Comparing Windows to UNIX

Caleb Herbert wanted to respond to this article found on Microsoft’s site: Compare Windows to UNIX. I’m publishing Caleb’s email in full, without edits – since I’m just a community mouthpiece, not a community editor:

Dear Chris,

I’m a Linux fanboy, and this comparison makes me mad.

I do know that *nix is out of date, but that’s sort of what I love about it. However, even though it is out of date, will *nix become obsolete? It’s built around an evolutionary development, so is it possible? If anyone wants to end Linux, it must be someone who migrates the best of Linux / BSD / Darwin, and makes a new ‘species’ of an OS that evolves from UNIX.

Plus, the new simplicity of a modular (and?) monolithic kernel make it wonderful – never have to configure or install anything, just uncomment or add one line to a text file and BAM! Your trackpad works with every feature being customized to your liking (no limitations, even possibly making it run a script).

I’ve grown to loving the UI that Linux and BSD provide (so long as everything works minimally without hacking) that I would hate to see it become obsolete when I grow up. I want to see it evolve and stay secure, while keeping the ability to stay very small. (The reason why I say ‘ability’ is because we still need 1,000,000 default drivers in the kernel, but when we install a system, we will need to have the easy-button that says ‘erase redundant drivers’).

I know I am being gullible about M$’s campaign, but with the case of Business and Getting things Done (T not used so as to not confuse with ‘GTD’), I think that they are right. Most people cannot do things very efficiently writing their school assignments in LaTeX or text-teletype{groff} and maintaining their websites’ contents with text-teletype{ vi } — oh, and also don’t forget to generate your images with emphasize{ only } postscript! Is UNIX out-of-date? Should I be worried about using a system that is ‘stuck in the times’? Eventually, the way UNIX works will become too much of a legacy method. I am frightened to face the thought that this is likely to happen in my lifetime, since computers have yet to change their UI implementations away from the 70s and early 80s. (Note: Don’t correct me, (English ScD.) Dr. Chris; the absence of apostrophes just makes the most logical sense, and I am more than willing to sacrifice that disgraceful lingual tradition!)

So, do you think this decade I will be taking up to learn UNIX be wasted? Has it had its time, and is overdue and “the poor old, weak grandpa?” Will it just evolve, and will standards stay Free?

Best Regards,

P.S. Knowing that the answer will be null-and-a-half, I should probably post this to Geeks or somewhere else…. (An ellipsis plus a period; is this bad PUGS?) And I don’t *hate* MS Windose, but I really don’t feel passionate about using it personally… I just can’t play with it! PC-guy is an accurate personality for Windows: he just does *not* like to play! On the other hand, Mac and *nix have a bit of activity in them, unlike “PC.” Don’t count games as “playing;” games are just simple programs that a PC just does as “Okay, I’m doing your job now…”, but it doesn’t make ‘him’/it “stretch.” :-)

P.S. #2: Sorry for leaving two post scripts, and making one postscript with 2 ideas and subjects.

13 thoughts on “Comparing Windows to UNIX”

  1. It’s a pretty bizarre comparison. If it were about Windows as a desktop/laptop/workstation OS vs. Linux/Unix/BSD (and by that I’m not including the commercial and polished Mac OS X) I could see more of the argument. Trying to say that Windows server is more stable than Unix is far fetched. And when you consider that one old bearded Unix guy can probably run a dozen Unix machines that would need to be replaced by a hundred Windows machines, managed by 4 guys, the cost of maintenance argument isn’t going to work, either. It’s so silly a comparison you shouldn’t get too upset over it. :)

  2. The MS article is just a big fat wad of bullcrap ad copy. The phrase “have evolved to become the most popular platform for the next generation of business applications” is pure rhetoric. Obviously it isn’t already the most popular, as that next generation of applications is in the future. Read “evolved to become” as “evolved with the intention of becoming”. It’s a classic marketing language ploy.

    And they talk as if unix people are a rarity, which is simply a load of crap. The systems are still in broad use, so the demand for people who know how to run them is still there. There is no reason for unix heads to become rare.

    As for user interface, sure, unixoid operating systems still have the text console. But so does Windows. The difference is that in Windows, once the GUI is running you can only access the command-line interface in a window, whereas under most unixoids, your can also switch to a pure text mode console that is completely independant of the GUI. (And the suite of command-line utilities blows the doors off of Windows’ offerings.)

    There are several GUIs for the unixoids—at least two of which are very robust, and user friendly.

    Windows’ primary appeal is to those who are already familiar with it—or don’t realise that they have a choice.

    Meanwhile—as long as you chose to (rather derisively) draw attention to it—your composition sucks!

    An elipsis after a period, in and of itself, is not a problem. The presence of the elipsis was the problem there. An elipsis indicates omission of something; it is not a general purpose way to end a sentence.

    Apostrophes in contractions (you’re, must’ve, ’80s) also stand for omission. Leaving them out of contracted years does not make logical sense. The late ’70s can refer to the time of the American Revolution. But it usually refers to when disco spewed upon the music world. The late 70s always refers to the time in which Mount Vesuvius spewed upon Pompei. (Disco doesn’t seem so bad in that light—or dark, as the case may be.)

    I’m not going to get too much into “modular” and “monolithic”, as i’m not sure where the line is to be drawn with kernels. But they are opposite terms. A kernel can’t be both—at least not in the same context (e.g. building versus running).

    [I probably should have split this into two comments.]

  3. [Hey! It censored the polite (c) version of a word (s). The editor may feel free to change it to “garbage” or “excrement” or such. The **** are icky.]

  4. Unix is great and awesome for large amounts of data if it does die Im sure it will be replaced by something even better

  5. It’s FUD, plain and simple, and it’s what Microsoft specializes in. Instead of giving valid arguments they spread useless crap that’s designed to scare people into thinking Windows is the only way to go.

    Apple’s marketing appeals to the desire to get shiny new stuff, while Microsofts is ‘you’ll lose money if you don’t choose us’. Either way it’s annoying, but at least Apple doesn’t scare you into thinking ‘nothing else will work’.

  6. “…someone who migrates the best of Linux / BSD / Darwin, and makes a new ’species’ of an OS that evolves from UNIX.”

    Isn’t that what Steve Jobs tried to do with OS X?

    As far as UNIX becoming obsolete soon, it seems that way unless somebody can redesign the kernel to be more up to date with modern hardware.

  7. Unknown to most folks, including many geeks, is that the internet runs on UNIX. It always has and always will for the same reasons that most of the gargantuan data resources that run our big legacy businesses, banks, and government still run on ancient IBM mainframes. Once a monstrously large infrastructure is in place it is nearly impossible to dislodge.

  8. Then why was M$ so interested in acquiring a Linux distribution a few years back?

    As kernels *nix systems will continue to exist, simply because they are easily extended for new hardware. The GUI shell is separate from the kernel and as new paradigms come and go so can new GUI shells.

    Windows by M$’ own admission is stuck on Little Endian hardware. Even embedded XP is only available for x86 hardware while their CE offerings have wider hardware support.

    When new CPU architectures become available, Linux will be there for the early hackers.

    Will Linux become as mainstream as Windows? Probably not any time soon, but as M$ continues to add bloat for functionality that is not conducive to it business customers, those business customers will migrate to operating systems like Linux where they can choose how to best support their user base.

    As a programmer, if I write portable code for *nix platforms, it can be easily ported onto windows, but if I first write the code for windows, there is a lot of stuff that needs to be rewritten to port into the *nix world.


  9. Unix/Linux will be with us in one form or another as long as there are hackers (in the original, true sense of the word). Unix systems just work – they sit there for weeks, months, years doing their job without needing constant attention. Yes, you can continually tweak your system, but I’ve got Unix servers at client sites that have not been rebooted or gone down for other than massive power outages in years. You just can’t do that with a Windows box. Try leaving your Exchange server alone for a month and see what happens.

    No both OSs will be here for quite a while. Due to marketing momentum, and market share, I do not see Windows being displaced in the short run. Over the long haul – who knows?

  10. FUD from MS? How can that be? The same company who underhandedly funded The SCO Group in its lawsuits when they thought SCO owned the SysV IP only to sign a contract to help fund and “market” SUSE Linux when it was proven Novell indeed held the IP?

    The same company who kept calling Apple’s Macintosh a toy until more code wranglers wrote games for DOS/Windows, then changed their story that Apple was unfriendly without enogh decent software, especially for entertainment?

    Microsoft is doing all it can to do as much economic damage to those who threaten it since thanks to Vista (Windows ME II), they find themselves in a worse quandry than Apple’s Copland period. They’ve already renounced the 9x kernel because of its inherent limitations and now thanks to grafting 9x code onto its NT base, its limitations are becoming glaring (DirectX e.g.).

    I personally think they’re spreading FUD and attempting to tweak current code because they truly cover *nix and the flexibility it’s demonstrated.

    If they can wrangle themselves into owning SysV (the only *nix code they can legally own, btw) they will finally find code stability and flexibility they’ve constantly said Windows had and was proven time and again to fall short on.

    So, MS, please stop the FUD and publicity machine and… Fix. Your. Code.

  11. Oh yeah, that’s covet *nix, not cover. ;) Although they’d probably “cover” it if they could. Maybe that’s what the NT kernel was supposed to be, a “cover” of *nix kernels. hmmm…

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