JP Vossen on 20 Jan 2008 13:35:40 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] One True OS

Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2008 19:25:34 -0500
From: "W. Chris Shank" <>

 > Desktop Linux is no easier to administer than Desktop Windows. Both
 > are fairly straightforward if you spend the time to get things setup
 > right before it hits the users desk.

Short version:
I think setting up a desktop "right" is a bit easier on Linux than 
Windows, but I agree if you've done it beforehand on either they are 
about the same to administer.  But Windows is more fragile and harder to 
fix than Linux.

Long version:
I'd argue that trying to support end-users in any GUI environment is 
going to be a giant PITA unless you can remote-control their desktop one 
way or another.  (I used to work on a helpdesk, it was a heck of a lot 
easier to say, "Open a DOS prompt and type..." than to describe how to 
go click some obscure control, or even worse get the user to explain 
what they were seeing.  But I digress.)

The thing I haven't seen discussed is the fact that if the end-user 
manages to break it (which Windows makes trivial since you basically 
*must* run as Administrator unless you have a *lot* of time to debug 
things or are <shudder> using Vista), Linux is a lot easier to recover 
and find and fix an actual root cause.  Most of the time, the "fix" for 
Windows is to reboot and if that fails reinstall.  That's utterly 
insane, but a very many "techs" are conditioned to it.  In my 
experience, it's rare to find a root cause for a problem on Windows and 
rare not to on Linux.

Linus is inherently easier to recover because you can:
* access it without the GUI, when that's what's broken
* access it trivially with any number of recovery or LiveCDs (you can do 
this in Windows too, but it's not nearly as easy)
* move a hard drive to another machine and it'll likely Just Work
* not have to deal with the Registry (yeah, yeah, we've beaten this to 
death recently)

My very small scale solution to all of this is to run W2KPro in VMware 
server under Ubuntu.  This works great since I get awesome and complete 
cross-platform remote control (VMware fat console), hardware 
independence for the picky Windows side (it's a VM), Linux power and 
stability for the base platform (Ubuntu LTS), Windows "bare metal 
restore" backups (i.e., copy the VM dir!:), and Windows "upgrade" 
back-out protection (a VM snapshot).  I can't stress enough how happy I 
am with this solution, but I only use it for a very small number of 
nodes thus far (4) and I doubt it's scalable though I really haven't 
given that much thought.

Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2008 15:40:53 -0500
 > The need to do too many frequent upgrades has been one of my biggest
 > beefs with desktop Linux in commercial environments. Even with Ubuntu
 > - you really need to upgrade every 6 months, ...

That's what Ubuntu LTS releases are for.  While 3 years is a bit less 
than the recent MS major release cycle <snicker>, it seems pretty good 
to me.

My $0.02,
JP Vossen, CISSP            |:::======|        jp{at}jpsdomain{dot}org
My Account, My Opinions     |=========|
Microsoft has single-handedly nullified Moore's Law.
Innate design flaws of Windows make a personal firewall, anti-virus
and anti-malware software mandatory. The resulting software arms race
has effectively flattened Moore's Law on hardware running Windows.
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