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From Doug Wellington <>
Subject Re: Apache vs. MSIIS
Date Fri, 22 Nov 1996 01:43:14 GMT
>I have a customer who is determined to ditch all of their UNIX
>machines and change to NT running MSIIS.
>>From those who have experience running NT servers, is there any
>advice that would help convince them that this is a mistake?

[WARNING: Religion ahead!  ;-)  I've thought a lot about this issue,
since the USGS is going through this exact transformation as we speak.
We had a contract for Data General (Unix) workstations, but because they
didn't live up to expectations, the decision has been made to change
to the WinNT server direction.  There are those of us who argue that
DG's Unix isn't "real" Unix, so we shouldn't get rid of Unix per se,
just the DGs, but it's too late...  Anyway, here are my thoughts - don't
crucify me!  ;-)]

Well...  Hmmmm...  I've seen both sides of this one...  Running NT with
IIS isn't actually as bad as you fear.  I think it really depends upon
the "big picture".  When you have a customer that is going to be doing
a fair amount of research/development/programming work, then I think a
Unix server is best, especially if there is to be active logins on that
server, or if there is going to be "low" level network programming and/
or testing being done.  However, if you have a site that doesn't want
to take on the whole "Unix attitude" and wants a turnkey system, then
NT is going to be a better solution.

I don't think I'm "selling out" when I say that if you look past the
unfounded hatred of Microsoft, you'll actually find a quite decent
product!  It works.  I wish I could say the same about my Unix boxes.
It's as if my Unix boxes are like the old Fiat 850 Spider I used to
drive.  That thing would break all the time, but I just kept forgiving
it because I loved it so much.  I get tired of having to add to and
replace all the different software parts of my Unix boxes all the time,
but I forgive them because I love them so much...

System Management:
Having used various forms of UNIX (SunOS, Solaris, DG/UX, Ultrix, Linux
and [my favorite] FreeBSD) plus having used WinNT, I would say that I
think WinNT is a much better solution for the corporate environment or
where there is no need to telnet into the server for active use.  (FWIW,
I used to be a BIG Novell fan, at least in a PC only LAN environment...)
If you just want a computer to handle your web site, NT will be much
less hassle, management-wise.  It is much easier to train a new system
adminstrator to manage WinNT than it is to get them proficient at Unix.
(For instance, just compare the WinNT help system to the man pages...)

Another issue will be the rest of the network environment that this
customer has.  If they are going to have a lot of Win95 and/or WinNT
clients on their network, then a WinNT server box could also serve
as the DHCP and WINS server...  However, if all the clients are UNIX
of some type, then a UNIX server would fit in better with the whole
site strategy...

Another aspect is the tools that are used by the users themselves.
There are some wonderfully powerful tools for UNIX, but most of them
are hidden behind what is, for most people, a strange interface.
Windows has a much more consistent, and for many, a prettier, face.  I
think most users prefer Word to emacs and TeX/troff.  I also think that
most users prefer the other tools in Windows to the tools available in
Unix, regardless of ultimate power and elegance.  As always in this
business, you should choose the right application software for your
customer and then, and only then, decide which hardware and OS you need
to run that software.

Another (unrelated?) direction:
Another thought is about whether that server will be used to develop
user applications.  I love UNIX, I've been using it for over six years,
and I definitely believe in using it for network and system programming,
but I have to tell you, developing user applications on NT is an order
of magnitude easier and cheaper.  Users want easy-to-use GUI interfaces
and it is so easy to slap something together in Visual Basic or even in
Visual C++, it makes me giggle!  I have and use TCL/TK, python and perl,
and if it weren't for TK, I wouldn't even bother trying to do anything
with X windows any more!  Users won't put up with curses based apps any
more, so it boils down to X or MS Windows (or the Mac - gotta be fair).
Do YOU like writing X code?  And if it weren't for GNU C++, I wouldn't
be doing ANY C/C++ programming on UNIX - have you priced Sun's C++
compiler?????  For whatever reason, the business people I have dealt
with don't want the free GCC, they want to pay for something so they can
hold someone accountable...

Changes in the world:
My last issue is that of "evolution".  The new and different and wonderful
syndrome...  I look at the Unix and Macintosh markets, and I just haven't
seen that much "phenomenal" new growth.  On the other hand, the PC market
has been experiencing phenomenal change!  (Of course, you could argue that
they started way behind and couldn't help but grow, but my answer to that
is, "why didn't everybody else stay that far ahead?"...)  ;-)  The whole
process has created the "critical mass" that it takes in the market today,
so the PC/NT market will continue to heat up.  As much as some people don't
like it, I really see the most growth in the PC and specifically WinNT
market and I see an investment in NT and IIS as not just a good solution
for the moment, but a good direction for the future of a company's
computing needs...

So, was that worth two cents?

Doug Wellington
System and Network Administrator
US Geological Survey, Tucson, AZ Project Office

According to proposed Federal guidelines, this message is a "non-record".
Hmm, I wonder if _everything_ I say is a "non-record"...?

PS. Remember to insert "I think" or "In my opinion" before every sentence
above...  ;-)

FreeBSD and Apache - the best real tools for the virtual world!
Check out and

Chuck - Lord of Darkness?  Or Lord of Cuteness?

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