Linux on the desktop

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Postposted on Sat Dec 29, 2001 1:20 am

This seems to be a hot topic in many circles these last few months. I personally think it was never meant to be. There are too many clueless users who are set in their ways for anything to change now.

Anybody have a differing opinion?

Should we just let the Win32 fans run themselves into a hole in the ground while we laugh, or should we continue trying to show them what else is out there?

Should we write Code Red II that formats all local disks? Would it help or hurt?
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Postposted on Sat Dec 29, 2001 1:54 pm

first, let's define our terms. When you say "linux on the desktop" you apparently mean "linux on the mainstream desktop". If that's indeed what you mean, then I don't think it will ever happen. I too think there are too many clueless users set in their ways. When all the stink was flying around about XP's registration scheme, I thought everyone was up in arms, and would never use it. I know I took that stand personally. But right after XP was released, at the monthly lan party we have in OKC there were people happily passing around XP CDs and installing it! I was actually quite surprised. I suppose I should realize that not everyone visits /. every day. On the other hand, these were, to a man, gamers. If it weren't for the fact that my primary reason for owning a computer was playing games, I'd have made the move away from M$ products a long time ago. But blame it on the developers, the publishers, or even wine, you just can't play all the sweet new games without some version of MS Windows.
Anyhoo, even in the business world where games shouldn't be a concern, I don't think linux will catch on any time soon. Maybe it's the lack of a "standard" desktop environment. The Ximian/Gnome/KDE (to name just the biggies) choice is itself enough to scare off a lot of corporate types. And what's with the apparent LOVE for MS I see at so many levels of business? Don't they know that Microsquish is evil incarnate?!? Again, I should probably take a step back and realize that not everyone so closely resembles the zealot paradigm as I do.
And about that virus thing. While a big portion of the blame for virus vulnerability in their products does lay at MS's feet, let's not forget that without (l)user help, a lot of viruses would never harm anything. And there's nothing inherent to linux that makes it impregnable to a virus. Harder to, uhh, "preg" than a Windows machine maybe, but not immune. And if linux was to catch on with the various masses, I could certainly craft a virus that would render their linux machine unusable. Especially when you consider just how securely those machines would have been set up by Joe6, i.e. not.
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Postposted on Sun Dec 30, 2001 12:16 am

Never. At least not on mainstream home desktops. Some corporate, sure, but Linux, and open source OSes in general don't have what it takes for mainstream desktop users. These users care about software and hardware compatibility more than security or Bill's monopoly. Personally, I can't blame them.
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Postposted on Sun Dec 30, 2001 2:55 pm

Diss - Chicken and egg. Hardware compatability is very good and getting better all the time. Software 'compatablity'... You mean software availability, don't you? One could say that Windows' capatability is worse than Linux's, because you can use wine to run quite a lot of Win32 apps on Linux. You have to recompile/hack/get reduced functionality out of lots of apps in order to get them to run on Windows.

If you really did mean compatability and not availability, I'd dearly love to know what you feel needs changing in the guts of the OS. :smile:

(Sorry to get all nitpick-y at you, but I hate seeing people gripe about 'software compatability', which is a problem of the OS, when they mean 'software availability', which is a shortcoming of the software vendors due to market share.)
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Postposted on Sun Dec 30, 2001 4:16 pm

I guess I should have worded it differently, I was talking about compatibility mainly with respect to file formats, ie MS Office. Hell, it's enough of a hassle getting different versions of Office files to work properly, let alone with another office suite.

As for emulation, I just don't see it making its way into mainstream desktop use. These people want things to be as stupid-simple as possible, and I don't think even Lindows has a realistic shot at them.
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Postposted on Sun Dec 30, 2001 10:01 pm

Truth. OpenOffice might help the first problem, but idiot simple will never match up with UNIX.
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Postposted on Mon Dec 31, 2001 11:05 am

Ya know, I used to worry about Linux on the desktop until I came to a simple realization: it really doesn't matter if the rest of the world converts to Linux; it only matters that _I_ can use it :grin: . I know that sounds selfish, but realistically the great unwashed is always going to use whatever is quick and easy, it's their loss that they will always be stuck paying for an inferior OS rather than using a more powerful one.
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Postposted on Mon Feb 04, 2002 9:22 pm

I could actually see it happening, but only certain distros. Slackware will never be anywhere near mainstream, but I could see something like redhat getting to the point where it's like windows. Scripts to do everything for the user, no real knowledge needed to use it.

Personally, I'm stickin with slack ;-P
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Postposted on Fri Feb 15, 2002 5:53 am

I think the real question you have to ask, in order to probe this issue, is this: why would Linux spread to any typical user's desktop? I'm new to these (or any) forums - I'm more tech-savy than 90% of my friends, but I can't think of a single reason to run Linux on my desktop. It doesn't help in terms of gaming, in wouldn't make running any software easier - and considering that 99% of users pretty much run Word, Internet Explorer, maybe Outlook and possibly AIM, it's just that much easier to go all-MS. For businesses I see even less insentive to switch. With such a dependence on compatibility - in terms of documents and transferability, attatching a Word file and sending it to a client - they have no reason pay attention to anti-MS rants.
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Postposted on Fri Feb 15, 2002 9:47 am

Do you not see the problem with your last statement there technophile? Can you tell me the reason Word documents are "standard"? Here, I'll tell you: it's inertia, plain and simple. Now, tell me why anyone, private individual or business would voluntarily pay what essentially amounts to a use tax (by that I mean the licensing fees and having to undergo the MS forced upgrades to stay "standard", and that necessarily includes MS's OS that Word runs on as well) when there are plenty of other perfectly suitable "standards"? One of the best of these open standards is good ol' HTML. It's got viewers on every platform known to man, and even MS Word itself will save documents to the HTML format.
So technophile, tell me why it is then that people are willing to continue to labor under the status quo, AND pay for that priviledge, when all it would take to overcome the previously mentioned inertia is a simple concerted effort to shake off the MS yoke? Seriously, I really want to know, and it seems like maybe you understand that mindset better than I do.
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Postposted on Wed Feb 20, 2002 3:35 am

Ok, it took me a while, but I'm finally replying. Curse the busy life of a student ("hey guys, should I write stuff online about an OS I don't use, or go drink beer?"). So here's the way I see it, Despite. Inertia is not a force to be dismissed easily. What you're talking about is the inertia of a collective action problem - sure, anything else could be just as good a standard, but the fact that Word or any other MS product is the standard means that is in no one user's interest to change the standard, even if it would be in everyone's interest if the standard changed to something less monopolistic. Sure, you could start saving all your files in HTML format instead of Word, but what do you do when people send you files that are in Word? I'm not making a point about the ideal world here - I'm saying that for any one home user (and even more so for business users) it is benficial to have a standard in place. Almost any standard would do, and as you pointed out, other suitable ones exist. But the point about a standard is that people have to use it. And imagine how much sh** would hit the fan for a guy at work who started saying "I'm only going to start saving everything in html even though my customers aren't used to it and it doesn't quite have all the features they're used to AND (most of all) I don't know how to use it as well." It's not in any one user's interest to try to subvert the domination of MS.

Now, as to paying a "use tax": honestly, why is that such a bad thing? I pay a "use tax" for every damn thing I ever consume, except for stuff I steal. I pay a "use tax" for the banana I eat, for the gas I put in my car, for the water I drink. I pay a "use tax" even for non-depletable good like cable television, which, like software, costs the producer nothing or next to nothing for each addtion unit sold. That's the price of the good. And frankly, most users consider the opportunity cost of the time it would take to switch from MS to anything else higher than the couple hundred they shell out to use MS.

Consider this imperfect analogy: there are a good number of TR readers who run duel MPs when they could be using duel XPs for considerably less $$$. All they have to do is do the superglue-tape-conductivesilver trick to unlock the XP and then pop it in the duelie board. All it would take is a "simple concerted effort to shake off the" AMD yoke that currently overcharges for the MP processor that only sells so well b/c the XP is intentionally lasercut to be multiplier locked. If enough people used XPs in their duelies, AMD would be forced to reduce the price on MPs or eliminate the price discrimination entirely. But for either shaking off the yoke of MS or AMD, each person is thinking "whatever I do won't make much of a difference unless 1000s of others do the same thing. And if 1000s of others DO 'shake off the MS (or AMD) yoke' then I will benefit from their action without wasting my time myself."

In short, no "simple concerted effort" is really simple. Especially when most people dont' know what html is. When they don't know what linux is, let alone how to use it. When, honestly, they PREFER to have windows XP preinstalled on the computer-monitor-printer-speakers package they buy from compUSA or Gateway, b/c they are afraid of messing up the simple installation.

The key to this is that somewhere along this thread, we started talking about a "typical" or "mainstream" user puttin linux on their desktop. A "typical user" doesn't know what CPU they have - how is that user going to run linux? And if his smart friend does it for him, considering all the tinkering he will still have to to do on a regular basis, how was that switch in his interest?
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Postposted on Sat Feb 23, 2002 2:26 am

On 2001-12-30 21:01, Forge wrote:
Truth. OpenOffice might help the first problem, but idiot simple will never match up with UNIX.



Idiot simple doesn't have to match up with UNIX, or in this case Linux. Linux has to match up with idiot simple. When that happens you get OS X. Seriously, windows is not a simple operating system. It's functionality and configurablility has simple been dumbed down to the point where lots of people can use it. At some point, someone will do this for a Linux distro. If they can do it and keep things stable and secure, they may have a success. If not, they will have a windows like OS running on the linux kernel without M$ pulling the strings.
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Postposted on Fri Mar 01, 2002 1:01 pm

Eh.

It's not there yet.

But great leaps and bounds in usability are coming our way — kernel-level autoconfiguration in Linux 2.6, KDE 3, GNOME 2, Keith Packard's work on enhancing X's capabilities. I mean, look at SuSE 5.2 just a few years ago and SuSE 7.3 today. It's come a long way, and while it has a long way to go, it's getting there.

OpenOffice is getting more usable and gaining features that you'd have to go to MS Office for in the past.

The GIMP is getting better (though, unfortunately, Pantone color matching might never be in the free GIMP).

Lots of specialized engineering applications available only on the likes of Solaris and AIX in the past are now being ported to Linux.

So we're seeing improvements on the usability front and the application availability front.

Whether or not Linux was ever meant to be on the desktop, people are dragging it there, kicking and screaming or not.
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Postposted on Sun Mar 03, 2002 11:41 pm

I think that KDE 2.2 is suitable for everyday use--enough so that I'm using it every day.

I don't mean to step on any toes, but the whole "Linux on the desktop" concept is flawed. Linux is a fine OS, but what makes good desktop fodder is the user interface stuff. And all the user interface stuff is not Linux!

There are some who say that X is long-in-the-tooth, that it should be replaced. That IMHO is a relevant argument. I think that X was way ahead of its time, so that sheer longetivity isn't a good reason to dump X. X and KDE make a good choice over Windows, especially because they don't have to run on...Windows.
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Postposted on Mon Mar 04, 2002 3:05 pm

On 2002-03-01 12:01, Prototyped wrote:

So we're seeing improvements on the usability front and the application availability front.

Whether or not Linux was ever meant to be on the desktop, people are dragging it there, kicking and screaming or not.



Prototyped, it's good to see a voice of reason on this forum!!

I just started using Linux exclusively on my laptop at home. I don't have much choice at work (and don't want to quit this job either!!) and my other computers at home are pretty much off-limits -- to me (ahhh, kids). Nontheless, I use Linux on my old laptop and don't see any reason to switch back. KWord imports M$ style file formats and I can write an RTF file right back, if I need to. RTF pops right back into Word without a question. Yes, some of the more esoteric styles possible with Word lose something in the translation, but the operative word is "esoteric", not common.

Anyway, I enjoy my exercise of choice and everytime I see something else happening that ever so slightly loosens M$'s grip (go Walmart!!) on so much of our lives, I smile. I don't wish M$ or Bill Gates ill, they can make plenty of money for themselves and their stockholders without being a monopoly, or employing monopolistic tactics :smile:!!
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Postposted on Tue Mar 05, 2002 4:14 pm

Just a quick note to add to this discussion. There ARE corporate users using Linux on the desktop as a replacement for Win32. Unfortunately I'm not sure if I can name names, but I went out to do a deployment of a product at a very major company early this year, and when I got there the boxes they had us use were KDE on Linux. The entire place was split about 75% Linux boxes, 25% Win32.

Again, this is a HUGE company (not IBM, by the way). I was pretty impressed to see that wide a movement towards Linux, at least in the QA/development/operations departments.

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Postposted on Tue Mar 05, 2002 7:11 pm

Very interesting Polare. Ususally all I read is Macish arguments about how nobody will understand pointing and clicking in Linux, even though that's what they're doing in Windows. I've long suspected that it was nothing but fear-based reactionary BS.

I've noticed that in corporate environments, a substantial number of employees are so computer illiterate that they probably wouldn't even noticed if their desktop was switched, provided their icons were there, and did more or less what they did before. Power users...well they're <i>supposed</i> to be able to learn new things, right?
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Postposted on Mon Mar 25, 2002 3:09 pm

Seems like Intel and Amazon were moving to Linux, right? Maybe some of the millions of dollars they saved involved desktop deployments.
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Postposted on Mon Mar 25, 2002 4:21 pm

Lindows is supposed to be a version of linux that would appease the masses. It also supported windows programs. I was quite excited about it but now its release is being postponed because of a legal battle with M$. I would definitely check that one out and if the compatibility with M$ progs is good enough, i would proabably use it as my main operating system.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2002 12:00 pm

On 2002-03-05 18:11, Speed wrote:
I've noticed that in corporate environments, a substantial number of employees are so computer illiterate that they probably wouldn't even noticed if their desktop was switched, provided their icons were there, and did more or less what they did before.


I agree wholeheartedly. At the office I work in, most people just look for the icons to click on and stumble through the rest. If anything goes wrong, they come to me. Linux is a viable solution for the corporate world (not that it is right for ALL situations...yet) - it would just take an extra effort on behalf of the tech department to make sure the computers were configured so the typical user wouldn't know the difference.
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Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2002 12:29 pm

My thoughts are that efforts like Linux are needed to help coerce the mainstream to strive for a better product. Linux does not have to become the next MS to be useful, help improve the overall landscape and provide an option for those that want it.

Choice is powerful in many ways.

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Postposted on Wed Mar 27, 2002 5:41 pm

On 2002-03-25 15:21, 0oALio0 wrote:
Lindows is supposed to be a version of linux that would appease the masses. It also supported windows programs. I was quite excited about it but now its release is being postponed because of a legal battle with M$. I would definitely check that one out and if the compatibility with M$ progs is good enough, i would proabably use it as my main operating system.

0oALio0, you might be interested in this: http://www.codeweavers.com/products/office/
You are false data.
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Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2002 5:19 am

If you guys follow the latest stuff, apparently one MS had the power to crush Linux with their FUD back in 98, and Red Hat is being limited because MS Office and IE is not available for Linux.

What does this all means?

Linux to me has never been designed to replace Windows. If it was, it'd have full windows compatibility. Torvalds designed it to be a Unix replacement, and so should it rightfully be.

The barrier to user friendliness as argued has come down significantly. But the way I see my parents use the computer for example, I think it's like driving cars. My mom would like to use the car to get where she need to go, but no more. People don't want to hang around their computers or even spend time to figure out exactly how it work. They don't want to be 'literate' in computers to be able to do this and that, and I think they shouldn't have to. The shift from Windows to Linux may very well be like going from automatic to manual. There is a reason why people chose automatic, and personally I have no desire to drive a manual, because I couldn't be arsed to and frankly I'm not that interested in cars.

Now Lindows with Windows compatibility is CLEARLY targeting the normal desktop. But at the same time it begs the question of - why switch? Will it somehow offer a 'crash free' environment? Because my XP has been pretty stable. I have no need for anything that is only available for the Linux as a home user, neither does my parents. So why should I switch over to Lindows, when there is no guarantee of anything, is it really worth the 50 bucks I'll save?

If indeed some of these people couldn't tell the difference if you switched Windows for Linux, then what is the point of having Linux dominating the desktop? Woudl you not be taking advantage of the ignorant consumer, as Microsoft is doing? There is a lot that goes on in the background in terms of what it could mean for developers, but aren't people forgetting something?

Java, write once, run anywhere.

It's being credited as a threat to MS monopoly, and thus enables Sun to have a basis for their 1 billion dollar lawsuit. Yet it still fails to manifest itself, even Sun has no plans at this time to convert StarOffice, their ONLY potential consumer killer app to Java.

No one seems to believe MS when they say .Net will be completely cross platform like Java. They don't seem to be making a Linux version of the CLI whatever, but the word is there is an open source project on it.

The OS war won't be over for years, and as some wisely noted, who knows where computing will be in 3 or 4 years? Who is to say we will even have our current setup of desktop?

After all Sun promised for years the return to terminal style, Microsoft promises rental software and centralized servers, and the RIAA whatnot wants to put handcuffs on hardware.
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Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2002 5:18 pm

Interesting link Speed. But a great feature of Lindows was that it supported Windows GAMES! Game support on this other one seems limited to say the least (though it says compatibility will increase "dramatically" in the near future)
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Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2002 4:06 pm

From a mass-market standpoint, I think Codeweaver's CrossOver Office has more of a chance at making a difference in marketshare than better gaming performance.

The concept of Crossover Office and the litigating states (who want to see Office on linux) seem like the two biggest current threats to Windows corporate dominance. And they're both pretty miniscule threats.

Has anybody tried Crossover Office btw?

I think the growth of the steadily-growing console gaming market will continue to have a larger impact on the PC gaming market than linux at home will (in other words, Windows gaming is being eroded, but those gamers aren't going to linux...)
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Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2002 5:31 pm

Btw, speaking of trends, the most interesting linux activity to me right now is the Zaurus. Because it's so mass-market.

Speaking really long term....

- at some point, some sort of computing device may become more mass-market than PCs
- the ones currently eveolving that direction are handhelds, hybrids, and at home, game consoles (but who knows what we'll finally end up with when something really catches on)
- those markets are still anybody's game... one must-have communications (or ???) gadget that some company hits out of the park can still have dramatic impact, with little prior application history really needed
- the power of those devices is nearing that of low-end PCs already... witness the Windows tablets - some run CE while others run the desktop OS, and of people who use those, nobody really cares which they have as long as they can access Outlook and/or whatever vertical apps they use. The small devices are quite capable of "growing up" into a simple out-of-the-box computing platform. Palm OS 5 will debut on some devices that begin to show the growth capability of that platform as well. It even plays games convincingly. Intel's current StrongARM variants were just the beginning.

In the end, the inertia of current PCs may be much less significant.
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Postposted on Thu Apr 11, 2002 2:01 am

Should we write Code Red II that formats all local disks? Would it help or hurt?


You know, you'd think that after Code Red and all that jazz owned so many IIS servers and cost corportations SO much money last summer that they'd switch off of IIS to apache. These guys are real system administrators, after all...

Not so -- IIS is now stronger than ever and getting more serious patches than ever. Just today another "arbitrary code" vulnerability was patched. Better install/reboot those IIS servers, again, boys.

If the system admins don't switch what do you think the chances are a regular user would switch, especially considering that system admins can get any functionality they'd want out of *nix and users cannot.

Never. At least not on mainstream home desktops. Some corporate, sure, but Linux, and open source OSes in general don't have what it takes for mainstream desktop users.


By never if you mean "no time soon without drastic changes and full software support", i'll agree with you wholeheartedly. I don't even see it getting very popular in many corporations at all. Here's the situation: a large, for profit, corporation wants to save money in it's IT department by switching to linux so every secretary gets linux. How is that going to effect productivity when they secretary can barely use windows? =)

One could say that Windows' capatability is worse than Linux's, because you can use wine to run quite a lot of Win32 apps on Linux. You have to recompile/hack/get reduced functionality out of lots of apps in order to get them to run on Windows.


No, you can't say that. In the IT environment you might be able to say that linux has better software availability then windows but the fact of the matter is this: 90% of all for profit softwares are released on windows but not on linux. For profity softwares are far more common than open source softwares. Wine is teh suck.

Truth. OpenOffice might help the first problem, but idiot simple will never match up with UNIX.


It's not so much a problem of being an idiot as it is a problem of: 1) the user not having enough patients to learn what is necessary, 2) the user not caring much about computers but merely reguarding them as a necessary tool to accomplish his daily tasks, 3) the user does not have the type of experiences working and experimenting with computers necessary because of #2.

Whether or not Linux was ever meant to be on the desktop, people are dragging it there, kicking and screaming or not.


Whether or not Windows NT was meant to be a real server OS people seem to be happily applying it to all types of server functions....

If you guys follow the latest stuff, apparently one MS had the power to crush Linux with their FUD back in 98, and Red Hat is being limited because MS Office and IE is not available for Linux.


What does IE have to do with it? Version 0.9.9 of Mozilla, in my opinion, is just as good /without/ the security holes of IE. What was MS thinking when they integrated IE into the OS? "Hey guys, lets make a huge collection of security holes and integrate it into windows.." Great idea =)

MS office isn't available for linux but alternatives are getting better and have compatability with MS formats. It's only a matter of time until the alternatives really are good enough so that it doesn't matter which you are using.

Java, write once, run anywhere.


I never used to have respect for Sun -- now, however, I see the light (no pun intended). Sunblades are awesome, Solaris, in my opinion, is by far the best version of unix, Java has made strides, and the flatscreens on the systems they donated to UW rock =)

The bottom line is that the domination of windows on the desktop isn't slated to change anytime soon. Low cost systems may come with linux or no OS but mainstream systems will continue to run windows until the users (or the alternatives) change -- and neither is happening fast enough to overturn anything anytime soon.
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Postposted on Sat Apr 13, 2002 3:03 am

LJ - I know of lots of IIS servers that weren't compromised because the systems admins kept there systems up to date. Maybe you should go update your Solaris /bin/login and reboot your Sun Blade or update your zlib and reboot whatever *Nix box. Not to pick on you specifically LJ, the point is that everything has holes and gets patched and rebooted, even OpenBSD had several patches last year. While Microsoft has made some dumb decisions and had bad security, having the daemon that controls your logins, both remote and local, have a buffer overflow is not what I call great security in the OS either. When it comes to keeping systems up to date blame the admins not the people writing the code. They provided the fix, whether it was for Windows or a *Nix, the admins not keeping their systems up to date are to blame in those cases.

As I've said in the thread along similiar veins in the Windows forum, I have an RH7.2 box, a Sun Ultra 5, a Win2k Server and a Win2k Pro laptop at my desk. Each of them serves a different purpose. Each has been patched and powercycled at least once this year
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Postposted on Sat Apr 13, 2002 4:30 am

LJ, good post, man! You have some very perceptive points. Specifically:

You know, you'd think that after Code Red and all that jazz owned so many IIS servers and cost corportations SO much money last summer that they'd switch off of IIS to apache. These guys are real system administrators, after all...

I laughed my ass off on this one! When Code Red hit, I was the only admin in the entire shop who had bothered to do the updates. The high-paid stars of the department were standing around with their thumbs up their butts, wondering what happened. The funny part is that when I had a chance, I did strip all of my Windows machines of IIS, using Apache instead. :D

That's the big problem in corporate IS today -- key admin jobs are filled by paper MCSEs who couldn't administer their way out of a paper bag. Ironically (and sadly), many of the best admins got caught in the dot-bomb, and are now flipping burgers while the knotheads who replaced them are making obscene salaries for being asleep at the wheel.

Here's the situation: a large, for profit, corporation wants to save money in it's IT department by switching to linux so every secretary gets linux. How is that going to effect productivity when they secretary can barely use windows? =)

So true. Corporations typically spend tens of thousands of dollars a year to outfit an employee with a computer. So a $25k/yr. secretary gets a $25k/yr. PC, and uses the PC mostly for self-amusement. Switch to Linux, and all the sudden it becomes painfully obvious that the company's previous IS policy was a joke! No manager wants the truth about their gross negligence to get out, so the project dies under political pressure.

But what if a company made the radical decision to hire people who could actually do what their resumes claim they can do?

It's not so much a problem of being an idiot as it is a problem of: 1) the user not having enough patients to learn what is necessary, 2) the user not caring much about computers but merely reguarding them as a necessary tool to accomplish his daily tasks, 3) the user does not have the type of experiences working and experimenting with computers necessary because of #2.

You speak much truth here, BUT....it's also true that many of those people who can't be bothered to learn the skills that earn a paycheck have plenty of time to spend downolading and installing spyware, machine-crashing screensavers and other junk on their computers. Move them onto Linux systems, and they'll have to use their systems for work. And the IS department can do less help desk work.

The bottom line is that a company that dumps the oh-so-familiar Microsoft products will suddenly notice how incompetent many of their employees are. But once they train or hire competent workers, productivity will take off. In the end they will save money on software, and gain productivity from workers. Win-win!
You are false data.
Speed
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Postposted on Wed May 01, 2002 1:40 am

Not to pick on you specifically LJ, the point is that everything has holes and gets patched and rebooted, even OpenBSD had several patches last year. While Microsoft has made some dumb decisions and had bad security, having the daemon that controls your logins, both remote and local, have a buffer overflow is not what I call great security in the OS either. When it comes to keeping systems up to date blame the admins not the people writing the code. They provided the fix, whether it was for Windows or a *Nix, the admins not keeping their systems up to date are to blame in those cases.


I'm not going to argue that any one OS is perfectly secure -- espeically when you consider all of the packages, etc that are installed. I assume the daemon that you are referring to when you mention the overflow problem is the ssh daemon (which was a recent problem). That was a prime example of what IS not set right as far as linux security issues -- you have to be root to open all ports below 1024. Therefore, if you want to start ssh, user root must do so and if there is a buffer overflow, the person takes over as user root.

However, this exploit was not widespread (the code was kept relatively tight), and most *nix boxes do not allow unncessary hosts to use any inetd or xinetd services to be accessed by arbitrary users. You mentioned that you have *nix boxes next to you -- do you allow any IP address to connect to it or just the ones that you NEED to be able to connect to it.

Also, SSH doesn't really have much to do with unix aside from the fact that it runs on unix and some distributions come with it for free. The security hole was the fault of Openssh, whether run on unix or windows. In most unix flavors ssh won't be enabled by default, AFAIK, and you can update it without restarting the server at all -- you may have to actually be AT the server to do it, however.

My point, really, is this: Apache/*nix handles security in a relatively reasonable fasion, most of the time. Buffer overflows rarely (and i mean RARELY) lead to root access because the daemons more likely to be targeted (such as apache) can use change UID when they startup -- apache will run as a user with NO local privaledges that can simply READ from an NFS mount. How useful would it be then to exploit any buffer overflows in apache code?

MS, however, handles security in another fasion. IIS always runs with system privaledges. Users always log in as admin or with administrative privaledges (or else they can't install programs). By default, also, everything is enabled. On your *nix desktop, no doubt, you simply su when you need to do something such as installing programs. Certainly there have been exploits for unix in the past (clever SUID exploits and whatnot), but they are certainly outweighed by the number and severity of exploits in MS OS'. A good admin behind either will have a pretty solid system but the bottom line is this: If you want trouble free operation of a webserver, dhcp, dns, nis, etc, you set up a *nix server of your favorite variant and set it up CORRECTLY knowing which 3rd party services have known exploits and disable them. Hell, just disable what you don't use. Why enable LPD for a dhcp server?

In small business real world (a place where most IT guys will end up) these machines HAVE to be 24/7. Stability, reliability, and especially security are your main concerns and in these areas unix is generally ahead of NT.

I did strip all of my Windows machines of IIS, using Apache instead. icon_biggrin.gif


Nice! If your company's site isn't using ASP or you don't have any problems using the ASP::Apache programs on the ASP i'd recommend moving to apache simply because you will not have to worry about it -- ever. Unfortunately, many places are becoming more and more dependant on ASP...

What you're saying about the incompent admins is really what the problem is today. I'd suspect this: most admins who run IIS/NT successfully and correctly would probably be capable of learning/using *nix or BSD in a relatively short amount of time -- it's the admins who can't admin IIS/NT successfully who really irritate me. Either those admins really don't know what they're doing or they're flat out lazy. It's those admins who HELP propagate Code Red and whatever other virii are circulating around.
LJ
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