Windows vs. Linux

I have been watching the Windows vs. Linux debate with interest for some time now. Security seemed to be the principle reason that the Linux community were suggesting that you move over to the open source operating system. Now Microsoft are fighting back and using Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as their reason for staying with Windows. On the face of it that would seem to be an easy argument for Linux to win, after all it can be obtained at little or no cost.

Recently, as part of a project at work, we took at look at the open source CRM package SugarCRM and while this will run under Windows I took the opportunity to try it out on Linux and what is commonly called the “LAMP stack”. This refers to the common software components used which are: Linux – the operating system, Apache for the web server, MYSQL for the database and PHP as the web scripting language.

Using a copy of Suse Linux 9 from the cover of a magazine the setup was relatively painless with all the hardware being detected without any problems. This was in stark contrast to previous attempts at doing a Linux setup.

Now the fun begins – where the hell is everything! I knew that I needed MYSQL, PHP and Apache to run the CRM application but how do I tell if any of the supporting programs are installed? Well I was pretty certain that Apache was there but opening a browser and entering “localhost” returned nothing. A search on the web revealed that I needed to start httpd. Ok but where was that? In the end it turned out that I actually had Apache2 installed and therefore needed to run httpd2. A find file search found the executable which I was able to run and get the browser returning something.

Next I would like to get the service to start automatically when I boot the box. In Windows I would go to Services in Control panel and set the service properties. In Linux I still don’t know where to look, it’s probably in one of the many configuration files but which one? So I am currently starting the service manually.

I needed MYSQL as a database so as I already had Apache and PHP installed I guessed that MYSQL must also have been installed. But I couldn’t find any evidence of it and myPHPAdmin couldn’t find it either so I downloaded the rpm file and installed it. After this the database was there and working but I have no idea where the install went or how or when the services start up.

And all of this is the point – after some 15 years of working with Windows I know where everything is and even if I don’t there are other people in the office who probably do know. With Linux I am clueless and it is this that Microsoft are banking on and this that drives up the TOC.

Linux is far easier to use and manage that it was a few years ago but it still has some way to go before it can match the usability of Windows on a day-to-day basis. I’m sure that the security of Linux beats Windows hands down but that simply isn’t enough alone for me to make the switch.