Compare Windows NT server with Unix operating system

Windows NT is one of the oldest popular Operating System famous for it's networking features back in it's prime time. UNIX was and still is one of the stable Operating System that attracts lots of usage worldwide. Read the comparison to know how each of these OS fare with.

Throughout the world, policy makers are faced with computer question: "Should I Use Microsoft Windows NT Server or rather one operating system family Unix ? "As you may know be aware, is not a Unix operating system specific, this word refers to a family of systems which includes AIX, BSDI, Digital Unix, FreeBSD, HP-UX, IRIX, Linux, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Pyramid, SCO, Solaris, SunOS, to mention only the most famous. Microsoft Windows NT Server is becoming increasingly popular, but it increases productivity for both IT departments? This is what you want first as a decision maker: Increase your margins in your business by choosing a Microsoft solution?

All this is to ask, what costs the least? The cost of hardware, software licenses, contracts, technical assistance, price updates and service kits, the cost of hardware upgrades, loss of earnings during each failure, human time lost when trying to find (or create new) data lost due to product defects (at the operating system and / or equipment necessary to operate the chosen operating system), and the cost system administrators, represent some of the expenses that will occur as a direct result of your decision. So do not take lightly.

Although as a policy maker, you do not want to hear about that money, given the complexity of the factors I just outlined, there may be a technically superior combination of hardware and operating systems is more economical in the long term. Unix is a set of operating systems mature and technically superior, and the testimony and records are not lacking that demonstrate its reliability, the good level of performance and security in a server environment. Almost thirty years of development tirelessly, often performed by volunteers convinced of the value of their work, gave birth to a group of operating systems --- and machine multi-processor servers extremely powerful tailor-made, performance and yet still unparalleled by Intel hardware --- who do not just meet the requirements of today's computers, but in many cases exceed them.

The causes of the adoption of MS-Windows NT in the corporate world would be interesting to study in the context of a relationship of psychology or marketing, but they have no place in a section dealing withcomputer. Technically, MS-Windows NT Server version 4.0 does not compare with any operating system Unix. He did not even suffer with non-commercial versions of BSD or Linux. It does not require a decision maker the same technical expertise that is expected of a system administrator with 15 years experience. There is no shame in not having the facts, but there has to ignore them, because this ignorance will cost money to your employer and, ultimately, to all your customers. This section is intended you explain these facts, and prove to you that these are indeed facts that no one can discuss.

My goal is to make life easier for system administrators to promote a computer more efficient and economical, and increase the diversity and open competition among software vendors.


The choice of platforms for servers may be difficult for policy makers who are not particularly experienced in the administration of systems and networks. In this paper, I compare MS-Windows NT server to Unix, a large family of systems operating commercial or otherwise, that share many similarities and a common heritage. We will pay particular attention here to the concepts of unctionality, reliability, system administration, and performance. This article talks about servers, not workstations. Other factors, such as product price, quantity and quality of software provided with the operating system, and a whole section covering ideas (incorrect) to About the two groups of environments are also presented to offer a more comprehensive overview of these products. The information used in this comparison come from many sources, manifestos, case studies by others, articles from periodicals techniques, and observations made by IT professionals who benefit from field experience in implementing and administering MS Windows NT and several flavors of Unix.


The costs of products and some remarks on licenses

Most makers will grant me that the price of the operating system is negligible naked if we consider all the expenses. Although more expensive than some operating systems like Unix business, NT server can be acquired at bargain prices during demonstrations of software.


NT is often chosen for budgetary reasons, because many consumers do not wish to acquire more expensive machines that most commercial Unix need. But what matters most is the total cost of implementation, which includes system administration as well as factors such as periods of outages, the cost of telephone calls to technical support, data loss due to instabilities, etc.. For a more detailed discussion on the hidden costs of NT, see Article fromInformationWeek following:

"The MS-Windows NT systems show lower prices than their Unix equivalents, but the maintenance and support requirements can make them much more expensive to operate."
--- Martin J. Garvey, The hidden cost of NT, InformationWeek, July 20, 1998.

Tippett Studio, a company responsible for special effects in the film Starship Troopers (Space Patrol), who was nominated for an Oscar for the title of best special effects, use 130-type machines (Silicon Graphics, Inc..) under IRIX, which is the version of the Unix operating system-specific IMS. He explains why they chose a solution SGI IRIX instead of a solution under NT:

"The IMS is cheap compared to services rendered," said Jeff Stringer, head of studio operations Tippett. The cost of maintaining a set under NT is very high when one considers the system administrators required to run it. "
"The smaller studios are very sensitive to the number of hires. Unlike the giants of the profession, Tippett --- who designed the insects that threaten humanity in `` Starship Troopers''is a --- small shop with special effects. "

--- Greg Lindsay, Oscar Tech, The Netly News, February 27, 1998.

For customers the most economical, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, or OpenBSD are the choices that will be necessary. They cost nothing, and yet these systems are as stable and offer as many features, if not more, than the operating systems like Unix business.

Journalists and R. Scott Raynovich Polly Sprenger of LAN Times are indirectly enhances the flexibility of the design of software whose source code is open in their recent article on Linux and how commercial organizations can benefit:

"... You can download Linux for free on the Internet or obtain low cost, with help and documentation in a large number of traders. This makes it an attractive product for companies trying to reduce the cost of their operating systems, both licenses at the level of maintenance. "
--- R. Scott Raynovich and Polly Sprenger, Linux legitimacy rallies NT skeptics, LAN Times, August 17, 1998.

In the recent cover story on Linux appeared in Software Magazine, Ann Harrison noted how companies, even the largest, are in the deployment of Linux servers as a cheaper alternative solutions offered by Microsoft:
"Randy Kessell, manager of technical analysis to an operations center in the Southwestern Bell Company, notes that because Linux allows his company to do more remote network administration and climb higher software support that this does is possible with Microsoft products or NetWare, it is making significant savings on their costs of network management. "
--- Ann Harrison, In Linux we place our hope, Software Magazine, cover article, September 1998.

The existence of alliances such as those mentioned in the article Andreessen think Mozilla on Linux has had enough of MS-Windows clearly shows that Linux is becoming increasingly present in the commercial environment. (Note that Mozilla is the name given to the code of Netscape / Communicator, and Marc Andreessen is the co-founder and vice president of products of Netscape Inc.).. Another alliance that deserves mention is that between Sun Microsystems to Linux International. (Slashdot : Sun joins Linux International, May 21, 1998). Another recent development is the very special relationship that Corel has with Linux:
"...Corel, which already has the plan to make a computer network based on Linux, said that next month they would bring into line on their website development tools for Linux, joining it in the many other development companies that support the movement of software whose source code is open, on the model of Linux. "
--- Erich Luening, Corel participate in the celebration of Linux, CNET News.Com, May 8, 1998.

Recent headlines indicate that Linux is on track to make its merry way in larger companies: Informix and Oracle ready to bring their programs on Linux (PCWeek Online, July 20, 1998), Oracle is poised to increase its base Data on Linux (PCWeek Online, July 20, 1998), and For Netscape, Linux is the number one priority (CNET News.Com, April 7, 1998).

Historically, large companies have avoided any interaction with free software because of the unfounded assumption that anything that is free is worthless. The latest fashion among these companies is to use these economic systems. Hewlett-Packard used Linux instead of their own operating system, HP-UX "to bring the Carnegie Mellon Mach kernel on HP PA-RISC to use imagery in their work." (Read document). Schlumberger chose Linux to SCO for its new point of sale terminal. (Linux Journal, November 1997, No. 43, pp. 83-4) It is interesting to note that SunWorld On-Line Linux speaks in glowing terms in one of his articles, Linux is aligned to business.

The cover story of September 1998 Magazine Software Magazine reveals how important Linux has managed to infiltrate the services of the United States of America and that this is not about to stop;

"Tim Payne, director of marketing database company Oracle, said that many are among the corporate clients of his company made substantial investments in Linux solutions. When Oracle announced in July that he would offer assistance 24 h / 24, 7 / 7 Oracle8 software for Linux, it says they received 300 calls the day after claiming the date it was available. `` It's reliable, it is tested, it conveniently runs on Intel machines, and it is a real alternative to NT for a low cost,''said Payne. `` The possibility of obtaining the part of Oracle support worthy of a company for deployment on this platform will help customers to adopt Linux.''"
--- Ann Harrison, In Linux we place our hope, Software Magazine, cover article, September 1998.

As these operating systems are free (and free) even for use in a commercial environment, many service providers for Internet use Linux or FreeBSD. NetBSD is proposed to virtually all known machines: DEC Alpha, Motorola 68k (Amiga, Atari, Mac, MVME, Sharp, Sun3), PowerPC, Intel, DEC VAX, Acorn RISC, MIPS (Sony NEWS, DECstation), etc.. The primary goal of OpenBSD is the accuracy and security. Linux is the most popular and works on a panel of hardware: Sun, Intel, DEC Alpha, PowerPC, PowerMac, etc.. Recent articles by Paul Krill in InfoWorld ( Linux is gaining speed and supporters rallied to Linux plume OSS ) focus on growing the assistance provided by merchants and future plans of additional features, ie the possibility of working with the Merced processor 64-bit Intel Corporation. Today, Linux is Perhaps, of all operating systems on the market, one whose market share is growing the fastest. For more information, refer to resources for Linux and Red Hat Software.
Nicholas Petreley, editor in chief of NC World and editor for InfoWorld and NT World Japan proposes an explanation for the rise of Linux and FreeBSD in IT departments:

Yesterday, the students learned about Unix systems with Linux or FreeBSD. Today they work in computer services, and many are openly hostile to both Microsoft and MS-Windows NT. As a result, Linux, BSD, Solaris, and all forms of Unix make their merry way in business computing, uncovered as harmless. "
"For example, are you sure you connect to a server under NT when you're at work? Technicians many companies have secretly installed UNIX servers that provide services with NT. Why take such a risk? Linux and FreeBSD are free, as well as SAMBA, the software that provides NT services. Thus, the department saves money. And it is unlikely that policy makers are discovering that Unix is pulling the strings because fewer people are complaining that the server is down. "

"Fewer people are complaining, because these servers are more stable than Unix MS-Windows NT. Linux, FreeBSD, BSDI Unix and MS-Windows NT leave behind on the modest hardware, and in certain circumstances, may equal or surpass the best equipment available. Once left behind in the war of adaptation to machines of various sizes, Unix on Intel catches up delay and may soon surpass NT in the number of processors and run the way he uses them. "

--- Nicholas Petreley, New Unix disrupt the orbit of NT: the re-emergence of Unix threat that will take the path NT, NC World, April 1998.

The newspaper The Economist itself now realizes the growing popularity of Linux:

"Oracle software firm, plans to offer versions of some of its software for Linux ... Even without such support, Linux has enjoyed great success. In just a few years, the program has changed the status of a toy than bitouilleur software technically superior to MS-Windows NT, at least in part. "
--- Stephen Morley, Revenge of bitouilleurs * The Economist, week of 11 to 17 July 1998. * The hyperlink is gone, but you can buy this article to the newspaper The Economist via their online archive.


What to expect when pulling a NT box or when pulling a Unix box? NT can communicate with many different types of computers. Unix also. NT can ensure the security of sensitive data and keep unauthorized users off the network referenced. Unix also. In fact, they both have the qualities necessary for an operating system running in a network environment. Briefly, Unix can do everything that NT can do, and more.
Often seen as an NT operating system multi-user, but it's really misleading. NT server will validate a registered user, but once it is connected, all he can do it ' is accessing files and printers. The user under NT can not use any application on NT server (to take advantage of the computational power of the hardware that hosts the server). A user in NT that can run specific applications that were written in two pieces, that is to say, client / server applications. When a user connects to a Unix server, it can run n ' matter what application (provided he is allowed), which allows him to lighten the load on his personal workstation. This also includes GUI applications, since the software graphics servers are common to all operating systems like Unix.

In most companies, email is a communication tool, and most companies operate their own internal systems and external email. With MS-Windows NT, you need to buy a software package for independent power to up a mail server. The Unix operating systems come with a program called sendmail (literally, sends mail). There are other software packages to mail servers (or MTA, which means the mail transport agents) on Unix that it is most common, and it's free. Some UNIX administrators feel that exim or qmail are better choices because they are not too difficult to configure than sendmail. Exim, qmail, like sendmail, are free to use, even in a commercial environment. Many companies that use NT using the Microsoft Exchange as MTA. It is an expensive solution that meets mixed success in an environment enterprise. The Microsoft Exchange Server Enterprise, with a CAL for 25 customers, costs 3 549 USD. If you have more than 25 employees, the same package, with an access license for 50 clients, costs 4 859 USD. (Source: Microsoft ) For more information on this topic see comparison Microsoft Exchange / Sendmail: the views of other computer professionals.

Since Microsoft sees NT as a viable replacement for all other operating systems capable of running networks, including Unix and NetWare, you might think that NT comes with all the tools necessary to accomplish the simplest of tasks: service files and printers. Any system administrator or network knows it must take into account two important issues when setting up a file server or adding a new user of the network: Security is to say, passwords and permissions on resources and quotas for limiting disk space occupied by the new (and old) users (or groups of users). It is true that NT provides basic security with passwords, but it does security at the file system if one makes the choice of proprietary file system called NTFS. What is even more important, unfortunately, c is that NT does not propose any mechanism to limit the disk space used by a user! Unix and Netware propose them, software to check this seems pretty basic. Microsoft has announced, however, that the NT server version 5.0 , which is not yet available, will offer "new storage management features such as disk quota ..." (see their press release the beta version of MS-Windows NT 5.0 was sent to over 200 000 developers).

Another design flaw related to disk and presents the following operating systems from Microsoft is this ancient practice of designating the record by a "letter", that is to say the drive C:, drive D:, etc.. This scheme imposes hardware specific limitations as system administrators and users. It is inappropriate in client / server environments where network shares and file systems are supposed to represent hierarchies understandable by humans. Unix allows you to mount shared file systems at any one point directory structure. Under Unix, by sharing network can also span multiple disk drives (or even on multiple machines!), Allowing administrators to maintain the directory structure pre-existing and known by users, while allowing them to extend the disk space available on the server, making such changes to the system transparent to the user. The only difference between the operating systems Unix and Windows underscores the original intentions of their respective designers: Unix was designed as a client operating system / server used by professionals, so that MS-Windows and its successor resulting from MS-DOS, which is an operating system that has never pretended to play in the yard of client / server environments, and even less in the servers. For more information on this subject, you can read the article by Nicholas Petreley We will need fewer disks for most operating systems PC work like Unix.

My argument, and not least, is that operating systems like Unix are equipped with scripting languages (Bourne Shell, Korn Shell, C Shell, Perl and sometimes, just to name a few each) and specificity called cron to specify that certain tasks must be undertaken at intervals determined (all n minutes, every n hours, once a week, once per month, etc.).. The setting of these frequencies or dates of onset is highly configurable and not limited to the examples I give here. Basically, scripting languages High-level + = cron a powerful resource for system administration, a resource of which there is no equivalent under MS-Windows NT Server 4.0. Much of system administration Unix is automated and personalized in the case of site-specific needs through the use of these tools, resulting in a reduction of costs related to human activity.

As one of my readers pointed out, NT has a "trigger task manager" and a command does, and the Perl language is available for NT. Yes, this is right, however, I do not think the environment cmd.exe limited NT, combined with the "trigger task manager" or the command "at" can happen to the ankles of functionalities offered by Unix tools I mentioned. A reader, Neil McKellar, has provided an excellent example that is consistent with this assertion. Use automated tasks is useful only when scripts / tasks / executables can be run without human intervention . Most of the software for NT are encapsulated in a graphical interface, which involves interaction with a human. When examined realistically, we see that the types of tasks used in most sites are specific routines were programmed by system administrators. My own field experience tells me that we do not encounter Perl on a small number of sites that rely on NT, and rare is the NT administrator who would have only heard about it from Perl. The same force that incites to trim the material goes hand in hand with the bad habit of hiring managers NT cheapest market, after all, NT, simply click with the mouse!

To summarize, when one is housed on a network NT, all we can do is read files and print. In a Unix environment, once it was housed on the server, it can be done on this machine and above all we could do if we used his keyboard and mouse! With NT, expect not provide a mail server with the software available. You will need to purchase separate software for mail servers such as Microsoft Exchange costly. If you plan to use your server as an NT file server --- after all, what can you ask for? --- Do not feel able to prevent users from dropping down the service by filling the disk with their data.

Ease of configuration and can do so without stopping the service represents yet another aspect of the functionality of a server:

"Some versions of Unix (eg Linux) are able to dynamically load modules management devices. This means that the system can boot Linux and reconfigure its management capabilities of the hardware and software on the fly. For example, you can boot Linux without it supports a SCSI interface installed. Simply load the driver for the SCSI card when you need to access one or more SCSI devices connected, such as an optical disc for periodic backups. It can erase from memory the SCSI driver when you no longer need. Similarly, you can load (and then forgetting) dynamically drivers for sound cards, network cards --- and even file systems such as HPFS, FAT, VFAT, and others (an NTFS driver is still in the workshop). "
"Everything Unix offering dynamic loading of modules is thus inherently more appropriate for a server environment because most configuration changes do not require re-booting the system."

"MS-Windows NT is far behind. Even minor changes to its configuration require or demand a shutdown and a re-boot for the changes to take effect. Change the IP address of your default gateway and you must re-boot. We can not even change the type of modem used for PPP dial-up connections without re-booting to bring the system up to date. Unix does not suffer these limitations. "

--- Nicholas Petreley, New Unix disrupt the orbit of NT: the re-emergence of Unix threat that will take the path NT, NC World, April 1998.

When we start talking about more sophisticated networking features, it looks like Microsoft NT Server version 4.0, is not even worthy to untie the shoes of operating systems like Unix business, more mature. Even if it is not essential to network performance, 64-bit arithmetic is present today in these operating systems like Unix (NT is always 32 bits). The company DH Brown Associates Inc.. reports the results of its analysis as follows (the following quotation, as the table and three graphs that were just below, are excerpts from a website site of Digital Equipment Corporation, known as AIX 4.3 the plunge to 64 bits in a fierce battle with Digital Unix 4.0):

AIX 4.3 takes the lead in features Internet / intranet offering the widest set of extensions to TCP / IP and offering more one server "Notes" integrated. Digital Unix advanced to second place with opportunities for network security powerful, integrating not only opportunities to surf the web, but also tools for writing Web sites, as Navigator Gold, and a robust set of extensions to TCP / IP. However, Digital UNIX lacks advanced features like CacheFS and AutoFS. IRIX 6.4 places third, integrating CacheFS, AutoFS, and network security features almost as strong as those of Digital. But it lacks specific IRIX as a time server (NTP) and opportunities TCP / IP as IPv6 and IPsec. Sun comes next, with good support for NFS functions and second in the table for the extensions to TCP / IP. However, Sun relies on its own web server, instead of using the Netscape, Microsoft or Apache, and lacks some writing tools and websites that important services such as directory service NDS Novell . HP offers a good service for the Internet in HP-UX, encouraged by the good impression he made in the advanced Internet protocol and network security, while struggling to provide good service for NFS. HP-UX and Aix, has also taken the lead by being compatible with NDS. While Microsoft NT 4.0 provides solutions Internet / intranet across can be described as "good," NT fisheries vis-à- vis Unix vendors for lack of proposals for directory services, network security, NFS, and some extensions to TCP / IP. Microsoft has focused its efforts on integrating its Web browser and on the development of its Java Virtual Machine.


Features of Internet / Intranet


Reliability and scaling


System Management



Nowadays, it generally gives more importance to reliability than pure speed. While performance depends largely on the hardware platform is the reliability that is most dependent on the choice of operating system. An operating system has just offer more functionality, adapt more easily to change of scale, and make system management easier, what can these benefits when financial transactions in real time passing on the server are constantly interrupted by breakdowns that stop the activity so unacceptable? can faithfully represent MS-Windows NT by analogy with a car fast, cheap, full of gadgets and sporty, which is frequently stuck in traffic jams despite frequent visits to the garage approved.

Any computer scientist who worked in an environment under MS-Windows NT familiar with the infamous "blue screen of death" that is to say, the situation in which the windowing system's usual desktop disappears to make way for a screen full of hexadecimal numbers on a blue background. To recover use of his machine must then re-boot. The causes of "blue screens" in NT are different. From my own experience, the following can cause this state of failure:

  • When using both IPX / SPX and TCP / IP and technicians connect a machine with a static IP address on a different subnet;

  • When certain applications written in Visual Basic 16-bit only work not to "separate memory space". By default, NT does not execute in a separate memory space. This is a setting manual is to be repeated for each 16-bit application that is used on the machine;

  • Some brands of memory modules or cache will cause this, even if the same equipment running smoothly in other operating systems like MS-Windows 95,.

  • In some situations, Linux also may complain of equipment has been assigned. I have not seen it personally though I installed Linux on a variety of materials, but this can occur.This happens mainly when compiling the kernel on a machine whose memory is bad.A system under NT may fail in both ways different than giving a small number of cases you will surely give a bad impression. your list is even more misleading than your causes are largely due to the presence of a human on the console that will disable a bad action. Most of the reasons why a system with NT crashes occur inadvertently in the daily operations (in fact, allow the system to run too long while running a myriad of applications can cause bizarre failures, leaving no clues as to their causes). In addition, malicious users can cause a failure due to the introduction of some weird software modules such as the login program (ISA) or the TCP / IP.

    The "blue screen of death" may be commonplace in some programming environments and it is often difficult to reverse because the error messages that accompany it are cryptic or nonexistent. In addition, NT, used on the Intel hardware is very sensitive to virus attacks. For operating systems on Intel hardware to be booted from a hard drive, ie NT server, the boot sector's main hard disk (MBR) may be the cause of death operating system. Linux, and several other operating systems like Unix that run on Intel hardware, can load a kernel stored compressed on disk, which avoids this problem. This means that theoretically, an NT server can fail due to a virus attack wrote ten years ago for computers running MS-DOS. Anyone planning to deploy a solution under NT in a critical environment needs to think about it. I personally encountered MBR viruses in a professional environment under MS-Windows NT 4.0 (with no client in Windows 95!), and these viruses have had devastating effects. Moreover, most viruses that could damage an operating system MS-Windows have no effect on an operating system like Unix, since they often need the MS-Windows environment to strike.
    The director of the department of information systems of printing at the University of Nebraska, Quinn P. Coldiron, recounts a real situation where the reliability of NT is called into question:

    "After moving Cats [an inventory system that helps to fulfill the orders] on NT, our life became a nightmare. The system crashes two or three times a day and I can not guess the question. I spent my day on the phone with Microsoft and the editor of Cats, but nobody understood what was happening. Microsoft suggested I apply the latest numbers 1-3 and some other programs to repair and it was revered useful, but `` the infamous blue screen of death''still taunting me at least twice a week. Many weeks later, after spending more than 1500 USD with Microsoft hotline, the assistant on the phone suggested I find a better software package than The Cat's Pajamas ``''(the cat's pajamas). This is not the answer I wanted, because this package is that a significant proportion of printing using our size across the country, so I was forced to recall the old Netware server service time to find something else ... Fourteen months later, we use a Linux server. "

    The Unix equivalent of the "blue screen of death" is called "kernel panic (kernel panic). Its existence is no doubt, since I've heard and I read articles about it, but I have seen in my professional career. Even if I am persuaded that Unix servers fall down sometimes, such events are extremely rare. If a Unix server fails, c is almost always due to hardware failure. Any problem due to software in a Unix environment, usually hear from him for some time, sometimes in the form of a degradation of overall system performance, leaving the administrator all the time needed to isolate the problem, fix it, and stop and restart the process (it is only very rarely that we must re-boot the machine!) fault. In general it stops a Unix server in the following situations:

  • Because such a hardware failure, a disk drive fails;

  • We must replace some of the equipment;

  • Electricity was cut longer than the battery backup could endure;

  • It is the kernel update;

  • We use a beta version of the kernel (which is not recommended in production environments)

  • In the absence of one of these causes is being measured in years time operating system Unix. NT, meanwhile, can boast of such periods of faithful service . Even if we managed to eliminate the "blue screen of death," NT is ossified by its own design and the use of binary configuration files in a proprietary format that are difficult to build again, for example, the registry of NT.

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