Performance Lab Tests Pit Linux Against Windows NT

Silicon Valley-based Mindcraft, an independent testing organization, released results from a series of performance tests they ran pitting the underdog Linux operating system (OS) against its arch-rival and nemesis, Windows NT. On the surface, the winner would appear to be NT.

Mindcraft was subject to a barrage of criticism from the Linux community regarding configurations and test site access for open-source experts. After its first two tests, Mindcraft proposed and conducted a third, with members of Microsoft, Red Hat and PC Week (the sponsor) allowed in as witnesses. File-server tests were run on Linux/Samba and web-server tests were run on Linux/Apache.

The results show, quite simply, that NT outperforms Linux. But according to Sam Ockman, President of Penguin Computing — a provider of Linux-based hardware solutions — things are not that simple.

Performance VS. Reliability, Stability, Security and Expandability

“The tests provide useful data,” commented Ockman, but the relevance of that data might be questionable. “Imagine, for instance, that there was a test that proved that a Ford could corner better than a Chevy at 120 m.p.h. The result of such a study, while technically accurate, would not be relevant to many customers.”

“Both Windows and Linux are fast enough for normal corporate users,” added Ockman, “but Linux is far superior to Windows NT in four very important categories that were not considered in the tests: reliability, stability, security and expandability. These are some of the most important factors for any IT manager in making a purchasing decision.”

Shootouts at the OS Corral

In the recent Microsoft antitrust trial, a company lawyer presented an e-mail, of dubious credibility, with the subject line, “Linux is beating Windows.” Although the move was transparent to many observers — and even the judge, who nonetheless admitted it — it underscores a war that is both ongoing and escalating.

There are signs of Microsoft’s seriousness — including a team the company has assembled to evaluate the competitive challenge that Linux represents. Microsoft President Steve Ballmer told a conference last month, according to a CNET report, that his company is “thinking through what strategy to make (their) source code, or parts of their source code, more available to customers.”

Although some involved in the Linux market — including Corel, who are stepping up their open-source software development efforts — speak of coexistence, a combat mentality is evident on both sides. According to a ZDNet report, Chicago-based Neal Nelson & Associates will run the next round of Linux versus NT testing in August, with open, direct lab access available to all parties.

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