My response to Mr. Williams'
"evaluation" of Linux ["Is Linux ready for the enterprise?," October 1999,
p. 92] was one of the few published in the December 1999 issue of ADT.
I am concerned about being portrayed as an unreasonable defender of Linux
who lashed out at Mr. Williams ["Can Linux survive its unreasonable defenders?,"
December 1999, p. 6].
This ‘unreasonable defender'
is both an HP-UX and NT administrator with many years of experience in
the Unix and Windows realms. While editorials in general can be slanted,
when someone describes an experience with a product with the intent to
praise or criticize it, I expect to be able to agree or disagree with
the view presented. I also want to be reasonably certain that the person
who offered praise or criticism is knowledgeable and credible. The difficulties
experienced by Mr. Williams were not unusual. Anyone installing an operating
system can run into problems. Had Mr. Williams not included information
that led me to conclude that he has no business installing OSes, I would
not have felt compelled to respond to his article.
Is it not reasonable to challenge
how a person prepares to evaluate a product when that person makes statements
that will lead others to conclude that an otherwise stable product is
less than stable? How am I supposed to engage in a debate about Linux
in IT organizations if I find the other party's credibility questionable?
We expect OS installation
programs to handle everything for us. This should not be the end goal
for an OS installation program. As a system administrator, I have to know
my hardware and how the OS works with it, or I can't do my job effectively.
Mr. Williams' expectations, while not completely unreasonable, should
have been complemented by a more thorough knowledge of the hardware he
was working with. Instead, he was his own worst enemy.
I was quite disappointed by
John Williams' column "Is Linux ready for the enterprise?" [October 1999,
p. 92]. Mr. Williams had a difficult time installing Linux because he
had faulty hardware and tried to configure a sound card while setting
a machine to use as a server. How many servers have sound cards?
Having installed many different
OSes, I have found the current versions of Linux to be the easiest to
install. The extensive documentation, combined with the use of virtual
terminals, gives the installer far more information about what is happening
during the install than most other OSes.
I also found it interesting
that Mr. Williams did not take his problems to Usenet. Linux has a reputation
for having good peer support through the Internet newsgroups. When I had
a particular problem during an install of Caldera's OpenLinux 2.2, I received
the correct solution to my problem no less than seven hours after posting
to comp.os.linux.caldera. Caldera's tech support took over two weeks to
respond to the same problem.
I find Mr. Williams' remarks
incredulous because he points out how Windows NT is much easier to install.
It is not easier to install. Rather, Windows NT is usually what comes
pre-installed on a server.
Linux shines at applying fixes.
With RedHat Linux, you only need to download all the fixes into the same
directory and use a single rpm command to apply all of the patches. Only
in exceptional circumstances does one need to reboot Linux after a patch.
With Windows NT, installation is a continuous cycle of installing and
Linux is not without its problems.
Linux does have many areas where it needs to be improved (it lacks a journalizing
file system, and Linux on Intel has some memory and file system size restrictions).
I just feel that Mr. Williams is being disingenuous when he finds fault
with Linux for being difficult because he installed it on a machine with