homepage
    Uh, I can't remember the last time I had to patch my linux kernel due to a security issue. Maybe there was an occasion in the last year, but that is unlikely. That is the only thing in linux that requires a reboot.

    As far as the other stuff you mention goes - none of that requires substantial downtime. Sure, if you're making an application change you might need to work out what dependencies need to be updated, but it isn't like you're going to do that while production is down.

    If you're running a server that you care enough about to bother reading uptime surveys, then you're not going to make any changes to it until you've performed the change in an identical test environment following a documented procedure, and have tested the change to ensure the system works. Then you just follow the same procedure again in production and it will work there as well. And running a different OS isn't going to make a difference in your application update plans, except possibly for stuff like package-manager utilities or other tools to manage your apps. On linux you'd actually have more support for this stuff - if you need to have good control over your production server with some app not supported by the OS vendor then you're better off making your own RPM for it.

    If you generally upgrade applications by fiddling with the production server until it works, then you're really not the target audience for server uptime reports. That kind of stuff will kill uptime on any server.

  • Uptime (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TripHammer ( 668315 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:57PM (#15488349)
    I don't give a rip about uptime per se. What I care about is being able to reboot on my terms..and sadly...Windows usualy sets those terms.
  • by golodh ( 893453 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:16PM (#15488511)
    Really ... I wouldn't say a word against Communications Majors (as miss Didio is according to the Wikipedia), except where you propose to rely on them to tell you anything accurate, or anything about technical matters.

    Others have already commented on the lack of clarity, the need to read between the lines, the absence of the most elementary numbers and facts about this "study" (as in: how many respondents, how recruited, how many rejected and why, how was uptime defined and measured, what were the uptime numbers, (contingency table by OS this year, contingency table by OS previous year)).

    If any students read this, let me take this opportunity to warn you. Submit a "report" like this to any serious faculty and look forward to an F grade. Unless you're a "Communications Major" obviously, in which case you'll be complimented on the flow of your prose.).

    I'm guessing here of course, but I think that the real study was conducted and written by someone totally different, and miss Didio got the write the "teaser": i.e. the part that you can release without divulging any real information that you would otherwise be required to pay for.

  • Raise your hand... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PhYrE2k2 ( 806396 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:20PM (#15488545)
    Raise your hand if you have read any documentation included with any software you purchased in the past five years. Anyone? Anyone?

    Okay then- raise your hand if you know that there are 600-odd page gorilla Linux reference books out there which may provide documentation should you need it that will be 100x better than anything included with the software.

    Raise your hand if you know where to seek help, such as #linuxhelp and #linux on EFNet.

    Case in point. Why not put a properly run linux server against a properly run Windows server- that is what it comes down to. A trained, professional, and experienced admin who has learnt the software they are running and know it well, in a specific purpose. Put Linux as a fileserver against Windows as a fileserver with any optimizations possible and equivalent configurations that are agreed upon beforehand. Put Linux versus Windows as a Web server with a knowledgable admin. This `good at neither` system doesn`t work!
  • Re:Total Bullshit (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:30PM (#15488619)
    So you're saying you haven't installed a service patch to your Windows 2003 box that required a reboot in 2.5 years? Care to post the web server address? I'm betting you won't dare.
    It's a Win2k server, not Win2k3. It's been running SP4 since the day it came out (Nov 6 2003, two and a half years ago), and that's the last reboot the machine has had. Of course, the machine is firewalled - the service pack is there because I thought it would be nice to have it, just in case, but it could do even without SP4. Only port 80 is opened.

    And no, I won't post the address, but not because I'm scared or anything - there's a reason why I'm posting as AC, and revealing the address would reveal my identity (my name is written all over the web pages served). But trust me, there's nothing wrong with the machine, and the only nasty thing that could happen to it would be a DDoS attack that would piss off people using other servers behind the same network gear, including the institution's friendly Linux admins on a 622 Mbps connection elsewhere.
  • by owlstead ( 636356 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:36PM (#15488662)
    Yes, Windows is better documented... That is, if you are looking for really shallow documentation. For both Linux and Windows, you are way better off by buying a few good books. The GUI documentation of Linux is pretty worryingly bad, but if you go deeper, it gets better. With Windows, it's just the other way around. Even MSDN is pretty bad and (maybe more importantly) one sided. And, if you are trying to watch it on the machine you are working on, prepare for a reboot; MSDN requires the latest Internet Explorer most of the time. I do not expect .NET to improve this situation, with Java application servers you can just unzip the stuff in a folder and run (as with the VM).
  • by Rhett's Dad ( 870139 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:38PM (#15489151) Homepage

    I think the only Linux distributions that should be considered in a study like this are the ones that have corporate support contracts available. Bringing in our experiences with other such distributions (like Fedora) isn't relevant because sensible companies should NOT be allowing any OS into their production corporate infrastructure without proper support available.

    If you depend on your savvy hacker to set your production boxes up on Fedora, where is your company going to be when Mr. Savvy moves on? Where's your reliable production support now? Support contracts are insurance against your own employee knowledge base as much as insurance against the server's hardware/software.

  • by v3xt0r ( 799856 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @03:10PM (#15489409)
    Since when did lack of documentation affect a computer's uptime??

    Last I remembered, it was the responsibility of the SysAdmin to ensure a proper configuration that will ensure a long uptime. If vendors were accountable for this, Microsoft would get sued everytime a windows server crashes, which would basically make them bankrupt! =p

    The only lack of documentation I see here, is a document which includes the actual results of this study.

    How do they base these results? what a brainless piece of FUD this is. I smell Ballmer somewhere near by...
  • BSD Not Evaluated? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BanjoBob ( 686644 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @03:25PM (#15489504) Homepage Journal
    According to various articles scattered around the net, the Unix flavors included Solaris, HP-UX, etc. But, I have seen no references to NetBSD or FreeBSD as a Unix that was evaluated.

    While boxes are boxes and OSs are OSs, the application that the server is running needs to be factored in. There are many cases where a BSD server may be a better choice than Linux or Windows just as there are cases where Linux or Windows may be the better choice. I found it interesting that I can find no reference to a BSD Unix in any of the links to the study.

    So, since this study has so many unanswered questions relating to function, measurement criteria (what is considered downtime?), application, hardware, etc., the survey is pretty much worthless.

    Box+OS is a tool and I use the right tool for the job. One size does not fit all solutions.

  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:23PM (#15489923)
    I have no idea where you live, but electric and water outages happen in most apartment complexes perhaps once in a couple of month and bring down toilets, internet connections and nearby ATMs. As for cars, they go down for maintenance for at least a day every six month and nobody complains. If I go to or something and it's down, I'll just try again the next day, big deal.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.