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Linux Muscles Into M$'s Space

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Is Linux a better choice for business than, say, a proprietary operating system such as Microsoft Windows? The debate, full of passion and conviction, rages on both sides of this issue. Over the past several years, Linux has elevated itself as a respectable competitor despite Microsoft's dominance in the operating systems market. Linux is used extensively in today's business operating platforms, in Web servers, the Domain Name System, FTP, e-mail, firewalls, Web hosting, network monitoring and desktop applications, for example. Some form of Linux is used in nearly 80 percent of companies today. Most of them deploy it from a server level, and interest in desktop functionality is growing. The rapid migration of Linux inside global businesses and government agencies is likely related to the increase in quality, security and cost-effectiveness that Linux provides.

Of course, there are arguments from both sides. But when you compare Linux and Windows applications feature for feature, there is very little, if anything, that Microsoft has that Linux hasn't yet perfected.

Security and reliability are, of course, another concern. How can migrating businesses be sure that the security and reliability of their networks will, at the very least, stay intact? Looking at some facts and figures provides a good start. In the past few years, Microsoft has experienced near-catastrophic exploitations with the MyDoom, Nimda and MS Blaster worms. These system exploitations affected countless users and cost individuals, corporations and government agencies millions of dollars in damages and downtime. Since then, Microsoft has had to account for the inadvertent release of part of its sanctified source code, as well as the much-publicized Internet Explorer vulnerabilities that have forced many users to change their preferred Web browsers. In response, Microsoft attempted to heighten security on all applications to prevent further incidents.

It's not as if Linux hasn't also had its share of vulnerabilities. The notable difference, though, is in the initial discovery and patching of existing vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities within a code are, for the most part, inevitable, but users will find with Linux that vulnerabilities are identified and patches are released quickly, in many cases before users are even aware that there's a problem. Moreover, the Linux community, as opposed to proprietary vendors, provides innate security enhancements and affords a substantial number of resources from developers in the community to ensure that even seemingly insignificant security flaws are properly addressed.

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