I’ve been using Windows operating system since Windows 3.11 and Windows 95. Although I’ve tried out Linux a few times but getting the system up and running is very tedious and cumbersome. Furthermore, it lacks good web browser and Microsoft Office replacement. That was the time before Firefox and OpenOffice were developed.
Now, the situation has improved a lot. For the past few years, I’ve been trying a few versions of Linux and I must say that we’ve finally got a working operating system with a suite of workable software. Now you could install a Linux operating system together with a suite of free software and use it as replacement for Windows operating system. More and more hardware vendors are also writing drivers that support Linux.
Linux in Enterprise IT
As a former Windows system administrator, I would appreciate Linux/Unix more due to its automation capabilities. I started to dislike mouse and click features. It is so much more powerful to use the command line with scripting. Using shell script, you can automate almost anything. In fact, Microsoft realized the power of scripting and develop Power Script for Windows server. Windows 2008 servers also come with some basic version that uses only command line instead of Windows.
Linux is harder to setup and configures but once it is configured, you could replicate the configuration for multiple servers. In fact, you would appreciate the power of Linux when it scales. Therefore, I think Linux/Unix is good for large enterprise.
It is easier for you to study and examine Linux under the hood. You can even study the entire kernel source code. Windows and Unix (non open source) system will always remain a black box. As an IT professional and a hardcore computer geek who likes to learn what’s under the hood; I support Open Source Movement and I prefer Linux over other proprietary Unix operating system.
What frustrates me with Windows operating system is that, you could not do anything when system crashes other than re-installation. You need to call Microsoft help desk and find some workaround in the meantime. If you encountered major system problem in Linux, you have a choice of using help desk or you can debug the code line by line since Linux is open source. You can also choose to get help from the Linux forum. I am surprise by the wealth of knowledge and active support from the Linux community. It is easier to search for solution in Linux than in Windows.
In the enterprise IT arena, I believe that Linux is the solution. However, I don’t think Windows will lose its market share because Windows has its own appeal. Although you need to restart the Windows server every now and then, it is easier to use and the most important factor is that it is easier to get cheaper worker who knows Windows.
Linux for Enterprise
As an IT Manager, I think that Windows server is more appealing to small and medium companies that lack the scalability. It is easier to get worker who know Windows server at a cheaper rate. For companies that are growing fast and large enterprise, I would recommend Linux.
Linux in Desktop and Personal Computing
Although now Linux has a range of application that could replace Windows operating system, Linux is not going to replace Windows any time soon in the desktop market.
The main reason is the lack of killer apps. In today’s desktop computing, there are a few essential killer applications that could make or break an operating system. They are office productivity suite, web browser, contact manager and PIM (personal information manager), and media content organizer.
Microsoft obviously wins in the category of office suite. OpenOffice is adequate for normal usage and in fact is it recommended for infrequent user. However, Microsoft Office is still a better quality product compare against OpenOffice. Furthermore, Microsoft has the advantage of familiarity in usage.
Firefox wins in the category of web browser and it supports Linux. Firefox is one of the reasons Linux is getting more attention. I did not find any winners in the category of PIM and contact. Personally I did not find any PIM software that compels me to switch OS. ITunes is the winner in the category of media content manager. It supports only Mac and Windows.
Among all the killer application, only Firefox supports Linux. As long as there is no application that is better than MS Office and iTunes, Linux would not take over Windows or Mac.
Personally, I am still using Windows as my main computing platform, although I’ve been using Linux more for every other thing such as web browsing. Professionally, I prefer Linux on the server and I also support Windows client operating system.