Microsoft Windows has long dominated the business and home desktop market but there is a new contender on the block in the shape of LINUX that is beginning to compete with Microsoft Windows on many different fronts. What is this LINUX and how does it compare and contrast with the Microsoft Windows operating system?
Microsoft Windows has been around since 1983 and it's present incarnation, Microsoft Windows 2000, owes its roots to Windows 3.x, Windows 9x, and Windows NT. LINUX has been around since 1991, for all of its newness, is the latest incarnation of the UNIX operating system which first came into existence in 1969.
Let's start by comparing the minimum hardware requirements specified by each vendor for both LINUX, using the popular Red Hat Linux 9 platform, and the different flavors of Microsoft Windows 2000 as outlined in the following chart:
Hardware / Operating System<Tab/>LINUX, Red Hat Linux 9<Tab/>Microsoft Windows 2000, Professional<Tab/>Microsoft Windows 2000, Server Processor<Tab/>Intel Pentium Class, 133 MHz<Tab/>Intel Pentium Class, 133 MHz<Tab/>Intel Pentium Class, 133 MHz Memory<Tab/>064 MB Text, 128 MB Graphic<Tab/>064 MB<Tab/>256 MB Hard Drive Space<Tab/>1750 MB, 5000 MB<Tab/>2000 MB<Tab/>2000 MB
On paper, the differences look surprisingly trivial don't they? In actuality, in each case the recommended setting are significantly higher based on the purpose of the system and the applications in use with the biggest change being in memory use on the Microsoft Windows 2000 platform where the recommended memory settings are 256 MB on Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional to 512 MB on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server.
As for pricing, how does LINUX compare against Microsoft Windows 2000? This is a difficult question to answer due to the additional questions of are we talking home user, academic, or corporate licensing and are we talking about a workstation or a server operating system?
From a home user's perspective, LINUX costs $0.00 compared to Microsoft Windows 2000's cost of $319.00. This seems like an easy choice but is made more complex due to the costs of Microsoft Windows 2000 being bundled into the costs of a new workstation and due to concerns over application compatibility and long term support costs.
From a corporate user and administrator's perspective, the costs do not break down as easy. On the workstation side, LINUX costs $179 to 299 compared to Microsoft Windows 2000's cost of $319.00 - these costs for LINUX vary depending on which support options and media options that you choose with the LINUX distribution. On the server side, LINUX costs anywhere from $399 to $799 for standard support while Microsoft Windows 2000 Server costs $999. This makes LINUX less attractive from a corporate workstation standpoint but more attractive as a corporate application or file server. However, these issues are further confused by debates over costs associated with applications for each platform and for which vendor provides the better support.
What about market share for each of these platforms? Take the following chart as an example of market share: Month Of 2005<Tab/>Win 2003<Tab/>Win 2000<Tab/>Win XP<Tab/>Win NT<Tab/>Win 9x<Tab/>Linux<Tab/>OS X 10<Tab/>1.60%<Tab/>15.00%<Tab/>70.20%<Tab/>0.40%<Tab/>2.80%<Tab/>3.30%<Tab/>3.20% 09<Tab/>1.70%<Tab/>15.80%<Tab/>69.20%<Tab/>0.50%<Tab/>3.20%<Tab/>3.30%<Tab/>3.10% 08<Tab/>1.70%<Tab/>17.50%<Tab/>66.30%<Tab/>0.60%<Tab/>3.20%<Tab/>3.30%<Tab/>2.90% 07<Tab/>1.60%<Tab/>17.70%<Tab/>65.30%<Tab/>0.60%<Tab/>3.90%<Tab/>3.50%<Tab/>3.00% 06<Tab/>1.50%<Tab/>19.10%<Tab/>64.90%<Tab/>0.70%<Tab/>3.60%<Tab/>3.50%<Tab/>3.00%...
References: Red Hat Linux 9 Release Notes, Hardware Requirements Retrieved October 28, 2005 from http://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/linux/RHL-9-Manual/release-notes/x86/
Microsoft Windows 2000 System Requirements Retrieved October 28, 2005 from http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/professional/evaluation/sysreqs/default.asp
Red Hat Linux 9 Support Options And Pricing Retrieved October 28, 2005 from http://www.redhat.com/en_us/USA/rhel/compare/client/
Microsoft Windows 2000 System Professional Operating Systems Review Retrieved October 28, 2005 from http://www.activewin.com/reviews/software/operating-sys/win2kpro/pricing.shtml
Miller, Scott. (29 April 1994.). A UNIX Tutorial Retrieved October 27, 2005 from http://www.cs.trinity.edu/Other_Attractions/UNIX/chapter6.html
Lee, Kenton. (March 1993). The 40 most common X programming errors. The Journal Retrieved October 27, 2005 from http://www.rahul.net/kenton/40errs.html#Error1
Academic Computing & Networking (2005, June). UNIX Application Software. Retrieved October 30, 2005, from http://www.umanitoba.ca/campus/acn/UNIX/software/appl_category.html
Cybersource (2004). LINUX vs. Windows - Total Cost of Ownership. Retrieved October 30,<Tab/>2005 from, http://members.iinet.net.au/~cybersrc/about/LINUX_vs_windows_tco_comparison.pdf
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