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I know this is a pretty short and straight forward question, but what are the advantages of the Linux server over the Windows server?

Is linux better than windows? And if it is/isn't, how?

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closed as not constructive by Zoredache, Jeff Atwood May 25 '09 at 16:34

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9 Answers

Is Linux better than Windows? Mu!

This may be a short question, but it's definitely not straightforward to answer. Without knowing what function you are going to put the server to, it's even more difficult to answer (it's like the perennial Mac vs Windows or Emacs vs. vi question).

At the most basic level, all an OS is, is a platform for running applications (i.e., boring); it's the applications that make computing interesting. If the application that you need to run is best supported on Windows, then use Windows. If all of your experience is with Linux, and you have an application that does what you need in Linux, then use Linux.

In general, the initial price of the Operating System is only a small part of the TCO of a server. You must also take into account server Maintenance, Application maintenance, the management cost, the cost of any software you install, etc. And these days, you can't even say that Linux is more stable than Windows — we aren't living in the '90s any more...

As much as some of the more rabid zealots would like to say otherwise, both platforms are equally valid, depending. It's up to the Sysadmin to look objectively at a given problem, and decide what OS/Application combination is best going to solve it.

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+1 especially for the last sentence. Platform choice depends largely (arguably almost entirely) on the purpose of the server, the duties it will be performing, and the clients it will be serving. –  Tim May 24 '09 at 5:50
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Good points all "we aren't living in the '90s any more". +1 Just for mu reference great answer. –  Copas May 24 '09 at 16:46
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I think your answer salvages this question. –  Kara Marfia May 24 '09 at 23:53
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Probably the single biggest reason I like UNIX-like servers over Windows servers is that I've found any problems are so much easier to diagnose and fix. I spent much more time beating my head against a wall or on hold with tech support with Windows servers. With OpenBSD, FreeBSD, or Linux the problem is usually in the logs, and if the solution isn't obvious then it usually yields to Googling a bit.

When everything is running smoothly then Windows can be a fine server platform, as can Linux and *BSD. It's when things aren't working that the difference comes in.

As for the cost of admins, you have to take competence into account. Sure Windows admins are plentiful, but to hire a good one will cost you just like hiring a good UNIX admin. If you just need someone to click "Next" on install dialogs it'll be cheaper to go Windows, but you don't want that.

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+1 for the cost of admins part, liked that... -1 for the easier to troubleshoot, but that's very subjective so I won't down vote (seing this is not yet a CW). I personally think it's about the same especially with later Microsoft server/application versions but hey, experiences differ a lot and no one is biased ^^ –  Oskar Duveborn May 24 '09 at 17:59
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Yes, experiences differ but that's been mine. And I "grew up" on DOS, then Windows. The later Windows stuff may be much better than what I was working with. I hope so! –  dwc May 24 '09 at 19:37
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Well the big one and the most obvious one is the price. Being able to literly be able to buy two servers instead of one if you put linux on them is a major pull (if it can do the job).

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Well, this question cries out for a "subjective" tag.

Anyway, the answer here is `to each their own'.

I mean, it all depends on what you need to run on this server. A directory service? Should I use openldap? No, thanks, I'll probably use Active Directory (on a Windows-server-based domain controller). An application needs SQL Server (microsoft one :P)? Looks like a job for windows server to ne. On the other hand, I don't see much point in running DNS or (you must be kidding me) DHCP on a windows server. Or a web proxy (hello, squid). Or a firewall/router.

To each their own.

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+1 for subjective tag suggestion. –  Copas May 24 '09 at 16:49
    
Certainly there will be subjective info here, but there are also factual points to be made on both sides of the issue. I know good admins that run both! –  dwc May 24 '09 at 17:21
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TCO is the most important factor here. Yes Linux is free and it can match Windows Server for functionality. But have you considered...

  • Cost of hiring administrators - Windows admins are far more plentiful and to an extent (very much open to debate) the MCP certificates provide a neat way of qualifying applicants.
  • Ongoing costs - *nix admins generally tend to command higher salaries (very much depends on location)

In reality it is rare to actually get the choice of what platform to go with, the decision is made by 'PHBs' not on the technical merits, or the platform is chosen by the fact that a line of business application only runs on one or the other.

What you get for your money with Microsoft is a platform that is easier to setup/manage than Linux, by virtue of only having one Mail server, one DNS server, one directory service and so on it is simpler because you have no options.

Whether this ease of use / simplicity equates to better is really a matter of opinion. Ultimately, as with anything in business, just use the one best suited to your specific needs, neither platform is better but one will be better suited to you.

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Is linux better than windows?

The answer is BLUE!

Is windows better than Linux?

The answer is CHEESE!

The point is that this is a nonsensical question.

"For my workload, budget, expenses, skillset, future plans, and applications that I run, which platform is likely to be the best choice for me moving forwards?"

There are other variables, of course- but without at least the info above, you're just wanking off fanboys.

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Mmmm blue cheese... –  Copas May 24 '09 at 16:48
    
He meant blue screen of death –  kizzx2 Dec 2 '10 at 15:19
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I think it depends on the scenario. Many guys may reply with "Linux is better" but I suggest to select the server with your available resources \ your software requirements etc.

As an example if you are using Linux servers the users will need bit more expertise to work with that (If there are no sys admins to manage them). And even there is a system administrator he will need some more knowledge to work with linux and get the things configured because the effort required to do some configuration is higher in Linux (Not in all cases but in most cases)

In the other hand you may need to install some softwares that doesn't have a "Linux" option. Generally we can find a windows version for almost any Unix like OS bases softwares but not wise versa. (Proprietary softwares in most cases). So I recommend to consider those factors as well.

I just wanted to show some "Unseen" side of a practical problem ;)

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One area where Linux (or *BSD) really shines is repurposing old hardware for a specific task. You can take any old box that's gathering dust in a corner or attic and have a serviceable little server in minutes.

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In my experience I have benchmarked an identical database query on an identical database with WIN Server 2005 - 64 bit loaded vs OpenSuse 10.3 64 bit on an Intel 64 bit machine. The results I achieved was that the Linux response was 10x faster on a resultset that returned 530,000 rows. Linux = 3 seconds, Windows = 30 seconds. I have not tweaked anything - everyting was installed out of the box with no tweaking. The database used was PostgreSQL, identical versions - 8.3.3.

I did this exercise to satisfy a customer demand for faster response, I am not sorry that I used OpenSuse (10.3) - I have had no response related complaints since the switch.

I hope you will find this info useful - it is supplied for that purpose and not to knock Windows.

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Postgresql is not supposed to be used in production environment on Windows... So yes it's really slow on Windows, try SQL Server instead –  Kedare Jul 20 '10 at 11:44
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