October 14th, 2003 12:50 AM
Let's take a very mitigated look at windows and linux, since the original subject spiraled into yet another "which is a better OS" debate.
Before I do anything like that, I'll state up front that I'm a unix systems administrator of 8 years with a total of 15 years of computer experience. This is neither a pro or a con, just a statement of where I'm going to pull my "knowledge" from. Knowledge, like anything else, can/will be biased, is based on opinions of individuals, and is subject to be wrong, misled, correct, zealous, and any number of other adjective-oriented designs.
Where does windows come from? It comes from Xerox, Apple, IBM, and a myriad of other collections of "what could've been" if the companies that made those products actually pursued and/or better protected them. This is neither here nor there. What is important is that it runs the desktop, pure and simple, and pretty much nothing will ever change that modus operandus. It's in every business, school, and corporate design regardless of the 'tactics' used (extended contracts, no usage of other OS', etc).
What does windows provide? A very user-friendly environment of which any number of applications can and will be used, varying in type from word processing to html markup to spreadsheets, you name it. It attempts to provide major server level applications on a desktop, such as Access (that's very unreliable as a "database"), web serving (IIS), and others. Some of these are bonafide server applications (IIS, Exchange), yet due to the inherent incorporation with these apps to the OS, more holes and bugs and "virii" and exploits have been able to be made and used than on any other operating system known to man. This is a proven fact and it's why I don't use anything windows-related for mail, web browsing, and other things (in my dealings with windows). It still is the KOTH when it comes to desktop usage and hence, has provided the world with idiot users (not necessarily a bad thing since they don't know anything at all) yet that's a whole slew of problems in and of itself. Proven fact is seeing CLI students in Intro to Unix are "smarter" when it comes to figuring out encountered problems than those taking Intro to Windows or whatnot. This is not a cut on windows users, simply a noticed event. I also see unix users who can't use windows at all. That's another noticed event.
What is linux? Linux is an operating system built back in 1990 by Linus Torvalds as another operating system to Minix (not unix, catch), of which Albert Tanenbaum was a staunch follower of. In fact, "writing another operating system for the i286 earns you your second F for this semester" is what Tanenbaum told Torvalds upon completing the base kernel (he had to write his own floppy disk drivers and a ton of other things). Since then, it quickly became part of the "Open Source" movement which stemmed out of the Open Source Foundation (HP, et al) and people started investing time and effort into making a better product. Now, it provides businesses a much cheaper and more stable operating environment for services such as Apache (which, btw catch, the standard startup for apache includes 5 subservers, 10 being the maximum, but that's not really a problem considering it's fully multi-threaded), sendmail (which has undergone many many security exploits...it used to be 'what's the sendmail exploit of the week?'), qmail, perl for text manipulation, cgi/php, ssh (there's your secure login, catch, including secure ftp such as vsftp), and others.
Linux, due to its more complex nature, is inherently more secure than Windows. Because of its open source nature, fixes are a lot more faster than anything MS can ever attempt to achieve. However, it's just as vulnerable to some things, regardless, because security is one divided by convenience (Unix System Administrators Handbook). I've seen linux boxes open to a number of vulnerabilities and I've seen windows boxes that were some of the best secured boxes by any number of standards. It all comes down to who runs the box. MS has a long ways to go. A VERY long ways to go and would benefit greatly even if they made a limited open-source attempt. It can't hurt at all. Linux has breached that gap a long time ago and yet it still has a long ways to go. They all do. AIX has tons to go through, HP has tons, Solaris has tons, Windows is last in line because when you have that many customers, you will have that many exponential problems, especially considering holes are found faster than they can be fixed.
IMHO, catch, I would harbor some of those biased opinions you've stated. You blatantly call people out because of their incorrect information when you yourself have done the same thing. And before providing a "list" of things that are wrong with linux, I'd look at windows in a very same light because that list I could provide is a lot longer. In comparison to your example of a superuser account, let's go back to the Code Red exploit where my linux box (apache driven, of course) got hammered over 86,000 times by 718 individual infected IIS NT-driven boxes. And it's illegal for me to "strike back", but it's legal for them to provide services where their box is infected and trying to infect others on the same subnet. I can't add their ip to the deny list in ipchains because then all traffic on eth0 halts while ipchains (netfilter now) searches through a huge list to see if the originating IP is in there. Ah well.
We the willing, led by the unknowing, have been doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much with so little for so long that we are now qualified to do just about anything with almost nothing.