June 30th, 2004, 04:42 AM
Hmm, actually I just realised how I was already in a bad mood, so I'm going farther:
If I'm just an idiot who can't do anything but install easy OSs, how about EVEN ONE person in this thread, reads the paper I've been writing, and just ONE thing wrong with it. This is a challenge from the idiot to the 31337 Gentoo gang. It should be easy, as I don't know anything. Hell, I'll make it even easier and post TWO papers for you to look at.
I put one mistake in on purpose, find it:
Reliability and stability of (Mostly) Common Operating systems
Written by: GORE.
This is a text file that I hope will help others in the quest for knowledge of reliability and stability of some operating systems they may come across. This text is being written on a Linux box in XEmacs.
Throughout the text, I will refer you to websites or other documentation, to give you a place to look if you want or need more information. this will help to keep the length of this text down a little, and make it easier to read. This way, if you want more information, you can have it without me having to make this longer than others may want to read.
Operating Systems (Here after known as "OS") Are the software that stand between the hardware and the software of computers. Every computer now needs an OS of some sort, even though in the early days this was not even thought of.
Before OS, programmers and researchers had to write all of the programs they wanted to use, and then, had no way of saving them. If you can imagine trying to write a program, it crashing, and then reading a print out of what happened because their was no "Core Dump" in these days, then you can see why someone started to think of the concept of an OS.
An OS has a lot of responsibilities. It has to control your hardware, your programs, and of course, make it easier for coders to make new programs. My main goal with this text will be to try and teach you a few things about OS, and the stability and reliability of ones you probably come into contact with.
Now, before I get to far into detail, you may be asking (Or you may not be asking, I really don't care either way =) ) What exactly IS an OS?
Well, an OS is software. Software is nothing more than a series of instructions, in a syntax that can be understood by either the computer, or a compiler, or, for BASIC, an interpreter. The instructions basically tell the computer what to do, and how, and when.
Most users interact with a lot of different programs on a daily basis. Some common applications you may use are: An Internet web browser, an e-mail client, a word processor application like Word, Word star, and Emacs, Text editors, like Vi, Vim, Emacs (I count it as both), Note pad, Edit, and Joe, and a lot of other types of programs. These are all software too.
In a basic since, an OS is a set of programs containing instructions that coordinate all of the activities among computer hardware resources. The OS recognizes input from a keyboard or a mouse, tells the monitor how to display things and where, the printer how to, and where to, print, and is in charge of data in RAM, and saved data on the disk.
More jobs the OS must do include:
Starting the computer up into a usable state
Providing a user interface
Accessing the Internet, and or a network
And all around doing some house keeper type jobs on the computer to make it useful for more than a paper weight.
Most computers people come into contact with store the OS on the Disk, smaller computers may store the OS in ROM, or "Read Only Memory".
Not all platforms use the same OS. Mac computers for example come with MAC OS. You can get other OS to run on a Mac though, like Linux.
Mac OS will not run on PCs though. X86 based PCs however have hundreds of OS available. And for SUN hardware, Solaris and Sun OS are the main OS, but Linux can run on these types of things too.
A bit about uptime:
A lot of people say uptime is not important. I don't agree with this at all. A lot of hackers love having a huge uptime, because keeping a machine from rebooting for a long period of time, is like a badge of honor. Think of it like a Dr who has performed a lot of successful surgeries. It is a bragging right.
But it is more than that. From a company perspective, uptime is very important. If a machine is rebooted, or turned off for any reason, that costs money. If a file server, for example, goes down for some reason, people can't do work.
This also costs money. Uptime isn't there just so you can brag how long your machine has been up. If you work for a company in IT, let one of your machines with a good uptime get rebooted or shut down while people are trying to work, then you'll see uptime is in fact important.
Now, with Windows, everyone has probably seen a "blue screen of death". Something happens, and Windows crashes. This in itself is bad enough, but think what happens when that machine is a server.
A server machine crashing, or needing a reboot, does cost money. I am completely against running Windows as a server OS. For one thing, when a new security flaw is found in Windows, which is quite often, you have to download the update, and always have to reboot for the settings to take effect.
This is unacceptable. And when their is more than one update, you have to download each one separately. That means after rebooting, you have to take more time to download another patch, to fix what they broke with the last fix, when they tried fixing what they broke. This process can take over an hour easily.
I run Windows on one of my home machines, and you have to download a patch, install, reboot, download another, install, reboot, and it goes on and on.
In Linux and BSD, when you install a security patch, you never have to reboot unless it is a patch for the kernel itself. Which rarely happens. Also, Windows usually takes longer to come out with a patch that works.
Recently this has been less of a problem though. They have been very good on the patching.
Now in their defense, again, they have a lot more of a user base to make the patch for, but for some reason, the Linux community has one ready that works in a few hours, not months like Windows.
For example, a few months ago, a hole was found in Internet Explorer. It didn't matter if you even used it, the fact that it was on your system made you have to update it. Internet explorer comes bundled with Windows, and can't be taken off.
It took them a couple months to even get a patch ready for it. Linux and BSD also allow you to install multiple updates at the same time, and not even need a reboot after you're done. An example would be when you reformat a machine, or install an OS on it for the first time. You know the routine, you install the OS, then sit there for about 7 hours installing updates.
Windows won't let you download some updates with others, and some of them have to be downloaded by themselves. In Linux and BSD, you download every update, all at once, and then you're done.
Like I said, the only time Linux or BSD need a reboot, is when you update the kernel, or install hardware.
This is much better for a server environment, where downtime costs money, because you don't need to reboot as often. Microsoft will try getting you to believe that Windows is a better environment than anything UNIX based, but after you have had the 30th Worm/Virus outbreak of the year, you probably will start not liking Windows.
But again, in the defense of Microsoft, they can't be like UNIX, they try sometimes, but the customer base for Microsoft do not want to actually learn. They want to sit down, and have something work.
Linux and UNIX do this, but require a small amount more in knowledge, which is why Windows still dominates with the filth they put out. Microsoft products are nice, and may not actually be filth, but the company is.
Also, Microsoft are still the only company to have an OS that gets affected by Worms as often as they do. But again, to be fair about this, most people use Windows, so Virus writers target Windows so that the infection spreads as fast as possible.
Well, the malicious coders do anyway. Linux, although not the epitome of security, is still more secure than Windows. People will tell you that security is made by the admin, not the OS, and I agree with this, except for one thing:
Linux has had about 4 Worms that actually were big enough to realize they were there. All of them targeted Red Hat Linux, and for the most part, did nothing more than install a patch for the worm, and go to another machine....Users really didn't need to install the patch that allowed this to happen, as the person who coded the Worm obviously had a sense of humor about security.
The worst Linux virus you are likely to ever see is:
From: Another Dude
Subject: Linux Virii!
This virus works on the honor system:
If you're running any variant of UNIX or Linux, please forward this to everyone you know, and delete a bunch of your files at random.
Thanks for your cooperation.
As you cans ee, this is pretty bad. It can delete files from your HD...Well actually it would be you deleting them out of pity.
One Linux virus that actually exists though, is called "W32/Lindose".
Not something you're likely to see if you do as my Linux install tutorials say, and delete Windows. The only way this virus can do anything, is if you have your Linux partition mounted in Windows, so the virus can be run from it.
It infects Windows PE executables and Linux ELF executables. If you somehow manage to infect yourself with this, don't pop open your Linux partition.
Viruses can cause downtime just like any other pain in the neck security flaw. This is another reason I won't use Windows for a server.
If you need to use Windows for a Desktop, I would recommend adhering to the following:
When you turn the machine on, use Windows update to make sure you have all patches installed.
After you have finished updating, check Windows update again. Sometimes when you install an update, you will notice there are now more updates than when you didn't have a certain update installed. This goes back to my complaint about fixing what they broke with the last patch they released to fix what they broke before.
After you have this all competed, update your anti virus software to make sure you have all bug fixes, and the newest .DAT files to check for viruses.
After you have done this, update your firewall software to make sure you are protected against new attacks.
At this point you should have Windows completely updated, your anti virus updated, and your firewall updated. Now it's time to make sure you have Windows Media Player updated. Windows Media Player, although nice, is not exactly secure either.
What I am trying to say, is when you turn your machine on, check for updates for the software you have. After you have finished updates and reboots, do a scan with your anti virus products.
Another thing you should be doing after you have scanned everything, is to open up Ad Aware; Which any self respecting Windows computer user would have installed. After you have it open, update the reference file, and do a scan with that.
UNIX hardware may cost a bit more, but it's worth it. Also, Linux and BSD do NOT need expensive hardware. The Newest version of Linux, will still run on a 386. A 386 was what people who ran DOS used. The newest versions of Windows need a lot more than that.
Also, Linux and BSD can be ran on 8 MB of RAM. Windows XP needs at least 128. If you are about to toss out that 486 you don't use anymore, how about you instead install Linux or BSD on it? Learning UNIX is a joy, and that 386 will actually make a great router or firewall.
You can take a 386 and turn it into a router or firewall with Linux or BSD. They both come with the programs needed to make it act as a router with very good firewall capabilities.
Again, I don't want to come off as someone who does not like using Windows. I do use Windows, and I do like the following:
-Windows Server 2003 (Personal Favorite)
So how stable is Linux and BSD?
Well, I for one had 53 days of uptime on my machine, before a power outage took it down. The top 50 up-times of web servers on the Internet as of yesterday, are all running BSD. These machines have up times of over 1,780 days. That is about 5 years in case you want to know.
Those machines have been running for 5 years without a reboot, as a server.
And now for an update to this:
I recently had 66 days of uptime on my SUSE Linux 8.2 Professional machine.
A Windows 2000 machine was ONCE on the list with 900 days uptime. I will give Windows 2000 it's do, as it is fairly stable, but that machine probably had NO patches installed on it at all, as patches need a reboot.
I would rather reboot because I am installing a security patch, than be rebooting because my machine got owned and I have to take it down.
All in all, you would most likely have better success keeping a UNIX based Operating system up for long periods of time. DOS is another stable OS, but it is still very limited in capabilities.
So, when it comes down to it, Linux and BSD are MUCH better at being a server OS than most anything else.
The Kernel of an OS is the very core of the OS itself. the Kernel manages memory, devices, the computer's clock, starts applications, and assigns the computer's resources.
The Kernel is also memory resident. It remains in memory while the computer is on.
When using an OS, the two most common ways of communicating with it as to what you want to do, are through a GUI (Graphical User Interface), which Windows XP uses almost exclusively, and a CLI (Command Line Interface).
The GUI can be nice to get common things done fast, but the command line is the best way to perform advanced tasks.
Different types of OS:
Not all OS are the same. Most you are likely to come across may be very similar in what they do, but that doesn't mean they are all a like. Some OS are for servers, some are meant to be clients, some are single tasking single user, and some are embedded.
For the most post, I will be discussing mainly server and client and desktop OS. Embedded OS are not something I use much.
The best known single user single tasking OS is without a doubt DOS. DOS stands for two things:
Disk Operating System
Dirty Operating System
In 1981, IBM was coming out with a Personal Computer. They needed an OS to run on this "PC", and thankfully IBM succeeded with the PC, as we all now have a computer in our homes.
They went to Microsoft for an OS, and Microsoft lied and said they had an OS for the PC. They found a clone of Digital Researche's CP/M OS written by Tim Patterson of Seattle Computer Products called QDOS (Quick Dirty Operating system).
Microsoft bought it cheaply, and changed the name to MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating system). In some original copies, you could actually find the real name of it, as Microsoft had left some in, which I would guess was just a mistake when they looked for everything to change in it.
DOS seemed like the answer to IBM needing an OS. It was small, didn't take up much space, and would work without a Hard Disk. The original PC had no Hard Disk anyway. They changed the name to PC-DOS for IBM, named after DOS/360, an OS of the mid 60's. Microsoft of course called it's own version MS-DOS.
This was around the same time that BSD was being created too.
DOS is a fairly stable OS. Most versions of course allow you to only do one thing at a time, but IBM has a version of DOS that came out around the year 2,000 that actually can multi task.
You can find out more information of "PC-DOS 2000" here:
As for security, DOS is great...To an extent. I haven't heard of many DOS users getting owned, as it can't handle another user to break in. This would in theory point to DOS actually being secure network wise.
It can't handle more than one user, and can't handle more than one application at a time, so that would limit what could be done to it remotely. Remote access is possible in DOS though. Remote access tools were built for it, and a lot of applications that run in DOS, run much faster and much better than their Windows counterparts.
As I said, the security of DOS in a network being great because of it only being able to handle one user, and one application at a time, is only a theory of mine. Maybe one day I will actually test it and see how good it can hold up.
Even though it has age showing, DOS is still very much in use. Any Hacker worth his salt knows DOS.
Anyone who uses Windows should also know DOS inside and out, as most advanced tasks would require opening a DOS command prompt.
For information on MS-DOS, and help in learning commands, please see:
The most well know OS in this category is without a doubt Windows. For a desktop, Windows is fine, but as for stability and reliability, they have had a less than perfect track record.
Windows 3.X was decent. It was fairly fast, and was simple. It was a bit reliable, heh, much more than Windows 95. And it was faster than 95. This OS is not in in use much anymore today, as support was dropped for it long ago, and it wouldn't be able to handle the new features that people have come to expect out of a modern OS. If you have older hardware lying around and don't want to use Linux for some reason, this could still be a valid option.
The odd thing about this, is if you have a 486 running DOS, and have Windows 3.1 installed on it, it will boot up, and respond faster, than a 3.06 GHz processor with Windows XP will.
I have actually seen this, and I was shocked to see how fast it boost up. And when you realise the processor on a 486 is so much slower, it kind of makes you wonder. But again, being fair, Windows XP has A LOT more to it than Windows 3.1 does, and also, Windows XP has a lot more running.
For more information on Windows 3.X please refer to:
Windows for Work-groups:
Well, I am going to make this into another category. It was basically part of the 3.x line. Windows 3.x could be added to a network, but Windows for Work-groups made the task much easier to perform.
Windows for Work-groups 3.11:
This was a pretty good upgrade compared to Windows for Work-groups 3.1, which added 32 bit file access, fax capabilities, and higher performance. This was of course back when Microsoft released updates for windows to add new features, not because they had found some un-fixable security hole.
There were actually 4 releases of Windows 3.1x :
Windows 3.1 : The first release of Windows 3.1x.
Windows 3.1 for Work groups.
Windows 3.11 for Work-groups.
For Windows 3.1 to use networking features, a DOS NIC driver, protocol, and client software had to be provided. And as networking software became feature rich, the size of the client software resident in the 640K portion of RAM grew to the point that many applications would not run do to insufficient free real mode RAM.
Windows for Work-groups solves this problem by adding protected mode network support. Rather than loading the drivers in the 640K segment, The Windows networking software loads as .386 files. (VxD files).
Of course this means as soon as you went back to DOS, you lost the network. ( Some of the text you just read about Windows for Work-groups was NOT stolen, but learned by me from http://www.toastytech.com/guis/win311.html I did not just copy and paste this, but this stuff came out LONG before I had a computer, and some of it when I was in diapers. I found this site very informative, so I'm going to give some credit for THIS Windows 3.x section to them, as I learned a lot of it there.)
On a side note, to see what the FIRST version of Microsoft Word looked like running on Windows 1.0 look here:
Images of Classic windows:
http://www.toastytech.com/guis/win203logo.gif Windows 2.x
Page 228? The manual had more words than the source code!
All that color!!!!!!!!!!!!
This shot makes me actually regret giving away the only copy I had of Windows 3.x to my best friend for an old copy of UNIX. I need to find another copy.
so they DID borrow from Mac and TWM!!
This shot probably shows every color the monitor could handle. Lovely Chess board.
Instead of Doom, they give you solitaire.
This probably drove a few users to suicide.
Wow...A screen saver... The technology!
Ohhhh! Haxxor like!
Because Windows is all about being open...
And you thought he had no sense of humor!
Windows 3.2 was for the Chinese.
Windows Chicago.. *Cringing*
I wonder if that sodding paper clip was present.
I'm sure this was the top of the line in digital music...
Control panel was NOT always there.
This was a preliminary release from November 1993.
Can't have Windows without solitaire....Nice to know they changed the games so often...
An adventure in "Crap OS land".
The titan of graphics and sound!
64 MBs of RAM???? Wow! The fact that it used almost half of it is kind of funny though, lol.
And it was still just a shell on top of DOS.
This is what happened when you pressed CTRL ALT DELETE.... The Sodding paper clip strikes again in pop up window form...It appears that you are grossly disgusted with Windows, would you like me to reboot the system?????????? LOL. This version of clippy seemed a little coked up and excited.
Good bye cruel world!
This is a file called "SYSLOGO.RLE" Hmm, odd.
A link to more images of Chicago. This was the Beta.
If you look at Chicago Beta, which the link I provided will take you to, you can see it was just before windows 95.
OK, this is weird. It is also a joke. Windows 98 running Windows 1.01 and shells from other oldies.
13 Years after making note pad they still can't get it to hold more than 60K of data...This is a shot from Windows 98.
Windows ME! And if you read into this page, there is a link that might even work, to show you a hack allowing Windows ME to be rebooted into MS-DOS mode!
Ahhhh Windows 98 LITE.
Windows 98 LITE version 2.
I'm not sure what to say here. Go look.
Another lovely show off page lol.
Office XP doesn't like running without IE.
You can get Windows XP to run things from Windows 1.0!
Windows 95/98 in 1 bit color, heh.
More weird Windows.
Making Windows 3.1 look like XP.
Windows 1.0 looking as XP as it can lol.
Windows NT 3.51 running new applications like Mozilla...And somehow working a little.
Windows 95 -
Windows 95 is great for doing basic tasks like surfing the Internet, and sending email. That is about where it stops though too. It is very unreliable, and for stability in Windows 95, think WTC AFTER the planes. Both crashed bad.
I used Windows 95 For about 6 months when I got my first computer. Even though Windows ME was about to be released, my first computer came with 95. It was from my uncle, and I learned quite a bit from it.
Windows 95 is not in much use anymore, because it is not only no longer supported, but unstable to the point that people would probably rather use DOS. But, you can find a few places that still use it. If had a few extra boxes I myself would install it again. It's not a resource hog, but it still has use in my opinion, as most OS do.
Windows 98 -
Windows 98 was an update to Windows 95 where some bugs were fixed, and the Internet was "integrated" into the OS...Supposedly. Windows 98 was decent though. It was more stable than 95, and more stable than the next home user OS, Windows ME.
Windows 98 SE was probably the best for gaming until Windows XP home came out. And even then some games won't run on XP, so the ultimate gaming machine would have to have 98SE for the games to all run correctly.
I can't say much bad about Windows 98 SE, because quite honestly, I have hardly ever had problems with it. It rarely crashed on me, and all the problems people report with it, hardly ever happened to me. Windows 98 SE can be used easily, and if you know what you're doing, and don't install "Dodgy" software on it, you can very easily keep a good uptime on it.
Windows 98 for stability is not to bad. Don't expect it to stay crisp after about a day or two though. But it can be up for a month or more if you know what you're doing.
Windows ME -
Doesn't belong in a conversation, or discussion about stability.
But if you really want to read a bit about Windows ME, look here:
Windows NT -
Windows NT was something that came out just before 95. I have no idea why they released 95 when NT was already there. NT was much better, even though it needed more resources.
NT machines have been known to stay up over a year without a reboot, but according to a Microsoft manual that no longer exists, you are supposed to reboot once a month for the memory leaks it has spilling out.
Microsoft took this tip off the web site, but it is quite funny. As I am writing this on my Linux box, I have 58 days of uptime, and I'm not planning on rebooting yet. That's the problem with Linux, you don't need to reboot so you may have to buy a better power supply.
I can't say I don't like Windows NT though. It was the first OS to have NTFS (Shocking, I know), and it is decent for being an old OS. It is somewhat dated now, but I would rather run it than nothing at all.
Windows NT has been around long enough that most of the bugs that are in it have had time to be found and fixed. Now if Microsoft would actually support it, it would be great.
All in all Windows NT is fairly decent, but no longer supported. The people at Microsoft dropped support for it a while back....And extended support for Windows 98.
From a business perspective, this was a very smart move, because a lot of people still use it, but personally, I think NT is better, and would rather have the nice NT, still supported.
Windows 2000 -
Windows 2000 was the update to NT. It was based on NT, but had the new features NT was missing because of age. A lot happened between when NT came out and when 2000 came out, so 2000 is usually a little better if you want newer options.
Windows 2000 is fairly stable. The Net-craft site showing the top 50 up-times once had a Windows 2000 box with 900 days of uptime on it. Not bad at all. Windows 2000 is still in wide use today, and Hotmail.com seems to be running it too.
I have used Windows 2000 Professional enough to know I can run it with confidence. Windows 2000 is all around a good OS if you actually take the time to learn it correctly. But few do.
Most people who use a computer, and don't make a career or hobby out of it, generally don't want to take time learning an OS, but those who do, usually really like windows 2000.
I just recently installed Windows 2000 on a new machine to see how it would work out. The Video card, NIC, and Sound Card in this machine are all integrated, and I had no drivers for them, and Windows 2000 didn;t work well on it obviously.
The NIC couldn't be used, and the video card gave me a bad resolution, and it was in 8 bit mode. So if you have a new machine that you want to use with windows 2000, make sure you have drivers in hand. Intagrated hardware is a curse in my opinion, but it is used a lot, so if you aren't sure if you have drivers, try and download them before installing.
Windows XP -
Windows XP comes in two forms mainly, and a third and fourth known as Windows XP for Tablet PCs, and Windows XP Media Center edition. They are basically XP with some added features to run on the machines they were designed for.
The other two main versions are Windows XP Home edition, and Windows XP Pro.
Windows XP Home edition is pretty much the one made for home use, and XP Pro was the update to Windows 2000 Professional. Huge difference huh?
Windows XP home is what I use at home, and I use XP pro at school. I've messed with both a fair amount, and from what I can tell, XP Pro's main difference is an extra $100.00 Price tag, and about 3 networking tools you could download anyway.
Oh, and of course XP Pro has encryption built in...Another feature you can download.
XP seems to mainly be a mix of Windows ME and Windows NT/2000. It is very stable, and also has a very good way with multimedia. Kind of like the best from both worlds. A lot of people have said XP was very insecure.
I believe an OS is as secure as you make it to be. Pooh Sun Tzu proved this theory with a couple of tests he shared on Anti Online, proving XP more secure than anyone had ever given it credit for.
I think Pooh Sun Tzu should be given a fair amount of credit for actually taking the time to learn Windows XP more than others have, and for teaching everyone that it can in fact be secured.
For Windows XP, it is the only version of Windows I have right now running. I have it on a box that came with it, and I just never took it off as I need it for school, and use it for a few other things too.
For stability, XP is an amazing OS compared to other OS Microsoft released. It is very stable, and I have yet to have to reboot unless I was installing something that required it... Or because I was worried about it over heating.
I've had XP running for quite a while without any problems, although after about a week some games would start to lag until I rebooted. This is still better than other OS Microsoft has released though.
XP does have a bit of a resources fetish though. You should have at the very least 256 MB of RAM, and a decent processor to run it. I personally have the XP box I talked about a bit earlier, and it runs great. It has 512 MB RAM, a 2.13 GHz AMD Athlon XP 2600+ Processor, and a 120 GB HD. This is a great machine for XP, as it has room to use.
If you can give it a lot of resources to play in, you should have no real problems there.
Windows server 2003 -
This right here, in my opinion, is one of the fastest, and best OS they have ever released. I started playing with it on a box here at home, and right away noticed a speed increase.
It seems to load applications much faster than previous versions of Windows could. Windows Server 2003 is amazing. I think Microsoft should take out all of the server software, and release it as a client version. It's fast, good to use, stable, easy to work with, and the install is easy, very painless to set up, and all around very good.
If you did need Windows as a server OS, I would recommend this one. This, and XP, are what I use at home. Well, that and Windows 2000 Professional. My other boxes all run Linux or BSD.
It seems very stable. I haven't had a problem with it at all.
Not much else to really say about it, as it is based on Windows 2000, so is very similar, but in my opinion, much better. Much better to the extent that I would buy it.
The install also goes a lot more smoothly than other versions.
I actually like it. They really should make a desktop version of it. I'd use it.
Are other Operating systems more secure than Windows?
Well, this is a question a lot of people ask, but hardly any know the answer to. The answer really depends on what you know how to do. If you know Windows very well, then switching to Linux may be a bit odd, and securing it is different in a few ways, so this may not be the best option. But if you are willing to learn, UNIX systems can be secured beyond standards.
I will cut this discussion down to only Linux, and BSD, because their are not very many homes that have any other versions of UNIX in them. Linux and BSD are both free to download and use. Or you can borrow a CD with Linux or BSD on it from a friend and copy it. This is all legal.
It IS freely available, but may cost you an Internet connection to download it, or maybe you could go to a school and download it their. The fact is, you can get it easy.
A lot of people think of BSD and Linux, and think "this is free, it must suck". It's sad people believe that. Linux and BSD are two of the most stable, reliable Operating systems in the world.
Open BSD is considered the most secure Operating system in the world, it is also freely available.
Yahoo.com runs on Free BSD, and a bunch of companies use Linux. They are all very stable. I have so far only seen a core dump on my Linux boxes one time. A core dump would be like a Windows blue screen of death, but you don't usually have to reboot from it, which is another strong point.
Also, Linux and BSD are immune to viruses. You have to be stupid enough to load one as root to make it do anything.
So, with it being free to get, immune to viruses and worms that spread across Windows boxes, and being stable as a brick wall; Why would anyone use something else?
Well, that is easily answered. People are used to Windows. At school you are taught to use Windows, and no one ever wants to learn anything else. Mac users are in a class all their own. Weirdos.
But I for one use Linux and BSD at home. This document is being typed on a Linux box in Vi. Linux comes with over 4,000 tools for everything from coding, to professional office suites, and even image editing, and a lot more.
The Matrix, for example, was MADE on Free BSD machines.
Linux and Free BSD power a lot of movies.
The Linux and BSD kernels both come with built in security. In short, yes, Linux and BSD can be much more secure than Windows, but you have to actually get off your butt and try. The way I mean they can be more secure, is the way Worms and Viruses rarely affect them, they have built in firewall capabilities, and they are stable.
Someone is updating a Windows box, and getting ready to reboot, well, this would normally be fine, but, what if someone inside the company wanted to gain access to the server? Well, a simple DDOS attack would stop the machine, or at least make it seem like it stopped. It would be lagging down to a crawl, and not be able to finish the update in time to stop the real attack about to occur, because the patch hadn't been installed, because the machine hadn't yet been rebooted.
Well, on Linux, the patch is installed, and that's usually it unless you're upgrading Apache, and then you have to do the oh so hard job of typing "Apachectl start". this takes less time than rebooting, and in this example, could stop an attack, as the update was installed beforehand.
Now, being fair, with Windows, the update would be very simple, so that way an MCSE can can do it too. Clicking on Windows Update and downloading patches should be easy, and for some reason, a bunch of people just do not pull this off.
I've heard of many attacks, and almost all of them were because someone just doesn't know how to update.
(Paper is not finished yet, so I'm starting the UNIX section next, which is why it's there but not started)
Another paper I started working on a little while ago. Again, same rules, you make it out like I'm an idiot, so here's another chance to prove it:
Slackware Linux VS. Free BSD:
A (somewhat) unbaised look at two OSs.
This is going to be done on my Slackware Linux 9.1 machine in Emacs and Vim, and will not include much outside of my experiances with both platforms. Remember that I am NOT a coder, so I will not put much of that into this.
The last week or so I have been pitting Linux up against Free BSD 4.10 and 5.0 to see which one is better at what.
By reading the websites for both OSs, they both make out like they are on top of the game for server and desktop use. But is it all true? Or just hype?
It may come as a shock, or it may not, that I haven't had a computer for very long. I got my first machine 4 years ago, and learned fast. I heard about Free BSD about a year later, and actually started with Free BSD after leaving Windows to try other OSs. I've been using Linux for a year now, and so far I have learned a lot about UNIX and OSs in general.
Anyone from Anti Online that reads this knows that I am usually the person to come to when you have an OS question, and that is because I learned a lot about how they work in general by learning from the OSs I have used.
From a security stand point:
Any OS can be good, and any OS can be secure. The main difference between who gets attacked, and who can defend depend on the person using the machine. An example:
User A runs Windows 98SE, has Mcafee Anti Virus, and Mcafee Firewall installed, updated, and all Windows patches installed, and the machine has only a few programs installed, and they are all updated.
User B on the other hand is running Free BSD, and has no idea how to update it. SSH was installed and running by default, and the user doesn't know how to use upgrade_pkg.
The above examples can easily be applied to a real world event, as I have heard of plenty of users installing Free BSD for the first time, and either not knowing how to shut the machine down (I guess "halt" or "Shutdown" aren't obvious enough) Or they don't know how to update the system. They awake the next day to a machine that has been rooted.
User A however, leaves the machine on all the time, and has never had a problem. User A opens NO attachments, doesn't use Peer-2-Peer software, and has the firewall protecting them from other forms of threats. And since Windows 98SE has almost no remote network capabilities out of the box, they don't have many services running that could be exploited anyway.
This is a good example of something that can happen. The difference between these two users besides a letter? Well, one has knowledge, and the other has bragging rights. Let that be a lesson to you: Uptime means nothing when your box has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.
I would really much rather reboot my machines because I'm installing a Kernel patch than be rebooting them because someone broke in, exploiting a hole that had a patch would have fixed a couple of months ago.
Security in Free BSD:
Free BSD may be one of the most stable OSs in the world. On the Netcraft website that shows the top 50 uptimes of web servers on the internet, almost all of the machines listed are running Free BSD on any given week. A few machines here have uptimes of nearly 5 years.
This is great, but I know for a fact that a few Kernel patches have been released in the last 5 years, and this means these boxes have not been patched. The number of people who can look on Netcraft and check uptimes of these machines, is almost like hanging a sign on the window saying "I'm not patched, own me".
Any person who wants to break into a server can easily go to Netcraft, find out the OS and Web server software of a website, and then check the patches that have been released for the OS the server is running on, and then compare the uptime to how long ago a patch was released, and Boom! you now know exactly what exploit you need.
Note to all admins:
Quit giving the kids such an easy task. Get up, and actually patch the machines you are in charge of!
Free BSD has not always had a good security track record. Some used to compare it to Microsoft. That was of course a while back though. I believe that any OS can be secure, or not secure, depending on the person operating it. Any user can take Open BSD, and make horrible security choices, and open up holes in it, and anyyone can also take something like, say Windows ME, and secure it beyond anyone's wildest dreams.
Before I get to far into this, one good place to learn about Free BSD security, is http://freebsd.org/security/
They give a good yet biased show of Free BSD.
Another thing to add:
If you find a security hole in Free BSD, send an e-mail too:
Letting them know about any problems you may find is best, don't keep it to yourself, and don't become a "0-Day Exploit" guy. Free BSD is used on many servers, and problems should be fixed.
Another thing to mention while on subject would be to remind users of Free BSD, that you should NEVER use the -CURRENT branch of Free BSD unless you are a developer. The -CURRENT branch does not get advisories, as it is not meant for production, so don't use it unless you are testing.
Always stick with something in the -STABLE branch.
Another way to stay on top of the game with security, and just general chat about Free BSD, is to join one of the many mailing lists, which can be found here:
That will show you a list of mailing lists you can sign up for.
One of the things about Free BSD is the "ports" collection. For information about this, please see:
I will discuss port later on.
Advisories for security issues are sent to these mailing lists (Taken from the Free BSD security page) :
If you notice on the Free BSD security page, 44 advisories of varying severity were issued for the base system. This is a high number considering it was just the base system, but then again this was also 2 years ago.
A look at the number of security patches for Free BSD4.3 shows almost 200 to date. For Free BSD 4.4 there is less than half of this. Free BSD 4.7 only has 4, which is really good, but it's not exactly old either. The Free BSD security FTP server, located at ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/CERT/advisories/ lists 298 files. 290 of these are updates, and 8 are folders leading to more.
If you were to compare Free BSD to Slackware based on the number of fixes, Slackware would probably become the winner there.
Free BSD and Slackware both have one thing against it already in security:
They both use sendmail.
Sendmail is one of the most insecure applications ever written. It's in very wide use because it is very configurable, but it still could use a complete rewrite. I recommend Postfix, it's written to be mroe secure, and unlike Sendmail, considuring it won't make you want to cry.
Go ahead, tell me I don't know **** and can only install simple OSs, as soon as you find what I did wrong and hid in there.
For the people who like these papers, well, hopefully in a few weeks I'll be done. The OS one I've been working on a while, because I'm still designing how I want it laid out, and what to put in it, and where. The Slackware Linux VS. Free BSD paper won't take nearly as long, but is no where near completed either.
I plan on adding an installation tutorial for Red Hat, Mandrake, and Free BSD to the OS paper, and linking to the rest of the tutorials I wrote for OSs in it.