OS survey: Linux not ready, tests show NT outperforms it

With the sudden rise of Linux as a media darling, it was only a matter of time before someone took a cold look at this operating system. And the bad news is finally starting to roll in, with a variety of reports suggesting that the little UNIX that could may not be all that its cracked up to be. Aside from the obvious concerns about installation and user unfriendliness, and the drastic need for a single cohesive user interface, Linux has come under attack recently for failing to live up to its hype.

First up is a study by market researcher D. H. Brown Associates, which found Linux acceptable for inexpensive, limited-use file, print, and Web servers. But Linux, the report states, is lacking the high-availability features that make UNIX worthwhile, as well as full support for multiple processors and a journaling file system. Though the ability to work with multiple processors was recently added to Linux, the feature came under fire because it is only partially working.

"It boots, yes. But that's simply step one on a long path to have credible high-end \[symmetrical multi-processing\] support," said D.H Brown's Tony Iams.

Fortune Magazine also evaluated Linux recently and determined that Microsoft has nothing to worry about--yet. Fortune says that only "masochists or programmers" should even attempt to install Linux on a desktop machine. But that's to be expected: The big draw for Linux right now is it's prowess as a server OS.

And that's just where Mindcraft says the OS falls way behind. NT, that is. According to a study comparing the performance of Red Hat Linux 5.2 to Windows NT Server 4.0, the Microsoft OS outperformed Linux by a two and a half times on identical hardware. As a Web server, it's even worse: NT outperforms Linux by 3.7 times.

All tests were performed on a Dell PowerEdge 6300 with four 400 MHz Pentium II Xeon processors and 1 GB of RAM (actually, only 960 MB for Linux, which is the maximum it can use).

"We started the tests using standard Red Hat Linux 5.2 but had to update it because it does not support hardware RAID controllers and SMP at the same time," said Mindcraft's president, Bruce Weiner. "Linux definitely takes more time and resources to tune and to configure than Windows NT Server. You have to search the Net to find the latest kernel and driver versions to get the highest performance and most reliable modules. Then when you're done, Linux fails to deliver the same level of performance as Windows NT Server on enterprise-class servers."

Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), a Web server, outperformed Apache 1.34 on Linux significantly, reaching a peak of 3,771 requests per second. The Linux alternative peaked at only 1000 requests per second.

"The Linux/Apache Web server performance collapsed with a \[benchmark test\] load above 160 client test threads, while Windows NT Server/IIS continued to increase performance up through 288 client test threads without reaching their peak performance," Weiner noted.

And as a file server, Windows NT once again came out on top, handling 112 simultaneous clients, compared to Linux with only 48.

The complete report can be found on the Web at the Mindcraft Web site

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