Comparing Linux and Microsoft Windows for Enterprise Usage
For far too long, Linux has existed on the periphery of enterprise computing. Whether it is skepticism of open-source technology, a preference for paid instead of community support or the ever-forking tree of distributions, many businesses have shied away from Linux. In recent years, commercial Linux vendors have been hard at work polishing their distributions in the hope of establishing a beachhead in the enterprise. These mature distributions have rendered many past criticisms moot, and coupled with new opportunities in emerging technologies like virtualization, Linux stands poised to re-establish itself as an enterprise-caliber operating system. However, if these vendors are to be successful, they must take on the leviathan in the enterprise: Microsoft.
In this article, I discuss several areas of the enterprise that are prime candidates for Linux adoption or expansion. In each case, I look at the current Microsoft offering in that area and then highlight a legitimate Linux-based contender. In doing so, I do not intend to keep a running score card and come up with an unsurprisingly biased conclusion (this is Linux Journal after all). I merely want to start the conversation in order to demonstrate Linux's inherent business value and strengthen the community at large.
There are a few caveats before I proceed. For the purposes of this article, I have blurred the line between server and desktop platforms to keep the discussion at a strategic level. The topics I examine may touch upon aspects of one or both platforms. I also have limited the distributions used here to those with paid support, as they tend to be targeted at the enterprise market. With the exception of BIND and DHCP, I have avoided any technologies/packages, such as LAMP, Samba, Sendmail or any iconic Linux app I felt already has been beaten into the ground with comparisons. I want to bring something new to the table. Finally, this article does not tackle the thorny issue of application serving or application compatibility. We all know the vast majority of business apps are developed for the Microsoft platform. Wine and/or Mono are not the answers. Developing software to emulate another vendor's code always will leave Linux users behind their Microsoft counterparts. However, the rapid growth of Web-based apps, advancements in virtualization (application and desktop) and the arrival of cloud computing may change this dynamic in the near future as applications become separated from the desktop.
User Account Control (UAC) has been an essential part of Microsoft OSes since Vista. UAC protects the OS by requiring services and programs to operate with the correct permissions via security confirmation prompts. It is meant to limit the number of programs that run with unnecessary administrative privileges, a long-criticized weakness of applications developed for the Microsoft platform. Although UAC has received praise for making strides to eliminate this weakness, many admins have found that prolonged use leads some users simply to click Yes on the elevation prompts rather than evaluate the security risk. This leads to the elevation of non-desired programs, possibly to the detriment of the system. UAC can be complemented with the use of the Security Configuration Wizard that locks down unnecessary ports and services using a form-like survey to determine your minimum necessary configuration.
Security always has been an important component of the Linux pedigree. Utilities like sudo and chroot, which limit the context of certain programs and operations, long have been part of the Linux security toolbox. In the case of Debian-based distributions, root access is prohibited except through the use of sudo. Also, most distros now utilize either AppArmor or SELinux as an additional security layer at the host level. Although SELinux and AppArmor take different tacts to securing a system, each utilizes a least-privilege-based approach to minimizing the threat surface through the use of profiles. Although SELinux (Figure 1) has the distinction of being developed by the National Security Agency and of being extremely secure, it can be difficult to administer. By contrast, many admins believe AppArmor is just as effective and easier to configure. Novell includes a nice GUI tool for AppArmor in SUSE Enterprise Linux that includes a wizard for profiling applications that is a real time-saver (Figure 2).
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide