Windows or Linux: hazards of a choice
* Linux lacks support, integration tools and service providers in Pakistan
* Microsoft systems cost more as compared to Linux based systems
By Saira Habib
Converting records and databases from Windows to Linux will not only be a complicated task but also time consuming. Linux may seem as a cost saving venture but there may be hidden costs such as the skill levels of IT staff currently employed
The government is busy in a long discussion and undecided on selecting its official Operating System. Is it interested in choosig the Linux instead of Windows depends on the final decision of the authorities as there are a number of issues to be sorted out.
But lets examine both the Operating Systems for comparison.
Linux was introduced in early 90s and still it has to prove itself as a better venture than anyother operating system. Linux coding is complicated and requires indepth knowledge. It requires a team of skilled professionals for installation and upkeeping. Windows was introduced in late 80s as an extension of the MS-DOS operating system to provide a graphical operating environment for PC users.
This switch from MS- DOS to Windows made life considerably easy for those users that were not able to comprehend the various coding techniques. Since the first version of Windows was introduced Microsoft has come up with upgraded versions regularly to keep in step with the technological advancement.
Linux lacks support, integration tools and service providers in Pakistan. Records and databases are currently operated in Windows and converting them to Linux would not only be complicated but time consuming. Initially Linux may seem as a cost saving venture but there may be hidden costs such as the skill levels of current IT staff, the point where Pakistan lags behind.
Absence of proper integration tools and support infrastructure means that the cost and deployment for new Linux-based integration projects will remain unpredictable. Operating a server based on Linux free software may end up costing businesses more than Windows server software. Personnel costs involved in the upkeep of Linux-based servers, which manage networks of computers, far outweigh the benefits of being able to obtain the software for free or at lower costs. The Linux user has to build its required application in-house or hire a solution provider.
Many solution providers fail to manage the constantly evolving process of postings by Linux libraries, patches and Internet updates. Each upgrade of Linux requires a reinstallation of the system, which again is costly in terms of skilled manpower. Solution providers even find it disturbing that no single entity actually owns the various Linux technologies. This is because Linux is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which, while it places no explicit restrictions on selling or redistributing Linux software, does stipulate that any modifications made to the source be returned to the Open Source community in the form of full-source code.
Anyone can freely copy and modify open-source programs based on Linux, unlike Microsoft’s proprietary software, which has made Linux a company trying to lower their costs. This could be a reason why Pakistan is considering Linux as its Operating System.
But the cost of ownership paints a different picture. The total cost of a server system would include hardware, software and support.
Servers based on Microsoft’s Windows are cheaper to own and easy to operate when used for networking, storing and sharing files, printing and security. Whereas Linux servers were cheaper to operate when used for Web hosting.
Though for Web servers, which host and manage Internet sites Microsoft systems cost more as compared to Linux based systems.
Pakistan is striving to achieve a reliable data systems and connectivity to adopt a technology. It must adopt a system that is compatible with that adopted by the rest of the world. *