View Full Version : Asleep At The Wheel?
I'm a content guy. Trust me, not a programmer. But in this world you need to understand the fundamentals of programming if your interested in developing new applications. And new applications are where the fun and money are hiding. The fun is in the development of new ideas, the money, it'll come as a reward for new and innovative applications. So far I've been a Windows OS user; it's what I grew up on. Have I been alseep at the wheel though?
Reading posts in the Web Programming forum leads me to believe that I've been alseep for quite some time. Could I ask a favor? I know I'm starting at the bottom of the learning curve here, but could someone please describe for me the advantages of operating systems other than Windows. I know this is basic stuff, but I sure would appreciate some help and or resources to learn a bit more.
I'm off to the library today to get a few manuals on Unix and Linux. Time to wake up and smell the operating systems.
02-03-2004, 10:22 AM
The choice of OS is becoming increasingly irrelevant these days. I can run an Apache web server on my PC, even though I'm running Windows 2000 Pro. Likewise, I have friends who have Linux boxes running virtual Windows sessions as well as Mac emulation software.
So on my PC I can use ASP with Access or SQL Server databases, just as easily as I can use PHP and mySQL. The main difference as I see it, is if you're hosting your own sites, or you need to 'mirror' an existing setup on a remote server. In those circumstances then it definitely helps if you have the same underlying OS.
You certainly won't do your career chances any harm though if you're able to switch between administering Unix and Windows based systems... those individuals are a rare breed indeed! Good luck with all the reading! ;o)
02-03-2004, 05:01 PM
I'm in a similar situation, when I was younger, I did a lot of programming with Cobol, Pascal and Basic. I left the IT scene for about 5 years and when I returned - everything had changed. I am now starting to get to grips with Linux and finding it very dougnting - There's an awful lot of reading to be done as well as trying to sus out PHP... My brain is going to explode soon, I know it... :\
02-05-2004, 12:49 AM
Paul hit the nail on the head here:
You certainly won't do your career chances any harm though if you're able to switch between administering Unix and Windows based systems... those individuals are a rare breed indeed!
If you are interested in sys admin, web server admin and programming for platform independence and want the best possible way to market yourself, learn two or more platforms. Linux and Windows are the two most popular right now.
I have found that the experience, along with reading anything/everything you can, will help you in just about any envrionment you might find yourself in. Make sure and use the OSes out for yourself. There is too much bias from most people on which is better, or the supposed advantages/disadvantages of each to go based on reading and asking opinions (the topic loaded with flame...MS vs. Linux).
Myself, I have 3 flavors of Windows running, 2 flavors of linux and Sun Solaris that I split development, web serving and testing between. This not only has prepared me should I need to go find a career or job, but has allowed me to learn the true differences between the OSes. You can buy a cheap PC to throw Linux on and play around with it to learn (or even dual boot linux/windows on one system). For the Sun Solaris, I picked up a Sun workstation on eBay for about $275.
I do have to somewhat disagree with Paul as far as OS choice becoming irrelevant. To truly learn/know the OS use it in the native envrionment it was meant for. For developing applications for the envrionments, you need them in the native form, not emulated. The other face to this is who you work for. Working for yourself, I agree with Paul, it is increasing irrelevant as it is more personal choice. However, if you are going out into the IT industry, what does the majority of your target employers use? That is what you will want to know.
Best advice? Try them out. Linux is great to use and learn, and is a good change of pace from Windows. Be prepared to do much more command line interfacing with the OS. I use Red Hat and Mandrake and like both of them. For Unix, I have used Sun Solaris, and a little bit of HP-UX and Irix. The nice thing is though, once you know Unix/Linux many of the basic OS operations are similar enough it is like changing between Windows 2000 and Windows XP, the eye candy is different, but the base fundamentals are similar.
For Macs....let just say that is my last conquest to learn and get invovled in so I cannot say much for help on it as my experience is zilch.
My one biased comment -- I booted my sun system up and ran stable without a reboot of any sort for about 4 1/2 to 5 months. Windows?? About 4 1/2 to 5 hours....
Hope this helped at least a little, and if you get started on one of the *nix flavors and get stuck, there are lots of great minds on here that can help you out!
02-05-2004, 11:38 AM
The biggest advantage of Unix (read Linux or a flavor of BSD) is the uptime and cost.
Until the most recent version of Windows, Unixes beat Windows hands down on the up time issue. Now you just wish the Windows server would crash so you can reboot.
For the most part an upgrade or security fix did not require a reboot and didn't damage your site or its programs.
Gates and company still haven't gotten it right but it is getting a lot better.
I avoid Micr$oft because they are a target. My interior and exterior networks are Linux server based. My desktops are Windows. My developement PC's are both.
It's not that Linux is perfect, I have installed security patches in equal numbers for both Windows and Linux, its just that ultimately why pay an arm and a leg for an OS when the free (or at least cheaper) OS is equal to that OS.
Thanks for the comments.
I've had a number of conversations with folks in my local community regarding the 'most appropriate' OS. It's really quite phenomenal how folks are willing to share ideas with you. The comments on this forum, friends around town; you know, sometimes you just have to realize how rare and really special sharing can be. It's a lost commodity for most these days. My hat's off to you all.
Like I said, I'm a content guy. I'm a doctor actually just looking to write a utility for my office. If I need the utility so do others. If I can sell a few copies of the utility to recoup my cost, all the better. In fact, that's my goal. So although I may not write the code, I'll need to be familiar with the code and OS to tweek it and support it.
But while I climb the learning curve I've learned a couple of things.
First, who's your end user. What sort of OS are they accustom to using.
Second, are you really limited with 'closed architecture'? Sure, open architecture may allow you the freedom to write script that can function beyond the margin of what an 'out of the box' tool may provide. But is the learning curve worth it?
Bottom line...I'm sticking with Windows for the short term. It's funny, one of the guys I talked to about Linux was really impressed with it. He's also one of my fishing buddies. But the interesting thing is that he only fishes with fly rods that he builds himself....follow my drift?
02-09-2004, 08:30 AM
If the application is wriiten correctly, the OS doesn't matter.
However, if this is a desktop app. then Windows is the logical choice.
I don't build my own rods, but I know how they work.
02-09-2004, 12:23 PM
In the beginning (of user semi-friendly computers) was the PDP-8. And it was good. And it ran an Operating System called TSX (Time Share Executive).
Then came unto all Gary Kildall and he wrote a clone of TSX called CP/M (Control Program for Microcomputers, in the movie TRON called Master Control Program).
It ran inside of 8K by itself, and it was also pretty good.
DEC begat PDP-11's and updated TSX to RSX (Real-Time Share Executive) and it ran business programs well (also very small ~16K)
Seattle Computer Products expanded CP/M into a DOS for 8088 based computers on the S-100 bus and Apple II bus. It was bigger (~30K). Bill Gates saw this and was working with IBM on a DOS and took a shortcut by buying Seattle Computing DOS renaming it PC-DOS and MS-DOS. Later versions of MS-DOS got bigger, fatter, slower.
Microsoft later added a GUI Shell called Windows (there were other GUI shells for DOS out there).
IBM wanted a proprietary Operating system and worked with Microsoft to make OS/2. Microsoft wanted this to be non-proprietary so they made more than 1 version and the higher version needed Microchannel architecture computers to run properly. Microsoft, seeing their profits go down, was pissed.
Later, in a successful attempt at monopolization, Microsoft begat Windows 95 which (1) avoided antu-trust charges by looking like an extension of the shell that incorporated the Operating System (making the Operating system incorporate the shell would have been unfair competition to the other shells); (2) avoided their technology sharing agreement with IBM (same excuse as above). It was a horrible kludge but it was very well marketed and destroyed the competition. Windows 95, 98, etc. each got bigger, fatter, slower; requiring an ever increasing amount of processor power, memory, and larger hard drives; basically requiring new computers every 2 - 3 years. The Computer Manufacturers liked the idea of Planned Obsolescence a lot so they installed ever newer versions of windows on their computers.
we could go into various IBM Mainframe and Mini-computer OS's each incompatible to the other, HP's interesting Operating systems (let alone non-standard screens), DEC's VAX VMS, etc. but why bother?
UNIX et. al. had a different gestation. Unix was developed on PDP-11's in their enfgineering OS RSTS and RSTS-E. It's sole original purpose in life was to switch telephones quick and failsafely. It did. UNIX was developed to run C before C was built (in RSTS-E) then C was "ported" to UNIX and UNIX was recompiled in C (which answers the question which came first the UNIX or the C shell?)
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UNIX (raw command line UNIX) is GURU friendly and user unfriendly. What does PS mean? PS -a? LS? UNIX Guru's would know. So there came various shells (c shell, Bourne shell, korn shell, ad infinitum) which could convert meaningful commands to guru; then came graphical shells (Solaris, et. al.) much like windows.
LINUX was an attempt to clone UNIX like CP/M, and like UNIX there are several shells, (KDE, Gnome, etc.) and several variant releases wich all do the same thing. It is far less of a kludge than windows (ALL versions of Windows!) and therefore more reliable; more importantly a smaller memory requirement.
Microsoft ran a test with one of the magazines with Windows 2000 and IIS against Red Hat Linux and Apache a couple of years ago which demonstrated that Windows was faster. well..... The deal was it required the top of the line processor and 512Mb of ram. when the magazine had to go back and recheck some numbers the machines they originally used were unavailable so they used other machines. with 256Mb of memory.
OOOOOOOOOPS! Microsoft was still faster but was much slower than before. Now being suspicious, the magazine did more tests. Linux ran at still the same speed in 128Mb memory, Windows would not run at all. Linux ran about as fast on slower processors; Windows got real slow real fast. Windows had picked up the notion of memory caching variables, directories, etc. from Novell and practiced it with a vengeance (unfortunately many of these did not need to be cached so it was like traveling with 12 pieces of luggage of which you only needed 4)
Notice we have to this point ignored a much better Operating System Apple MAC OS, especially OS X. That's what you get for being in a PC Bigot group; crappy OS's! Apple built many of the OS pieces (drawing and enlarging windows, etc. (into the Mac ROM's so the system runs much faster.
When FOX software was writing Fox Pro for the MAC they found there was so much more available for programming, and so much speed that they threw away their PC's (unfortunately about a year later they were bought by Microsoft).
This is only a gloss over (yes I have / do use all those OS's mentioned and several more).
The more significant point is what are you going to do with it? If you just want to experience other operating systems get a Mac, get a sparcstation (used) and learn solaris, get a cheap ($199) computer at frys with linux on it. Unfortunately, we do not enforce anti-trust laws in this country so if you want to SELL anything you write you are stuck with Windows. If you really want to look at the future look at Linux - some of the biggest users (governments) are going with Linux for cost reasons as are some of the biggest corporations.
Linux also can be installed on your present computer when you "upgrade" to a new computer that runs a newer version of windows.
I have quit adding newer versions of Windows as Windows media player (7 and up) Windows 2000 (service pack 3 and up) and Windows XP all "phone home" and send a copy of your system registry to microsoft (WMP whenever you play a mp#, CD, DVD, etc.; Win 2000 when you install ANY update including security updates, Windows XP whenever you boot up and there is an internet connection found)
I don't want my users doing something that gets them in trouble (by terms of the EULA you are giving Microsoft the right to do this AND to disable or delete any programs Microsoft feels might be harmful to Windows, e.g. Wordperfect, etc.
As far as dual booting start formatting and installing Linux, make it stable, THEN install a second partition for Windows (or use a MAC with PC clone programs - there are several).
I could go on but you are probably already going Gaaaaaaaa.........
No, actually. Pretty interesting.
It's hard to know where to go without knowing where you came from.