Ten Reasons to Dump Windows and Use Linux
By Ken Hess, PCWorld, Jul 23, 2010 9:51 AM
Now is a particularly good time to ditch Windows for good, for workstations as well as servers. For instance, now that Microsoft stopped supporting Windows Server 2003 on July 13, you’ll need to find something different to use for your servers. Whether it’s switching from Windows Server 2003 to 2008 or to Linux-based servers–or changing out tired and faulty Windows Vista desktops for the alien Windows 7 or something more user-friendly–Linux provides you with freedom and freedom of choice.
You might believe that dumping Windows and switching to Linux is a difficult task, but the change in thought and the perception of that switch are the most difficult. If you’ve attempted an upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, you know what pain is.
Business owners find that Linux, for what was once a “niche” operating system, provides the necessary components and services on which many rely. Linux continues its entry into the world’s largest data centers, onto hundreds of thousands of individual desktops, and it represents a near 100 percent domination of the cloud services industry. Take the time to discover Linux and use it in your business. Here are ten reasons to give Linux at least a second look:
1. Commercial Support
In the past, businesses used the lack of commercial support as the main reason for staying with Windows. Red Hat, Novell and Canonical, the “big three” commercial Linux providers, have put this fear to rest. Each of these companies offers 24x7x365 support for your mission-critical applications and business services.
2. .NET Support
Businesses that have standardized on Microsoft technology, specifically their .NET web technology, can rely on Linux for support of those same .NET applications. Novell owns and supports the Mono project that maintains .NET compatibility. One of the Mono project’s goals is to provide businesses the ability to make a choice and to resist vendor lock-in. Additionally, the Mono project offers Visual Studio plugins so that .NET developers can easily transfer Windows-based .NET applications without changing their familiar development tools. Why would Novell and others put forth the effort to create a .NET environment for Linux? For real .NET application stability, Linux is a better choice than Windows.
3. Unix Uptimes
Linux stability offers business owners the peace of mind that their applications won’t suffer lengthy outages due to operating system instability. Linux enjoys the same high uptimes (often measured in years) that its Unix cousins do. This stability means that Linux can support your “99.999 percent available” service requirements. Rebooting after every patch, service pack, or driver change makes Windows an unstable and unreliable choice for those who need nonstop support for their critical applications and services.
No operating system is 100 percent secure and Linux is no exception. But, Linux offers excellent security for its users. From regular kernel updates to an almost daily list of security patches, Linux code maintainers keep Linux systems very secure. Business owners who rely on commercially supported Linux systems will have access to every available security fix. With Linux, you have a worldwide community providing security fixes, not a single company with closed source code. You are completely dependent on the response of one company to provide you with timely security fixes when you use Windows.
5. Transferable skills
One barrier to Linux adoption was the idea that Linux isn’t enough like Unix, and therefore Unix administrators couldn’t successfully use their knowledge when making the switch to Linux. The Linux filesystem layout looks like any commercial version of Unix. Linux also uses a standard set of Unix commands. There are some Linux commands that do not transfer, but this is also true of any version of Unix.
Windows administrators might find that using a keyboard instead of a mouse is a difficult part of the transition, but once they discover the power of the command line, they might never click again. Don’t worry, though, for you GUI-bound Windows types, Linux has several desktop managers from which to choose–not just one.
6. Commodity hardware
Business owners will like the fact that their “out-of-date” systems will still run Linux and run it well. Fortunately for Linux adopters, there’s no hardware upgrade madness that follows every new version of the software that’s released. Linux runs on x86 32-bit and 64-bit architectures. If your system runs Windows, it will run Linux.
7. Linux is free
You may have heard that Linux is free. It is. Linux is free of charge and it is free in the sense that it is also free of patents and other restrictions that make it unwieldy for creative business owners who wish to edit and enhance the source code. This ability to innovate with Linux has helped create companies like Google, who have taken that ability and converted it into big business. Linux is free, as in freedom.
8. Worldwide community
Linux has the support of a worldwide community of developers who contribute to the source code, security fixes and system enhancements. This active community also provides businesses with free support through forums and community sites. This distributed community gives peace of mind to Linux users, because there’s no single point of failure and no single source for Linux support or development.
9. Linux Foundation
The Linux Foundation is a corporate collective of platinum supporters (Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Intel, NEC, Novell and Oracle) and members who, through donations and membership dues, sponsor Linus Torvalds and others who work on Linux full time. Their purpose is to “promote, protect and standardize Linux to fuel its growth around the world.” It is the primary source for all things Linux. The Linux Foundation is a big positive for Linux users and adopters because its existence assures continued development of Linux.
10. Regular Updates
Are you tired of waiting for a Windows service pack every 18 months? Are you also tired of the difficulty in upgrading your Windows systems every few years because there’s no clear upgrade path? (Ubuntu Linux offers new, improved versions every six months) and long-term support (LTS) versions every two years. Every Linux distribution offers regular updates of its packages and sources several times per year and security fixes as needed. You can leave any upgrade angst in your officially licensed copy of Windows because it’s easy to upgrade and update Linux. And, the best part? No reboot required.
If you’d like to give Linux a try, there are several distributions that are free to download and use without the need for any commercial support contract:
• CentOS – Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based free distribution
• Ubuntu – Free, enterprise Linux distribution (Commercial support available).
• Fedora – The Fedora Project is the free, community-supported version of Red Hat Linux.
• OpenSUSE – The free, community-supported version of Novell’s SUSE Linux.
• Debian – The parent distribution for many Linux distributions including Ubuntu and Linux Mint.
You can find information regarding switching from Windows to Linux through the Linux Foundation or any of its platinum members. When it comes to increasing your efficiency, saving money, and providing non-stop services to your business and its customers, how many reasons do you need?