Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My bitch about a bullet point linux advocacy article

Please read the original article first, what I have written below is a respone to this linux advocacy article.


Ok, please forgive ment because this is going to be a critical comment. I would like to point out first that I am a total linux adherent, advocate and geek, and I ALSO agree that linux is better than windows products for most applications. I take exception to this list however. One of my pet peeves of advocacy of any sort is to ensure that if you are listing reasons or advantages that those items be pretty darn accurate. I am also a beekeeper, and I often hear that natural honey is so much better for you than HFCS, because HFCS produces traces of HMF (a toxic substance) when heated. Well that's true that honey is better for you than HFCS, however honey ALSO produces HMF when it's heated, so that _reason_ is false and only hurts the credibility of honey and honey advocates. It is the same story here with this list.

1. Stability, yes linux is much more execution stable (doesn't crash) that windows when all things are equal. It will even continue to run after a hard-drive crash so long as no data calls or writes need to be written to the damaged media. HOWEVER, the statement that linux doesn't need to be rebooted after updates is mostly false. Both Windows and Linux do not to be restarted when minor updates are applied, but when kernel space updates and other core systems are updated, both systems need to be restarted. Yes the linux system _can_ run without a restart, but it is _not recommended_. Windows can also continue to run without a restart after core updates, but it is also _not recommended_. System admins should have a regularly scheduled backup and restart program in place to help identify problems that escape notice on systems that are never bounced. It can happen that a system running for years is suddenly unable to restart because of problems that have stacked over the years but have gone undetected. If the admins had a regularly scheduled down-time, they could have identified each problem and dealt with it ina timely manner rather than be forced to reimage the whole system because the stack of undetected problems is too insurmountable and unresolvable within a decent time frame.

2. Security, honestly this is highly arguable. When everything is all patched up both systems are equally secure. What makes one more or less _inherently_ secure than the other is between the time when a new vulnerability is discovered and by the time the proper patch is applied. All other security and vulerability related issues are almost strictly the responsibility of the architects and administrators. Sure Windows XP might be less secure than linux 2.6, but uhm....it's also outdated. Windows XP is also more secure than linux 2.0 too. Vista is more secure than Windows XP, not because it's inherently free of vulnerabilities, but because it plug the holes of well known and nothing we can do about it vulnerabilities of Windows XP. WIndows 7 is also grandly more secure than the earlier iterations of Windows. Again it's all down to the space between vulnerability discover and patch deployment and administrative practices.

3. Hardware, new polished versions of Linux stand zero chance of running on the same hardware that windows cannot run on either. You can choose a distro wrapped around an older kernel like 2.0 or 2.2 or sometimes 2.4 on the not too damned old stuff, but you can do the same thing with Windows. Try installing ubuntu 10.04 on your Pentium Classic 300 laptop. Sure you can install redhat 6.3 on it if you like, but you can also install and run Windows XP on it too.

4. TCO, This is arguable, but not necessarily right or wrong. It depends on your point of view, but mostly is just changes where you put you money rather than eliminating spending.

5. Freedom You are mostly right, but only to a limited degree, and completely wrong about vendor locking and such. You can just as easily get stuck using a piece of open source software, unable to update if the project was abandoned or otherwise stangant, nor change to another alternative if the data format isn't exactly the same or they don't have conversion tools already in place. No you don't have to purchase a new software license package true true, but you have to spend the time and money either to do in-house development of the old project or spend the money converting all your data into something freindly to the new system you wish use. In the end, it is _always_ recommended that you research your exit costs, no matter whether running open source or proprietary systems and software.

I wish to reiterate I am a vocal champion of GNU and Linux and free software all around, but I also like to ensure we are giving true, accurate and compelling reasons in our advocacy. I cannot agree with this article for the same reasons I will not say that honey is better for you because HFCS has HMF.

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